Ann Rennie – Catholic Educator And Author


Ann Rennie is a passionate Catholic teacher who has dedicated much of her life to helping young people learn, grow and encounter Jesus. In this special discussion we explore her own experience of Catholic education and the holy women who inspired her and also her new book Blessed

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Jonathan Doyle

Jonathan Doyle

Jonathan Doyle is an international speaker, author, businessman and executive coach who has spoken around the world to more than 400,000 people on topics related to personal development, peak performance, leadership, Catholic school evangelisation, relationships and much more.

His recent keynote addresses include the NCEA National Convention in St. Louis Missouri to 10,000 delegates and he is a frequent keynote speaker in the US, Asia and Europe.

He is also the founder of an influential education and media business that delivers training content to hundreds of organisations and thousands of individuals around the world on a weekly basis.

Jonathan holds an undergraduate degree in education from the University of Canberra, a Masters Degree in Leadership and Management from the University of Newcastle and has also undertaken post-graduate study in philosophical anthropology.

He is the author of numerous books on relationships and peak performance and each day shares these same ideas with a large global audience via The Daily Podcast with Jonathan Doyle.

New Book Out Now

Make sure you grab a copy of my new book Finishing Strong. Just click the book image on the left and it will take you straight there.

Finishing Strong is a loud and clear call for every young person to make the very best of their final years of school. Based on hundreds of seminars around the world to a huge number of students Jonathan Doyle offers powerful, practical advice that can make a major difference.

Each chapter offers inspiring stories, clear principles and actionable steps for identifying and moving forward in study, life, friendships and each key area of life.

Jonathan also includes journal questions and guided reflections at the end of each chapter to maximise learning and ensure the ideas and principles can be made real, personal and achievable.

If you want to help your child or students make the very best of their final years of high school then it;s time to help them finish strong!

10,000 Teachers Have This Book Already!

How can we help teachers avoid burnout, cynicism and exhaustion?

How can the Catholic teacher live their vocation more fully, share the faith with young people and a make a difference in the world?

Over the last two decades, Jonathan Doyle has reached hundreds of thousands of Catholic teachers and leaders around the world with a message of hope and encouragement.

In Tools and Fuels, Jonathan offers a compelling vision of what Catholic schools can be in the 21st century and practical and inspiring strategies about the way each Catholic teacher can play their part in living their vocation, reaching young people and saving the world.

Find out more HERE

tools and fuels book


Ann Rennie

Jonathan: [00:00:00] Well, Hey everybody. Jonathan Doyle with you as always for the Catholic teacher daily podcast. Thanks for tuning in really great to have you with us. I got a bit of an extra special treat for you today. We’re going to share with you a great interview done earlier this week. With the inimitable and rainy and is a fantastic Catholic teacher who has a new book coming out. 

[00:00:29] And I always jumped at the chance to speak to, uh, great Catholic teachers all around the world. So you’re going to hear an story you’re going to hear about her new book. And I think she captures so much of what’s great in Catholic education. So. That’s about it from me. Let’s do some housekeeping quickly. Please make sure you’ve subscribed to the podcast. That would be a big blessing lever of view. If you’d like to everything else you can find on the 

[00:00:56] All right, let’s do this. Everybody. Welcome a board. Let’s have a discussion with Anne Rainey from Jenna Zano. Santa SEJ college. In melbourne  All right. And Ronnie, welcome aboard to the Catholic teacher podcast. Great to have some time with you. Thanks for making time for us. Thank you very much, Jonathan. I’m pleased to be here. Now I know some of my American listeners won’t understand this incredibly important question. That’s, uh, it’s central to educators in the Australian state of Victoria, which Australian rules, football team do you support?

[00:01:30] I go for the tigers. They’ve had a couple of good years. Haven’t they? They certainly have, um, we’ve, we’ve got a fantastic player called Dustin Martin, a couple of other really good players. We’ve got a really good coach. What Richmond has though. They’ve got a, they’re a club who are a community and they absolutely have each other’s back.

[00:01:51] And I think even more than the football, it’s that sense of, um, a collective identity that really is pushes them each game. Yeah. I remember when I lived in Melbourne, I taught for a little while at, uh, at muslin college in Blaine. It was the last place that I taught and I had come from other parts of Australia.

