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Compassion Sister Steps Down from Caritas Board

Compassion Sister Steps Down from Caritas Board

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

Sr Hannan 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 in 2006 and the Caritas Internationalis 4-yearly Assembly earlier this year, she has met some “truely amazing people ... colourful but competent people.”

One of the strengths of the international Caritas network is that it’s a federation. “They each share 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.” We can be alongside other smaller agencies – “small and non-threatening”.

Caritas has a lot of respect from other agencies, said Sr Hannan, 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 Hannan’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 the Board level. Her own compassion for people and her experience of working with the poor and vulnerable has been a wonderful asset for Caritas.”

Sr Hannan’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. And she expects to be actively involved in her parish social justice group as well as continuing at the Compassion Centre Soup Kitchen.


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