Principals Association of
Victorian Catholic Secondary Schools

Our History

History of the Association


The initial meeting of Principals, which led to the formation of the , was initiated by Mr Frank Rogan, then Supervisor of Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. He saw the need for greater communication and cooperation among Catholic educators and hoped that this first meeting of Principals might lead to the formation of an ongoing group that could facilitate this.

The Director of the Catholic Education Office, Father Frank Martin invited all principals of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Melbourne to a meeting to be held on 10 August 1972, at the Olympia Room, Olympic Park. The themes of the day were "The Catholic Secondary School in Contemporary Society" and "The Lay Teacher in the Catholic Secondary School".

This meeting proved to be so successful that it was decided that a further meeting should be held. This meeting, also organised by Mr Frank Rogan, was held on 9 November 1972. Professor P. Musgrove of Monash University spoke on the topic of "Curriculum Change", in the light of the freedom given to schools to develop their own programmes and curricula up to the end of Form 5. Since the topic was of vital concern for all schools it was decided to invite Deputy Principals as well. There was representation from fifty secondary schools.


At this meeting, a committee was formed to establish the Principals' Association. It consisted of Sr Brigid Arthur, Sr Nora Finucane, Sr Josepha Dunlop, Fr Frank Shortis, Br William Greening, Br Romuald O'Brien, Sr Paschal Rushford and Mr Frank Rogan. This committee had representation from Regional Colleges, boys' colleges, girls' colleges and colleges with students only to Form 4. It met for the first time on 8 December 1972.

The Committee requested that country membership be included, meeting dates for 1973 were fixed and the aims of the prosed Association were formulated. These were:

  1. To foster close links between those concerned with the improvement of education administration in Catholic Schools
  2. To conduct conferences and seminars for Principals and teachers in Catholic Schools
  3. To facilitate the dissemination of information about developments in educational institutions
  4. To provide a forum for the discussion of common problems and new approaches

The composition and name of the Association had to be considered, and these questions were raised

  • Should it be an association in its own right or should it see itself as the forerunner of a larger organisation of teachers in Catholic secondary schools?
  • Should it become a Victorian association or be restricted to the Archdiocese?
  • Should it be a professional association, restricting itself to matters associated with teaching and learning processes, or did it see itself as being a body which would suggest means of rationalising resources, or changes in policy?
  • What was to be its relationship with the Catholic Education Office?

Fr Frank Shortis was elected Chairman and Mr Frank Rogan, Secretary, as a direct link with the Catholic Education Office. An interim constitution was prepared.

On 11 October 1973, the interim constitution was adopted, and members of the 1974 Executive elected. Twelve months later, the General Meeting adopted the constitution stating that the Secretary of the Association should be a Principal, but not without acknowledging the contribution of Mr Frank Rogan over the previous two years. He was asked to stay with the Association as an observer.

The name of the Association was to be the Principals' Association of Victorian Catholic Secondary Schools. Membership was to be open to any person who acted as Principal in a Victorian Catholic school with secondary classes and who had final local responsibility for that institution. During any necessary absence of the Principal, the person who administered the school during this period was to be invited to attend meetings and vote on issues raised.

The Association, through its Executive, was to speak on behalf of the Principals of Victorian Catholic Secondary Schools. The Executive would be responsible for conducting general meetings of the Association and managing the interests of the Association between general meetings.

The development of the Association was aided by the regular correspondence between Mr Frank Rogan and the Catholic Secondary Schools Association of NSW and the ACT, the Secretary of which was Mr John Kennedy (who subsequently became a member and was twice elected President of the ).

At the first General Meeting, the Principals' Association was asked for suggestions as to what form the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria might take. Fr Frank Shortis and Br Romuald O'Brien (later Fr Frank O'Brien) were invited to assist, and Fr Frank Shortis became the Representative on the newly formed Commission in August 1973.


In 1976 the first Conference was held at St Mary's College, Melbourne University, with 70 principals participating. This Conference, led by Sr Carmel Leavy OP, addressed the theme "The Many Worlds of the Catholic School's Principal".

Following the success of the first three-day Conference the Association has annually organised conferences on the following themes:

1977: Values Clarification in the School Community

1978: The Principal as a Pastoral Person

1979: Personal Formation of the Principal

1980: Staff Community Development

1981: The Identity of Catholic Secondary Schools: A Challenge for the eighties

1982: Ministry, A Means of Christ's Peace

1983: Ministry

1984: Nurturing Growth in the Catholic School Community

1985: Axiology and Catholic Education: You - The Leader

1986: Adolescence and Adulthood - A Juxtaposition of Cultures

1987: Prophetic Mission of the Catholic School

1988: Catholic Schools Towards 2000

1989: (National Catholic Education Commission Conference held in Melbourne)

1990: Challenging our Culture: The Task of Catholic Education

1991: To Renew the face of the Earth - the challenge for Catholic educators

1992: To cast Fire on the Earth - Catholic Educators as Leaders

1993: Noticing God -Spirituality in Catholic Education

1994: The Heart of the Matter - The Family and Catholic Education

1995: Educating Now to be Church: Community for Liberation

In the 1980s these conferences were open, first to Deputy Principals and then to teachers, administrators, Board members, priests, parents and students. From them developed the Catholic Education Conference, which is held annually in Melbourne, and which has contributed significantly to Catholic educational thinking in Australia.

