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Parish Pastoral Council 

The Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) exists to further the kingdom of God by reflecting and acting on the needs of our faith community. The PPC endeavours to discern the pastoral needs of the parish and sets direction for pastoral activities. This is not done in isolation, but by consulting widely within the parish and looking to the broader diocesan direction and pastoral priorities. It is representative of the parish, and not individual parishioners pursuing their own agendas. It is an essential forum for our Pastor.

The purpose of the PPC is to facilitate the involvement of all parishioners as active disciples in the work of the Church by:

  • discerning the needs of the parish
  • preparing strategies and plans to meet the community's pastoral needs
  • facilitating and monitoring the implementation of any strategies and plans
  • providing a focus for effective communication and co-operation between the parish community, neighbouring parishes, diocesan agencies and other relevant churches and community groups

Our Parish Pastoral Council is made up of:

  • Parish Priest, Father Joe Taylor
  • Chair, Kathy Hunt
  • Associate Priest:
  • Pastoral Associate, Anthony Kilmartin,
  • John Cortese -Principal Notre Dame College,
  • Paula Stevenson – Principal St Brendan's Primary School
  • David Keenan Principal - St Luke's Primary School
  • Chris Dainton
  • Leah Ferguson
  • Irene Garla
  • Karen Goodger
  • Anna McNally
  • Sr. Agnes Murphy RSM
  • Bozena Szczurek
  • Christopher Wijesingha

Fr Joe Taylor is one of 5 siblings, originally from Lockington/Echuca. He studied in Melbourne and was ordained in 1974. He currently serves as Parish Priest of both Shepparton and Dookie. He is the Vicar General of the Diocese. He loves to read and watch movies. He also enjoys a good daily walk with Mausgras the dog.

Fr Joseph Taylor
Parish Priest

My name is Kathy Hunt, I live in a small town just out of Shepparton with my husband, Andrew and my son Liam. I work for Scope Australia (which many of you will know as the old Spastic Society) supporting staff in kindergartens to include children from many different cultures, with additional needs, disabilities and general programming advice. I have lived in Shepparton on and off since I was three and have been a part of the St. Brendan’s parish community since September 2009, when I began my RCIA journey. I decided to become a Catholic after experiencing the wonderful support and lived faith of the St. Luke’s school community. I love being on PPC. Working with Fr. Joe and he rest of the PPC team has helped me to feel so very much a part of this beautiful parish and has given me opportunities to get to know our parishioners as we work together to discern and support the faith needs of our community. 

Kathy Hunt

My name is Karen Goodger.
I have been a member of St. Brendan’s Parish since 2007, and since 2010 as a Catholic after going through the RCIA program as a candidate. I am married to Charlie and have one child, Emily who is twelve. I have worked in the Community Services sector for over 15 years, and currently manage the Disability Support Services program at FamilyCare.
I am very passionate about helping people, especially young people with a disability and their families. My interests are reading, music, health & fitness, and holidaying with my family.   

Karen Goodger
Member – Deputy Chair

My name is Irene Garla (Presniakovas). I was born in Kaunas, Lithuania. At the age of three, near the end of WW2, we moved to Germany to escape the rule of Russia. We lived in Germany from 1944-1949. At this stage I spoke both German and Lithuanian. We left Germany as refugees, sailing from Genoa on the ship General Langfitt. We arrived in Melbourne and from there were shipped to Bonagilla by train, eventually the family settled in Mornington.

In 1959 I started my nurse training at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne. In 1963 I married my husband Joe and we settled in Shepparton. Joe passed away in 2010. We have four wonderful children and I am the proud grandmother of five lovely grandchildren.

I worked at Mooroopna Base Hospital and was the inaugural Social Worker in Shepparton. I worked at Shepparton Private Hospital in various positions from 1981 to 1996.

I retired in 1996 and became involved with Probus Club of Shepparton South, CWA, art work and draft works and various church groups at St Brendan’s. Hopefully I can make some contributions while serving on the Parish Pastoral Council.

Irene Garla
Member - Secretary

My name is John Cortese. I am Principal of Notre Dame College, having taken up the role at the start of 2013. I grew up in Merrigum on a dairy farm. My schooling was completing Prep at Merrigum PS, Grades 1-10 (incl.) at St Augustine’s in Kyabram and HSC at St Colman’s in Shepparton (which, after a merger with Sacred Heart College, is now Notre Dame College. I completed B.Sc (Ed) at Melbourne University, followed by a variety of post grad studies at Melbourne University and online courses at Harvard University. My lovely wife Sue is a Kyabram girl. My children are Stephanie (25 yo Physio in Bendigo) and Nathan (22 yo studying at Melb Uni). I have 2 older sisters (one who lives in Mooroopna) and a twin brother (who lives in Shepparton). I have taught in metropolitan and rural schools in DEECD all my life in 4 different Regions. I was a long term teacher at Mooroopna SC (12 years) and for 12 years was Principal of Red Cliffs SC. For the past 4.5 years, I worked in the Regional Office at Ballarat (last 2.5 years as Assistant Regional Director). Sport is one of my great loves. During my football career, I played at Merrigum, Uni Blues, Melbourne FC (2nds), and Tongala and Shepparton in the Goulburn Valley Football League. I was fortunate to achieve Premierships and B&Fs through my careers and often reflect on the people I met through football. I play social tennis and cricket. The mighty dees (Melbourne FC) are my team of choice. I have a passionate belief that schools have a responsibility to develop young men and women who fit into our society and who also strive to be leaders in our world. Our schools must ensure that these students have the desire and passion as well as the ability, knowledge and skills to “right” the many ills and wrongs that exist in our world. Our schools have the responsibility to educate our students (make them literate and numerate). Our schools must develop a caring person who strives for personal success and betterment but also strives for success and betterment for all mankind. To achieve this second part, our schools must develop leadership skills in our students. I am a huge believer in using QUOTES. One of the most powerful ones that I use refers to students view of teachers, namely: “They will not care how much you know until they know how much you care” by Aristotle. 

