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Long-serving Centacare leader retires


Centacare Catholic Family Services deputy executive director Pauline Connelly will retire next month after 30 years at the organisation.

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Pauline’s last day will be August 4, one month after celebrating three decades of leadership in the Archdiocese of Adelaide and the Diocese of Port Pirie.

Driven to help others, Pauline began her social work career in marriage and family counselling.

In the mid-1990s, with Bishop Eugene Hurley, Pauline established Centacare in Port Pirie. This led to her leadership role in Adelaide, alongside Centacare’s longest-serving director, Dale West.

Following Dale’s retirement in early 2021, Pauline guided the organisation through a period of significant change before choosing to return to her substantive position of deputy executive director late last year.

In partnership with executive director Leanne Haddad, Pauline has continued to lead and shape service growth, in line with community need and informed by the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

Her Christian values and deep commitment to helping those who suffer have defined her influence over time, at state and national level.

“As difficult as this decision has been, I feel very peaceful that after almost 30 years with Centacare in both the Port Pirie and Adelaide dioceses, I know it is the right time for me,’’ Pauline wrote in a letter to staff this week.

“I’ve learned in life that the right decision is not always the easy one, and given Centacare runs in my veins, it is going to be very hard to say goodbye.

“I love the work we do because it is wrapped around a calling we have – a call to respond when we see a need, knowing we can make a difference to another human being, even if we can’t immediately change their situation.

“As I said at our 80 Years celebration in October last year, if we can’t solve a situation, if we can’t take away the pain, we don’t walk away – we stay with people in their pain. That takes courage and resilience and I thank you for that.’’

Pauline, a chancellor of the Archdiocese of Adelaide, will remain on the Centacare Advisory Council which met for the first time in March this year.

“I am continually inspired and grateful for the work that is done by each one of you, and whether that it is in the smallest of moments, or the loud and large ones, what you do changes lives,’’ she wrote.

Pauline will spend the coming weeks by visiting Centacare sites in regional and metropolitan South Australia.

“A huge thank you to you all. I have deeply valued every experience I have had, the most important being the relationships I have enjoyed with so many of you,’’ Pauline said.

Leanne applauded Pauline’s years of dedicated service and highlighted the profound impact she has had on clients and staff.

She said Pauline’s innate ability to inspire courage and belief in others was reflected in the organisation’s ‘’collective group of leaders dedicated to the common cause of servant leadership’’.

Archbishop Patrick O’Regan said over the past two years Pauline had led with “grace, selflessness and distinction”.

He said Pauline would remain on the Archdiocesan Clergy Life and Ministry Team as well as the advisory board.

“I take this opportunity to sincerely thank Pauline for her dedication to the work of Centacare,” he said.

“Her wise and robust counsel, and her unwavering support of all, will be greatly missed.”

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