[00:02:11] And I just remember every Friday, like all the staff would be in team colors and, uh, it was a thing. It was like, Just a real eye opener for me, how passionate people are down there. Oh, absolutely. I mean, you know, we talk about religion. Well, religion is football in Melbourne. Yeah, actually it’s interesting.

[00:02:28] You mentioned it’s a community because there’s a, there’s quite a trend actually for, for clubs to, you know, allow our membership to be more and more active. I’ve noticed that just in a few clubs around the world, that the most successful ones are kind of including more of the, uh, you know, the rank and file members and supporters in the, in the whole community.

[00:02:47] Yes. Yes. Well, I think they’re understanding that they don’t want to have echelons, you know, we’re, we’re all in it together a lot. And I think they’re understanding we’ve got to break down these barriers, um, you know, supportive, uh, passionate, uh, vocal. Um, they want their team to win. Um, they want to be included.

[00:03:05] So we should talk about it almost as important as Australian rules football, which is Catholic education. Um, and, uh, what I wanted to do is we’re going to talk a little bit in a minute about your new book that’s coming out, which is really exciting. And we want everybody to hear about that. But, um, what I thought we’d do is just, I love hearing the stories of different Catholic educators, your journey in Catholic education.

[00:03:26] Why are you still there? What keeps you getting up every day and, uh, and, and staying involved in the great adventure of Catholic education. So take us through the story. Well, the story started well over 50 years ago. Uh, when I went to this particular school, Janet Sarno in queue, and I just had wonderful teachers, both, uh, professed and lay.

[00:03:49] And I suppose over the course of my 12 years from prep, um, I learned to love the school and love the sisters and love what they represented. And I suppose they taught about a Jesus who was not wrongful, but loving. So I w I, I got this sense of joy about being a Catholic. Um, it was, it was a good, uh, good faith to be in.

[00:04:11] So I suppose that rubbed off on a, a fairly impressionable little, you know, Holy communicant, but it’s stayed there ever since. And was that part of your home experience too? Was it was the faith, a big part of Oh mother and father. Um, and I’m the oldest of seven siblings. So they were very, very devout Catholics.

[00:04:30] Um, so we would be trotted along to mass and confession, you know, regularly, um, and praying and grace and the saints and visiting monasteries, all those things were very much part of my growing up and, and very noble. For, for the group that I moved in, all my friends were Catholic. Um, it was just what we did.

[00:04:52] We all came from fairly big families. Um, it was just the norm. And have you looked back at your time as a student there? Can you remember a particular religious sister or a lay teacher that stands out for you? Oh, so many, um, sister Mary Rose, Stan a, he, she taught me in year 12, um, leash and Renaissance history, a student, a small K sister, Joan Cartlidge all of these fabulous women who, who gave me a little bit of their heart.

[00:05:21] They, they, they, what we often talk about in a Catholic education is about being named and known. And I really think. They, they cared for the children. Um, and they knew who they were. Um, they were just really fabulous women, good teachers, warm. Um, and they let you be yourself. Um, so I was, I always thanked my parents for my really fortunate education at gin, uh, because it, it, it made me who I am.

[00:05:49] If you look back at that experience again, as a student, what’s one big takeaway that you, how did it shape you? How did it sort of shape your spirituality, your experience as a student at a Catholic school like that?

[00:06:05] In my core of being, it just made me a person who was responsive to the things of faith. Um, I’d never, and I suppose in some ways I was quite a bit of a student and I liked all the, all the theater of the church as well. You know, I liked going to meth. I liked singing with the guitar group. I liked all that sort of stuff.

[00:06:24] So that sense of community. And belonging, um, and understanding, you know, that common understanding between people of faith, so that when you’re traveling, for example, you meet another Catholic who may not even speak your language, but you’ve got something in common. And, and I love that universality of, of, of the Catholic faith.

[00:06:45] That is so true. We’ve been blessed over the years to do a huge amount of travel. And when I was still teaching Karen and I, uh, got a chance to take a Myra script to Bogan Ville, And this was back in, uh, that’s what meant maybe early two thousands. And the civil war was still pretty fresh. And, uh, you know, we, we had this experience of going to mass and, uh, you know, a lot of the villages actually would walk sometimes for hours and hours just to get there.

