FORMER Federal President of the Australian Liberal Party, Ashley Goldsworthy AO OBE KM and his wife Shirley are passionate supporters of Catholic education.
“Knowledge and faith don’t grow in ignorance. If children are not taught in the faith they cannot understand the faith,” says Professor Goldsworthy.
The couple are strong supporters of the Mary MacKillop Brisbane Catholic School Access Fund, having created a named endowment fund to support this cause. The MacKillop Fund provides bursaries to children whose families are faced with significant challenges; some are refugees families and some struggle with major disability, trauma or family breakdown. The bursaries provide tuition and fees for a Catholic education. The MacKillop Fund is not about subsidising families currently enrolled in Catholic schools, rather, it is about helping families in crisis for whom the dream of a Catholic education for their children is far beyond their reach. The Goldsworthy’s generosity combined with other gifts from Annual Catholic Campaign donors will ensure that the neediest of local families can consider a Catholic education.
A Catholic school education has life changing effects on the lives of children, especially those experiencing financial distress or trauma at home. Professor Goldsworthy concedes that unfortunately there will always be too great a demand for bursaries from families who cannot afford to send their children to a Catholic school, however they hope that their support will inspire many more people to take action to ensure new generations of children can continue to nurture their blossoming faith through education.
The grandfather of one recipient from an indigenous family speaks about the impact a Catholic education had on his eldest granddaughter’s young life, “the Catholic system has been good for her; it provides a home where she feels she belongs – where we can all belong. Since 2011, when they started Catholic primary school, she and her sisters have come from being shy kids from the bush to confident young girls now.” Sole caregiver to three granddaughters, this man has supported the girls for the past five years, since their move from the bush, and although employed, he has significant financial struggles. This faithful man did all he could to send the girls to a Catholic primary school because a Catholic education was deeply important to him. This year, as his eldest granddaughter prepared to start secondary school, he desperately wanted her to continue but did not know how he could afford it – the MacKillop Fund bursary was a Godsend, which secures his oldest granddaughter’s education through to her Year 12 graduation.
Although the MacKillop Fund is still in its infancy it already supports 17 bursaries for students. In the coming months the 2017 cohort will be chosen, and with the ongoing support from the wider Archdiocese through the Annual Catholic Campaign it is hoped that there will be more bursaries available in the coming year. The substantial growth of this Fund in only three years is due to the generosity of donors, school principals and local parish priests who have championed this cause.
The Annual Catholic Campaign will take place on 10-11 September in parishes across the Archdiocese. Donations to the campaign will train seminarians, care for retired priests, provide bursaries to impoverished children, and give Catholic pastoral care to the imprisoned, the hospitalised, and those with psychiatric illness.