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Retiring chancellor leaves unique imprint

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After nearly 10 years as a chancellor of the Adelaide Archdiocese and 22 years working in Catholic education in SA, Heather Carey says she is moving into retirement with a “light heart” and full of “deep gratitude”.

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“I am grateful for the ways in which my life has been touched and enriched by the people I have encountered,” Mrs Carey told the large gathering in the Cathedral Hall on December 19.

“Our managers and teams, pastoral associates and parish priests, our chaplains who do such amazing work in hospitals and prisons, our multicultural communities, our youth and young adults, parishes and all the boards and commissions who work so hard to support the people of this Diocese, I thank and salute you all.”

Mrs Carey also thanked her “long-suffering family”, particularly her husband Tony for his “immeasurable support” which included doing all the cooking for the past 30 years. “How lucky have I been,” she laughed.

Referring to previous chancellors – Jane Swift, Cathy Whewell and Pauline Connelly – with whom she worked, Mrs Carey thanked them for their inspiration, their leadership, their support and ongoing friendship.

“It is not always easy to be a woman in a leadership role in this Church, but the women with whom I have worked, especially chancellors and managers and Religious, give me great hope for the women in our Church,” she said.

Prior to her appointment as chancellor, Mrs Carey was one of the first co-principals of Nazareth Catholic Community whereby four schools were amalgamated to build a community connected to the parish and wrap-around services. Prior to that she was co-principal of Mary MacKillop College where she began working in 1987 after 11 years in State education.

Archbishop Wilson sent a letter thanking Mrs Carey for her “kindness to me and the able assistance she has provided to me as Archbishop”.

“I am sure, like me, everyone recognises the great contribution she has made to the Archdiocese of Adelaide in her long service as teacher, principal and chancellor,” he wrote.

“The imprint of her contribution will shine for a long time.”

Administrator Delegate Fr Philip Marshall read out a long list of Mrs Carey’s responsibilities as chancellor, including serving on the boards or committees of Hutt St Centre, Aquinas College, SA Commission for Catholic Schools and Catholic Charities, Self-Insured Governing Council, as well as her involvement in a range of Diocesan programs and initiatives.

He said the Archdiocese had been blessed for a long time with the presence of strong women in leadership and this made a “huge difference” to the “sometimes narrow” perspective of celibate men.

“Part of the richness of this really magnificent diocese has been the tradition of women and you (Mrs Carey) have been outstanding and extraordinary,” he said.

“We are left with beautiful memories, deep gratitude and a legacy woven into this local Church that will never go away.”

Ms Whewell spoke of Mrs Carey’s calmness and sense of humour in a crisis with her common catchcry “that’s hilarious” of great benefit to those around her.

Ms Connelly said Mrs Carey had taught her the importance of “treasuring the feminine and all that its grace brings to the Church and the need for it at the highest levels of governance in the Church”.

“Heather’s ability to nurture and minister to those with whom she works carries with it a joy and an authority that is both unique and effective and this was something special to observe,” she said.

“Heather is a co-contributor in the life of Christ within the Church and in a climate when many still grapple with the concept of female leadership in the Church, Heather just got on with the job!”

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