[00:07:13] And they put on this amazing spread of food that everybody brings. And then we’re in this. Tiny little wooden church, uh, you know, men and women were segregated culturally there, the women sit on one side, the men sit on the other and, uh, the singing was incredible. And, you know, to have been, to have been there, to like to have experienced the faith in Bogan Ville, and then to experience it, uh, a couple of years ago, we were in Iceland and, uh, And heading to mass in Iceland was a extraordinary silo.

[00:07:45] I think you make a great point. There’s one. When she really imbibed the faith, you realize how truly Catholic and universal it can be. So let me ask you, once you had your time there, when she’d finished as a student, tell us about your journey into Catholic ed becoming a Catholic educator. Right. Okay.

[00:08:05] Well, my journey was a very belated one. As I, as I said, friends, it was very circum navigational. So I went to university, I went and worked for a couple of years. I went traveling for eight years, came back, did a writing course, met my husband, got married thought, well, our better grow up now. Um, you know, my late thirties did a debate and worked in a couple of other schools.

[00:08:27] Um, I wanted to work in the Catholic sector because that’s where my heart is. And then a job came up. And I thought, well, this is my old school and this is where I started and maybe I can do the full circle. So I applied and I got the job at gin in 2008 and have been happy ever since, because I feel I’m giving back to the school that gave so much to me.

[00:08:49] All right. So this is what we really want to talk about is most of, much of my work, I guess, speaking over the years, the last decade or so has been around this. Sometimes there’s an issue of teacher burnout, exhaustion. Uh, as you would know, there are people who give and give and give, and they’re not feeling, um, they’re not being replenished.

[00:09:10] So it leads to a kind of cynicism and exhaustion. How have you managed to navigate that? Oh, that’s a good question. Look, I think, um, Jonathan, I have other interests outside interests, and I think that keeps me balanced. Um, you know, I put a lot into school as all the teachers I work with do, but I also have.

[00:09:30] Outside interests, which sort of, um, I can, I can look to over the weekend or the holidays to, to, to provide that balance. Um, so, and that’s very important because I think these days, you know, people, teachers do put in a lot, uh, and their Mo more is expected all of them. Uh, so they can be that burnout. If you don’t take absolute care of yourself and, and be aware of what you’re doing and how much you’re doing and when to step back.

[00:09:57] Yeah, crucial. It’s uh, the self care piece is massive. Sometimes in seminars. I used to joke with people, you know, show of hands who’s outrageously leveraged, extravagant self care on themselves in the last week. And you just get the sound of crickets where, uh, you know, people like, and, and also, I think you made a good point.

[00:10:16] They, especially in Australia at the moment, the curriculum is so crowded that it’s just, you know, the time that teachers need, just to think. To replenish to read is just hotter and hotter. Yeah to read for professional purposes, but also to read, to nourish your own mind because I’m an English teacher and I’m always talking and using words.

[00:10:38] And I want more of that so that I can give more. Um, so, you know, I think a teacher is never off on the weekend. We’ll read the paper or there’s an article I could cut out or there’s something I could refer to. That’s topical. It’s the nature of our profession that we’re always looking for something immediate or relevant or topical so that we can bring it to the class.

[00:11:00] Yeah. And I think one of the other big challenges, sometimes I talk about is often educational experts and people in government have a thought bubble. And before, you know, it, that thought bubble is a new area of curriculum. And then, uh, it’s kind of, we’re just expecting teachers to just, it’s just cramming that curriculum, you know, it’s sometimes it’s hard to.

[00:11:19] To just have that space and that time to, just to really go deep on topics and to, especially in literature. So, and on that, what, what do you love to teach in literature? Oh, well, when I’m teaching you seven and year 10 at the moment. So again, we’re doing the classic to kill a Mockingbird, which is a fantastic, we’re going to, I must’ve read it about five times.

[00:11:39] I reread it each year to see what else I can get out of it. And I came across his most beautiful phrase recently when Scott a scout is talking about her growing up and she talks about the routine contentment. Of her childhood and I’d never struck that phrase before it hadn’t ever noticed it before, but it really resonated this time.

[00:12:01] Um, so we’re also looking at 12 angry men and in year seven, we’re doing a great little novel called the war that saved my life about, um, the evacuees from London, uh, during world war two and the little, little heroin, um, who overcomes lots of obstacles there. So they’re great books to study the classics and containers.