In 1987 a Conference, for Principals only, was held at Parkville. The success of this venture has seen similar conferences held in subsequent years, first at Parkville and than at Marysville. The following themes have been addressed:

1987: Ministry of Leadership in Catholic Education

1988: Leadership: Patrick Duignan

1989: Staff Development: Charles Burford

1990: Values in Leadership

1991: Visionary Leadership

1992: Prayer for Leaders: Fr Patrick O'Sullivan S.J.

1993: Spirituality of the Ordinary: Mary-Anne Confoy RSC

1994: Re-imaging the Sources of Our Faith: Fr Frank Andersen MSC

1995: Tomorrow's School, Leading Tomorrow's Church: Kevin Treston

1996: Leadership and Values: Paul Begley

1997: Authentic Leadership: Professor Patrick Duignan

1998: Challenges to Faith/Challenges to Leaders in Faith Development: Fr Michael Morwood MSC

1999: The Conversations of Our Lives - Avenues to Conversion: Fr David Ranson

2001: The Dynamics of Adult Christian Formation: Fr Wayne Cavalier OP

2002: Leadership: An Alternative Vision - Jill McCorquodale SGS

2003: Surviving and Thriving as a Principal - Dr John Tickell, Fr Michael Court SDB

2004: The Courage to Lead - Fr Michael Court SDB

2005: A Journey in Faith as a Principal - Fr. Peter Matheson

2006: Centered in Faith, Centred in Self - Dr Richard Wade, Dr Brenda Beatty

2007: "The Catholic School Integrating Faith, Life and Culture. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" Dr Rose Marie Prosser, Dr Philip Hughes and Professor Graham Rossiter

2008: "Building a Faith Community for the Future: Nurturing and Valuing the Storytellers".  Dr James Conroy and Sr Janette Gray RSM.

2009: " Religion and Spirituality Journey into Life: Fr Michael Whelan SM;
2010: "Between Peter's Rock and a Hard Place : Catholic Principals in Full Flight" : Ms Geraldine Doogue.

2011: Catholic Principals in Full Flight : the Principal as Faith Leader" Dr James Nickoloff

2012: "The Principal as Faith Leader , a Journey of Spiritual Transformation", Professor Janet K Ruffing RSM

2013: " The Place on which you stand is Holy Ground". Professor Amy-Jill Levine.

2014: "Vatican II an unfinished building site" Dr Richard Gaillardetz

There was no conference held in 2000 as the first National Conference of Catholic Secondary Principals was held in Melbourne and hosted by the PAVCSS

2015: The Christology of Pope Francis :  from the margins to the centre

2015: "Formed by and for Mercy : Following Christ in a Suffering World"; Dr Mathew Ashley, Head of Department of Theology Notre Dame University Indiana USA

2016: No PAVCSS conference. The Association hosted and organised the CaSPA conference in Melbourne in July 2016. The theme was "Live in the Light, Open your Heart, Sing a New Song". Conference presenters were:

  • Most Rev Mark Edwards OMI, Auxiliary Bishop within the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
  • Dr Amy-Jill Levine, University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E Rhodes and Leona B Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vandebilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences, Nashville Tennessee USA
  • Sr Sheila Flynn OP, Director Kopanang Community Trust, Tsakane South Africa
  • Dr Ronald Rolheiser OMI, President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio Texas USA.
  • Rev Professor Francis Moloney sdb AM, Director of the Centre for Biblical and Early Christian Literature in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at Australian Catholic University.
  • Rev Peter Steane msc, Head School of Business and Professor of Strategic Leadership Australian Catholic University
  • Ms Julie Morgan, Senior Consultamt and Lecturer Organisational Development, Executive Education, ACU.

2017: "Sharing the Adventure of Faith : A Journey in Imagination". Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, Blackfriars College Oxford.

2018: "Education From and For Faith", Dr Thomas H Groome, Professor of Theology and Religious Education at Boston College Massachusetts.

2019: "Catholic Social Teaching for Our Age", Dr Anna Rowlands, St Hilda Associate Professor of Catholic Social  Thought and Practice, Lecturer in Contemporary Catholic Theology and Deputy Director Centre for Catholic Studies Durham University UK.

2020: No conference (COVID 19).

2021: Conference online: “The Meaning of Faith in an Age of Science”; Dr John Haught, Distinguished Research Professor at Georgetown University Washington USA

(Images from Journal of Catholic Education Conference, Vol 9, No. 3, August 1992 - 'To Cast Fire Upon the Earth': Catholic Educators as Leaders)