New education leader for Sandhurst diocese

LEADERS: Paul Desmond, Bishop Leslie Tomlinson and Reverend Dr Brian Boyle. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

LEADERS: Paul Desmond, Bishop Leslie Tomlinson and Reverend Dr Brian Boyle. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The Sandhurst diocese of the Catholic Church has appointed a new director to oversee Catholic education in the region.

The role, currently held by Phil Billington, manages the education of 18,000 students in 45 schools.

Paul Desmond will take over from Ms Billington in January next year.

Mr Desmond, 56, said he was “genuinely excited” about moving to the area for the role.

“It’s a new challenge for me, but one that I’m really looking forward to,” Mr Desmond said.

He is currently principal of St Francis Xavier Catholic College in the diocese of Sale where he oversees 2400 students and 300 staff across three campuses.

His new role will involve working out of the Catholic Education office in Bendigo – a significant change from the role of principal.

“I’ve been very happy running a very large Catholic secondary school but I was ready for a change,” Mr Desmond said.

“I hope to continue the good work already being done but I hope to bring my own perspective,” he said.

Mr Desmond said he hoped to bring a “very authentic love of the kids and their learning and the best that Catholic Education has to offer.”

 “I’m a Dad myself and the things I wanted for my own children in Catholic education are the things I want for other children,” he said.

Mr Desmond was born and raised in Yea and is looking forward to being in a regional area once again.

I’m a Dad myself and the things I wanted for my own children in Catholic education are the things I want for other children. - Paul Desmond

“I’m a country boy by birth,” he said.

He has cousins who have moved from Yea to Bendigo so he and his wife are looking forward to a kind of family reunion.

Mr Desmond said his wife was a “city girl” but was excited about the move.

She was in Bendigo this week searching for their new home.

Episcopal vicar for education in the Sandhurst diocese Reverend Doctor Brian Boyle said he was looking forward to working with Mr Desmond for the promotion of Catholic education.

He said Mr Desmond would bring “sheer ability” to the role.

“He has a very strong professional background in Catholic education,” Reverend Dr Boyle said.

He said a key skill of the director role was the “capacity to work professionally with a very complex and demanding set of relations".

“What you’d be looking for is a very strong Catholic faith context for the way that staff interact with each other, pupils and parents,” Rev Dr Boyle said.

“We’re hoping he will be able to continue the relations we’ve set up with parish priest, offices and principals.”

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