St Joseph’s welcomes first female leader since 1994

The year 2018 marks a significant year for the community at St Joseph’s College, Lochinvar as they welcome the first female leader since 1994, Principal Patricia Hales.

As a former St Joseph’s student herself taught by the Josephite nuns, Mrs Hales has returned to create a community of learning where students, staff and families are valued and respected for their uniqueness, and students are encouraged to embrace new challenges and reach their full potential.

“I feel very privileged and humble to return to St Joseph’s as a female leader, I feel as though I am standing on the shoulders of giants – the women who taught me were overwhelmingly strong, intelligent and determined – they inspired within a desire to be the best I could be, to work hard and be considerate of others, to dream a little about possibilities,” said Mrs Hales.

Prior to the open liturgy at St Joseph’s, Mrs Hales said she felt an overwhelming sense that the spirits of the sisters who taught her were there by her side.
“I truly felt a spiritual call to the College, that God was calling me to a special mission – that it was the right time for me from a career and life perspective – I felt I had the experience and wisdom to lead the College at an important time in their journey.

“I feel that the Josephite tradition is simply part and parcel of who I am as a person - the sisters’ resolve to provide an education for young women, their compassion for the less fortunate, their desire to share in and walk together in the ordinariness of life were just so evident and lived that it just seemed to be the way we should live our own lives.”

Mrs Hales has worked for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle for over 30 years. She has taught at St Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton, St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton and ASC, St Peter’s and St Mary’s Campus, Maitland, as well as enjoyed eight years at the Catholic Schools Office in a variety of roles.

Mrs Hales said that she is looking forward to being part of the energy of a Year 7 to 11 school, as there is such diversity across the year groups as well as having the opportunity to share her experience and expertise with her staff.

“I truly hope that all students will grow and flourish in an environment where they are respected as young adults. I hope that they will reap the benefits of being in a place that is imbued with the Josephite tradition and that this will inspire them to be strong, open minded, compassionate and well informed.

“In collaboration with the staff and Year 11 students, I hope to establish some spaces in the College that will give the senior students the opportunity to develop their independence and form a cohesive bond that will pay dividends for their learning and future pathways.”

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Gabrielle Sutherland Image
Gabrielle Sutherland

Gabrielle Sutherland is a Marketing & Communications Officer for the Catholic Schools Office and a regular contributor to and Aurora.