John Cortese
Ex-officio Member - Principal

My name is Paula Stevenson, I am Principal at St Brendan’s Catholic Primary School. I have been involved in the school and Parish since 1977 when I first began as a Prep teacher at St. Brendan's. I am married to Phil and have four children, Alana , Kate(DEC) Clare and Xavier. Our children all attended St. Brendan's and Notre Dame. I am very passionate about Catholic Education and allowing children to develop spiritually, academically , socially and emotionally. It is great to be involved in the Parish Pastoral Council as our school has a strong connection to our Parish and we want to be involved in different events with the Parish. 

Paula Stevenson 
Ex-officio Member - Principal

I am the Principal of St. Luke's Catholic Primary School. I started my teaching in 1996 in Young, NSW. I spent 11 years in Young. In 2007 I moved to St. Anne's Temora as Deputy Principal. My last 4 years at St. Anne's was as the Principal, before coming to Shepparton. I am originally from Griffith, NSW and I am the youngest of 4 children. My family all live in Griffith. I went to Aquinas, ACU Ballarat, so I had some experience in Victoria many years ago. I am married to Nicole and we have two children, Clancy and Matilda. Clancy attends St. Luke's and Matilda is at Notre Dame College. I love teaching and seeing young people grow. Life is full of challenges and I get to help people through these. My parents and my own educators supported my faith journey. From the Josephite sisters, to the Marist brothers, I have been blessed with great support. Education does start at home, and I thank my Mum and Dad. This parish is sensational and I love being a part of it. 

David Keenan
Ex-officio Member - Principal

Born Ballarat 1966 One of Seven children
Married to Rosey with six children
Dairy farmer until 2010
Studied in Christian Theology Foundation
Working in pastoral care at St Brendans and Mercy aged care.
Interest’s Family, sport footy, golf, training and trialling Kelpie’s to work stock.

Anthony Kilmartin
Ex-officio Member, Pastoral Associate

 I have been a Parishioner at St Brendan's Parish for more than seven(7) years having returned from Sydney in 2011 to support my then elderly mother. Since 2012 I have been acting in a role supporting "Ministers of Communion" prior to 8am Sunday Mass. I became a member of the PPC in early 2014. Shortly afterwards I joined the Bereavement Team. And the Bereavement Visitation Team (a small group who support family members of the recently bereaved). I am involved in hospital, nursing home, private home visitations (supporting the elderly who are no longer able to attend Mass) - this is a very rewarding involvement. I am employed as a Carer supporting people in their own homes - hopefully making a difference in their daily lifestyles. I am a volunteer with Shepparton Visitor's Centre and the Shepparton Court as a Court Networker. I am a social person who enjoys outings: concerts, art exhibitions, markets, driving - short or long trips (travelling). I love the outdoors - walking, sports of all kinds and gardening. I love indoors too - cooking, reading the daily Age newspaper and hard covered books. I use social media as a necessity not a fan of Twitter or the like … Anna McNally

Anna McNally

My name is Bozena Szcsurek.I was born in south Poland in Bielsko-Biala, not far from the place where Pope John Paul II was born. It was a place where dozens of factories were turning Australian wool into exquisite fabrics. As a young person I witnessed a great transformation of the Catholic Church after a very long lasting repression from the communist regime. In 1978 the selection of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla as a pope brought great happiness and hope for a change to the whole nation. A few years later in a response to the people demanding freedom, just before Christmas in 1981 a martial law was introduced. For a young person like me it was time I will never forget because of the oppression that occurred. In 1984 I married my husband Jacek. We migrated to Shepparton, Australia in 1985. This was a great experience but also a challenge. Life here was full of happiness and freedom in every aspect. I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome and hospitality of every Australian I meet. Straight away I felt like I was a part of big family and felt like I had lived here a long time. My greatest challenge was that I didn't know much English. To this day I remember how difficult was to not be able to communicate and express myself. In 1987 we started our family. Now, we have 3 wonderful daughters that we are very proud of. They all went to St Brendan's and Notre Dame College and now they are all grown up. Raising children was my most enjoyable period of time. During time my daughters were at Notre Dame I was involved in Parents and Friends Association for many years. It is a great privilege to be a member of the Parish Pastoral Council and be able to contribute to the community.

Bozena Szczurek

My name is, Dr Christopher Wijesingha and I have been a PPC member for the past 2 years. I work at Goulburn Valley Health and Shepparton Private Hospital.
Initially from Sri Lanka, I moved to Shepparton in 2011 after working for 4 years at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.
I am very interested in Apologetics and defending the Christian faith.  

Christopher Wijesingha

Chris Dainton

 My name is Leah Ferguson, I am married to Ivan and we have two children Ailish and Sam, family means everything to me.

I lead a fairly busy life with fulltime work at Allflo Pumps & Equipment as administration and finance manager, commitments with the Congupna Football Club, the wonderful St Brendan’s Parish and family commitments, including my wonderful aged parents.

I pride myself as being a “happy” person, although I am well known for being a “stress head” as I like things to be perfect. My bright coloured lippy is my signature and I am happy to give a smile to anyone.

Leah Ferguson


Sr. Agnes Murphy RSM

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