[00:12:21] Yeah, I think, uh, I would say as you were talking, I did double major English in year 12 and, uh, We did a lot of Shakespeare. We had a great teacher and one of our real joys was diligently studying all the best Shakespearian insults or the mastery of Shakespearian. Insults was a crucial part of my Catholic English literature formation.

[00:12:41] So I’ve just, um, I’ve just started with my daughter. Somebody really got me onto this idea of the Harvard classics. Well, apparently you can get it done in a year. So she’s 13 at a Catholic high school and she’s just starting on Benjamin Franklin. So we’ll see how we go. But, uh, well, so tell us, what are you, what are you most enjoying at the moment?

[00:13:03] Working with young people as a Catholic educator, what gives you most life? What do you enjoy about working with young people? Well, I think still there’s a lot of hope in young people. I think, you know, you’ve always got to look at their hope at the, at the sense of, you know, we have got a future and we’re going to take it.

[00:13:23] The other thing about young people is they are much more activist than we ever were. Um, that they’re really taking on board, lots of issues, perhaps they don’t know the, the, the depth and the, uh, the sort of intricacies of some of these issues, but they’re taking them on board. And I think over the course of a couple of generations, we will see a better kind of world because of that.

[00:13:46] Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s a good point. There’s a huge, there’s a big shift. Isn’t it? It’s been getting to say when it actually really started to kick in, um, I was reading a pretty scholarly piece that I, on the risks of audiology and one of these professors was making the point that. One of the best services we can give young people is to help them grasp the nuances of complex topics.

[00:14:11] I mean, uh, a lot of our media culture and social media culture simplifies and energizes things as though they’re, they’re incredibly straightforward, but the older we get in life, we realize that there’s, um, there’s more gray than we once thought in some things,

[00:14:29] a lot of complexity. And I think it behooves us to, to get strip that out for our students as best we can, because they tend to take the big picture and not get the subtlety. So that’s one of our jobs to tease things out and, and to highlight things and to be a moderator in some ways. Um, because sometimes the kids can go like a bull at a gate at things, and maybe they need to be stepped back.

[00:14:55] So it’s a little bit more thought through. So what keeps you there at the moment? So when you get up in the morning, And you think about your wake up and you’re going, um, I’m going into work today. What keeps you involved with Catholic education? I think my commitment to certainly the sisters who founded the school, I’ve got a big commitment to them and what they did.

[00:15:18] So that, that is certainly part of it. Also, I think this idea of, of a community of faith and belief and worship, and I like to think of all the good things the church does. I know we have had some. Terrible and justifiably a bad press for many things, but I also always want to highlight the good things and the good ordinary people who do, who keep us going.

[00:15:43] You know, the volunteering, the Vinnies, the carer tests, um, you know, the people who collect on Sundays. All the good nuns and priests and, and all the people who, who, who in many unsung ways are the glue of our Catholic community. So what I get up four in the morning is. Yes, I teach my subjects, but I also try to teach a little bit of who I am and, and give some life lessons about trying to be a good person without being overly preachy.

[00:16:13] Uh, but, but just talk about faith when it comes up in a, in a relevant sort of way. And you know, I do talk about being at this school and that formative influence, and I hope in some ways I’m a little bit formative for some of the girls as well. They might remember something. I think so. I think they will.

[00:16:31] I think what you’re talking about is modeling and there’s so much stuff in the church documents and education around, you know, one thing that really struck me reading those documents over the years was this idea of environment. They said that if you think of a Catholic school, you know, there’s Jenna sauna there, you’ve got the buildings, you’ve got the rooms.

[00:16:51] You could have students in there and you can have desks and chairs. And you could have big screens with piped in educational content, but if you take the teachers out of the school, what you don’t have a lot left, you don’t really have a school. And then the documents are really interesting because they say it’s, it’s the, it’s the teachers that actually create.

[00:17:11] The environment in a school and science, uh, create that, that, that climate. Um, I think it’s, and we, Jen, try to create this climate of hope and possibility and, and innovation and, and, and thinking. And of course we always talk about the relational aspects. We’re not just delivering a curriculum. We have a little human being in front of us.

