In that time Liz has worked for three Bishops – Bishop Leo Clarke, Bishop Michael Malone and Bishop Bill Wright.
Liz left her career in travel to take on the role of Secretary to Bishop Clarke in 1993. The diocesan offices were run in those days by fewer than 20 staff and floppy disks and Word Perfect were the tools of choice.
When asked how her role has changed over the years Liz said that her workload had increased both in “volume and diversity”, mainly as a result of the Bishops’ increasing involvement with the church on a state and national level.
Liz worked with Bishop Clarke for two years before his retirement and the arrival of Bishop Michael Malone. Bishop Michael retired in 2011 and Bishop Bill Wright was ordained in June of that year. She said that the transition to working for a new Bishop always brought anxiety, but ultimately she has been blessed. “There is always a period where you have to come to grips with working for a new person who has different ways and methods of doing things,” she said. After 17 years with Bishop Michael she found the period before the announcement of the new Bishop in 2011 a particularly anxious time. “There was great anxiety about who we would get, but I just put my trust in the Holy Spirit and knew he would send us the right person for the time, for the diocese, someone who would lead us through the times we are going through and I think we have that person,” Liz said.
Liz said the best thing about her role has always been the feeling that she is helping others. “I come to work every day knowing that I am helping someone. I can be of benefit to the parishes and the clergy - I just love the relationship I have with the clergy. The building of trust you have with these people is really important,” she said.
Her faith and colleagues, many of whom have also worked for the diocese for many years, are also factors in Liz’s personal happiness in her role. “You are doing it for the love of God and I feel that everyone who works here shares a common purpose. People choose to stay here because the atmosphere and staff are great – why would you want to work anywhere else?” she said.
Liz admits that her role is not without its challenges. “Being a Catholic in this diocese in 2013 and especially working for the diocese is certainly challenging sometimes, but when challenges arise you have to work through them. I believe prayer really helps,” Liz said. Indeed, Liz is often heard encouraging others with the oft-repeated phrase, “Keep the faith”.
Her role is always interesting and there have been many highlights throughout the years. A particularly memorable moment came in 2011 at Bishop Michael’s farewell at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Liz was in Jerusalem leading a pilgrimage at the time, but not wanting to miss such an important occasion, organised to Skype Bishop Michael during the farewell. To Bishop Michael’s great surprise Liz and the pilgrimage group suddenly appeared on the screens in the Cathedral to wish him well, including singing him a rousing version of the Jewish folk song, Hava Nagila!
We wish Liz all the best in her 20th anniversary year. May there be many more hectic, interesting and memorable years ahead!