Long-serving Caritas board member resigns

Sr Catherine joined the Board when it changed from being an advisory body to one of governance, with ability to appoint the director and approve budgets.

Sister of Compassion Catherine Hannan has stepped down from the Board of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand after nine years, the last seven as chair.

Long-serving Caritas board member resigns Archdiocese of Wellington Sr Catherine joined the Board when it changed from being an advisory body to one of governance, with ability to appoint the director and approve budgets.

Through Caritas, she also served for seven years on the executive committee of the Asian Partnership for Human Development, a key body for Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand’s involvement in Asia. This brought her into contact with stories of human trafficking: of women into prostitution, of small children from Bangladesh to India for body parts, of young boys from Sri Lanka to the Middle East to be camel drivers. It propelled her to find out about the trafficking of women into prostitution in New Zealand, and she was eventually appointed to the government committee reviewing the impact of the Prostitution Reform Act.

In her time, she has seen Caritas’ Justice and Peace Committee become more active, and justice advocacy and education a much more important part of Caritas’ work.

She has been impressed with the quality of Caritas staff over the years, both here and overseas. The organisation tends to draw ‘young, dedicated, enthusiastic’ people.

At the Caritas Oceania forum last year and the Caritas Internationalis four-yearly assembly earlier this year, she has met some ‘truly amazing people, colourful but competent’.

One of the strengths of the Caritas network is that it’s a federation. ‘They each have the same vision, but live out that vision with different missions.’

‘To know that we’re one of the small countries is not a bad thing.’ Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand can be alongside other smaller agencies – ‘small and non-threatening’.

Caritas has a lot of respect from other agencies, said Sr Catherine, and she takes pride in the fact that staff members have chaired the Caritas Internationalis Emergency Committee and the joint NZAID/NGO committee overseeing government grants for overseas aid organisations.

Commenting on Sr Catherine’s departure, Caritas Director Mike Smith, said ‘Sr Catherine has been a tremendous contributor to the work of Caritas as a promoter of our work and at board level. Her own compassion for people and her experience of working with the poor and vulnerable has been a wonderful asset.’

Sr Catherine’s last board meeting was at the end of November. She will remain part of the Caritas network, particularly through the Caritas Companions newsletter which encourages prayer support for Caritas’ work as well as continuing at the Compassion Centre Soup Kitchen. And she expects to be actively involved in her parish social justice group.

For more information, contact Martin de Jong 04 496 1742 or 021 909 688.

All Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand media releases available at www.caritas.org.nz