[00:17:34] Um, with all their flaws and affordables and joys and, um, changing movers and upbeat and downbeat and everything, but they are a person in front of us. So we’ve got to be quite aware that we’re not just delivering a topic where we’re bringing a person to it, to a new idea. Yeah. Yeah. It’s uh, it’s, it’s about that perspective on what we think a human person actually is.

[00:18:02] I used to in seminars, I used to say, you know, if you look at the worst of the 20th century, if you look at the, the gulags of Soviet Russia, if you look at the worst of world war two, ultimately what it boils down to is, is a terribly impoverished vision of the dignity of persons. So what’s beautiful about Catholic education is that if we have that.

[00:18:27] Deep rich view of the person of young people made in the image of God. Then we relate to them in a particular way. Um, it’s easy for me to say that I’ve been thinking even in a family with three young kids, it’s like come home and it’s like, dear Lord, help me to see the beauty and made them in your image.

[00:18:45] And most of the time we’ll get there. Yeah, Jonathan and you know, not, not every class is wonderful. There, there are days when it’s not as, as buoyant and bring it as you’d hope, but, but that’s, that’s the human being and we all, we all come together and, and we learn to be forgiving of each other a little bit because, you know, that’s the nature of who we are.

[00:19:08] What moves you? What sort of, if you look at the challenges, you think young people and young women specifically in your context, their face, what, what moves your heart? What breaks your heart for young people at the moment? What do you think are the real issues that, that concern you or upset you? Well, what I suppose, what breaks my heart is, is.

[00:19:27] Sometimes the lack of confidence that, that young people can have boys or girls. Um, because of, because of social media, I, I think that there’s, uh, an awful, um, template out there that they’ve got to look or sound or be, or belong or buy or consume or whatever. Uh, and that can be very, very hard on a developing young person, um, without, you know, parents and teachers and other strong adults being able to counter that.

[00:19:57] I think I never had to worry about how I looked when I was growing up. I just grew up and I played netball and I had fun and I had friends and it was all pretty normal these days. I think there were so many inputs. To our children that they’re trying to sort of touch and taste them all. And, and they don’t know where they are.

[00:20:17] Um, I think it’s very hard these days to negotiate adolescents. Um, so I’m very mindful of that, that in our Catholic schools, We have time for, for prayer, for meditation, for discussion, uh, for those things that, that give us a bit of downtime too, to just be still if necessary, or to talk through an issue that, that, that might be percolating.

[00:20:41] Yeah. I’ve, I’ve sat in so many podcasts over the years that, you know, one of the mistakes we can make in, I guess, youth evangelization is to try and out entertain the most entertained culture in history, which is like, you know, for, for a long time, it was, how can we, you know, I guess what I’m getting at is that the beautiful gifts of silence, contemplation, stillness.

[00:21:08] That was the that’s the strength, you know, because it’s the counter-cultural thing that so many young people aren’t getting, but, um, look, I’m learning my daughter’s 13 and, uh, It’s a, it’s a constant discussion. She doesn’t have a phone and believe it or not, she doesn’t want one at this stage. So, and she said, that’s fabulous.

[00:21:26] Yeah. Pretty success, Jonathan. Um, the, you know, the mantra that I often have with her, as I say, United dial, and I said, there’s not a lot of upside. I said, there’s. For what it is. It’s a, especially on the social media side, there’s there’s for young people is, um, you know, I, I questioned that. There’s just, especially for girls at the moment.

[00:21:46] It’s, it’s, it’s challenging. So, um, I wanted to ask you in a highly technocratic secular culture, how do you. Help young women encounter the person of Jesus. What do you think is effective? What do you think can work in helping highly secularized, you know, in a very technocratic culture, how do you think Catholic schools can do a good job of reaching young people with the person of Jesus and the message of faith?

[00:22:17] I think what we do well, uh, is do things that are of, um, uh, justice nature, uh, collecting, um, provide fundraising. Those sorts of things and always linking it back to the message of the gospel. You know, when I was hungry, um, those sorts of things, I think we do that very well. I think sometimes the girls get, people get very hands on with the fundraising and they do that because they care about the cause and we have to deliberately draw it back to the Jesus message, the gospel imperative of loving God and loving neighbor.

[00:22:55] Um, and. That is hard in this stimulus pluralist world bodies at USAF our job and our duty and our joy in some ways to try and bring it back to, to that, that first example, um, of, of Jesus. And what he, what do you think he was like? Oh, well that’s a really good question. Um, I think it was fair. Um, I think he was probably sure.

