Education duo add a sparkle to our schools


CATHOLIC EDUCATION’S Helen Casey and John Barker were the toast of the town last month after it was announced that their combined 60 years of service to the organization was cause for a diamond anniversary celebration.

Mrs Casey has served in schools and in the office of Catholic Education (formerly known as Catholic Education Office or CEO) since 1977, bringing up 41 years.

Mr Barker started with Catholic Education in 1997, having come over from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and although he holds a black-belt in karate, it was not his prowess as an athlete, but his experience in the field of statistics and finance, which saw him join.

The pair both share “attention to detail” in their respective roles and were recognized recently by Catholic Education.

Director Ross thanked them for their years of dedication.

“Catholic Education in the Archdiocese proudly celebrates the careers of two compelling individuals who have collectively served Catholic Education for 60 years with great honour,” he said.

“Our community has much to thank John and Helen for. We wish them well for the weeks, months and years ahead.”

Mrs Casey’s journey begun as a teacher, but she has spent the last 17 years supporting teachers and principals in each one of the 56 Archdiocese’s schools, imparting her skills and wisdom, co-designing new programs and education facilities.

Her lasting legacy is the thriving preschools that have been part of Catholic Education in Canberra since 2009.

One school principal in the Archdiocese reflected on her compassion for families.

“She really put in the miles to support our furthermost schools. She’s a wonderful colleague who was in touch with the daily life of schools and the needs and demands upon principals.”

A woman of faith and family, Mrs Casey has been an active member of St Matthew’s Parish Page for many years.

It is said that her prayers, liturgies, and masses are a stunning reflection of her admirable knowledge of Scripture, furthermore her familiarity with the liturgical year and her ability to link the secular with the sacred.

She is also known for supporting charities and families in need.

Mr Barker, who has been the finance and planning, public strategy, and special projects lead for 19 years was praised by his colleagues for his quiet demeanor, as well as his wicked, witty, and dry sense of humour, his passion for music and extensive knowledge of music bands.

His work behind the scenes as a steward of funds and diligence to needs-based distribution enabled the establishment of Trinity College Goulburn, Hennessy College Young, St John Paul II College Nicholls and Lumen Christi Pambula both in its foundation as a secondary school and as a Kindergarten to Year 12 college.

“He has steered us through $90 million worth of building completed on time, on budget, equitably and creatively,” the CE spokesperson said.

“With the Federal Government’s BER initiative John encouraged imaginative and cutting-edge designs, and robustly advocated for any funds surplus to project needs to be allocated to schools with lower allowances so they too could have a high-quality facility.” 

“Over two decades he saw several government funding models come and go one thing never wavered.”