[00:23:29] I, you know, I swarthy he wasn’t a Semite after all. Uh, I think he probably had loving, loving Brown eyes. Um, I think he listened. I think he didn’t always have to be. Number one talking guide. Um, I think you had the capacity to listen and discern and have humility. So, um, his leadership, well, that servant leadership model was exactly who he was.

[00:23:59] So it wasn’t always about, it was nothing about being the big, big, biggest, and best. It was much more considered and deliberate and kind, and, and shy. Um, but there was something great going on. Yeah. Have you believe in, have you seen any of the chosen series? No. No. It’s going to mess you up for anyone listening.

[00:24:28] I know many people have seen it. So the chosen is a free though. You have the option to contribute. Um, it’s like a Netflix binge series about Jesus. It is, it is off the scale. Amazing. So it’s not on Netflix, it’s an app. So if you’ve got you, can you get it almost as an app from an app store called the chosen?

[00:24:53] You can find it on the internet too, but honestly, It’s to Ari superiors. I was listening to your talking and I thought I watched the first episode and you know, I’m not old school, but I’m sort of, you know, people see me as quite a man’s man, but I was messed up watching the first episode. I was like, I was like, it was deeply, deeply moving.

[00:25:17] There’s a scene there at the start where he reveals. Just his relationship with, um, with Mary Magdalen, it was just extraordinary. So there’s yeah. It’s, it’s been quite profound listening to you talk about your perception of him. It resonated having watched that. So there’s, there’s some homework for everybody.

[00:25:33] Oh, hello, Jonathan. I’ll have to sign up for it. Yes. Because, and I think, you know, the more, the various, um, ways we can get people to access their own spirituality or their own understanding. It’s, it’s never a one size fits all. Um, and we also understand in Catholic education that some will be with us straight away, some will reject and come back later.

[00:25:55] Some will find another way. And I suppose the big thing is that in our schools, we are invitational and no longer dogmatic. So it’s much more inclusive and, and, and receptive to where the students are. And in trying to provide answers for them. There’s a great quote. Yeah. There’s a great quote from John Paul two, who beautifully said that, uh, the Catholic church proposes, she never imposes.

[00:26:23] And I was like, I always liked that line. It was, uh, but I think there’s a responsibility there too. We’ve got to get as effective as we can be at proposing the message of faith. And I’m often thinking beauty has got a lot to do with that. I think, you know, The ability, a beautiful art, beautiful music, uh, a chance to represent that, that message, that, that experience of God through that.

[00:26:47] I think that’s absolutely important. You know, looking at at the Gregg painting was the prodigal son by Rembrandt or the last supper or, uh, any number of paintings or, or beautiful music that can take to it can take you away from the temporal realm and put you somewhere else and put you in. In that godly space.

[00:27:07] Uh, I’m a great one for that. Um, I can waste a lot of time looking at beautiful paintings and, and reading. Um, John or Donna. Who’s one of my favorite writers. Um, you know, just, just John to, to stir up. I love some of the common sense of these people. Um, and the way that you, you can be lifted. I can be lifted by anything, if you want to be the truth is I love listening to you because I remember 1994, I was in Liverpool in England and I was doing a gap year.

[00:27:37] And I like to say to people that I was over there drinking professionally for Australia. And I, I can promise you that I didn’t dock in the doorstep for too many churches at that time in my life. And I ended up, but I still had a love for, uh, for art. And for beauty is sort of, uh, been exposed to as a kid.

[00:27:55] And I walked into the Liverpool, uh, metropolitan gallery and I was wandering around and all of a sudden I walked in this little room. And there’s this one large, large painting, um, of Daniel in the lion’s den. And this thing just hit me between the eyes. And now years later, I bought one, I’ve got a huge framed on of it, but I remember being incredibly struck by it at that stage of my life.

[00:28:20] And it’s by a French painter called Britain Revere. And. I remember seeing it thinking Daniel standing there and the lions are carrying and it’s beautifully presented because you can tell that the lions can see something behind him that Daniel can’t see, and the lines are like, and I was really moved by that.

[00:28:39] So at a point in my life, even when I wasn’t particularly open to faith, the ability of beautiful religious art to, to move me was profound. And I think that can happen at any age, Jonathan, because more recently, it might’ve been 10 years ago. I was in London and popped into national gallery as I always do.

[00:28:57] And I came across this most beautiful painting of the Holy family, um, by a chap called better Rico, but Archie and it was, it was, um, it was called our lady of the family with the cash. And it was Jesus and John, the Baptist and Joseph and Mary, and they were smiling and laughing that the carryings on have a little cat.

[00:29:17] And I just loved it because it was, it wasn’t sort of stiff or post. It was just happy domesticity. Um, and I’d never, you know, so that was that’s in fact by my desk, I’ve got it laminated by my desk now and just a happy, happy family as they work. Well, let me ask you the important thing, because there is a big news.

[00:29:37] You, uh, you’ve been busy. Oh, yes, Jonathan, look, I’m always up because I’m an English teacher. I’ve always been a bit of a scribbler. And so I’ve got a book coming out in August called blessing or blessed, uh, meditations on a life of small wonders. And it’s a, as I call it a popery or on the felony of musings, some of which are about faith, but there’s life, there’s travel.

[00:30:04] There’s education, poetry writing my first kiss. Family memories, Paris, London, Boston. It’s just a whole lot of stuff. Some of which has been published, um, a couple of being published in the mainstream media and sort of expanded or changed a bit. And a lot of it’s completely new. And I suppose it’s just because.

[00:30:26] Faith and life are the, uh, and the, the word, um, uh, what get me going. And of course I love to show the girls when I’m teaching that I’m writing. So it’s that modeling, um, comes through. Have you got a copy in your hands yet? If you had them back from the district? No, no, no, not yet. Um, I think that’ll be in July.

[00:30:48] The, the launch, the official launch is in August, so it’s a little while away, but I have signed off on the, uh, the forward and the font and the dedication of just did that last week. Um, and, um, and it was the first time I’d worked closely with an editor, which was. A great lesson for me. I’m never too old to learn, you know, because I can waffle, I can go on a bit.

[00:31:10] So sometimes you need someone else just to say that’s enough or can you add a bit more? So, you know, another eye, another critical friend really useful. So I’m, but I’m very happy Jonathan, with blessed. I think it’ll be a good read. I think it’ll take people to. Some other places. Um, it’s probably a book to dip into gently and quietly.

[00:31:32] Um, there’s a bit of poetry. There’s a bit of silliness whimsy. Uh, it’s me. Where did the idea come from? Tell us about why you decided to do it. Well, I had a book published or about 10 years ago, the secret garden of spirituality, uh, which sold pretty well. Um, and I suppose as a writer, uh, I’m always looking for avenues to be published.

[00:31:59] I think that’s the reality. If you want to ride. So I have a couple of, I’ve got a little regular column in Australia and Catholics and, uh, so I suppose I’m just trying to enlarge and get a larger audience in some ways. So there’s some sort of compulsion, both to write and write well, but also. Um, there is nothing more gratifying than someone coming up to you, emailing you and just saying, I loved what you said or I, I cut that out or I put it on the fridge or I’ve passed it on to a friend or I read it at a staff meeting.

[00:32:33] So sometimes even though. We’re scribbling away. Sometimes the spirit is behind us and enabling us just to say something good that will catch someone’s heart. Um, and other times it’s a big clunk, but you know, so this, this book blessed is, um, it’s a meditation on, on, on a good life that I’ve had. I’ve been blessed with.

[00:32:55] Um, and it goes through the ups ups and not many downs, but ups and downs of, of, um, uh, of, of my life. It’s a part memoir. Um, and just my faith journey and, you know, it talks about stained glass, windows and pilgrimages. It talks about mother cordon and Mary. It talks about the nuns that I was at school with.

[00:33:18] It talks about friendships and family and, and surviving. COVID you, we try to make it reasonably, um, topical parts of it, but some of these pieces were written. Quite awhile ago and I’ve being published the first time. So there is that sense of evolving the evolving person, if you like. Um, as I go, as I come growing up and being a student in a university and traveled and worked, and here’s, this is where you find me today.

[00:33:49] What’s your favorite part of the book? Oh, that’s very interesting. Look, it’s really hard to say there’s a little poem I’ve written, um, about, uh, sparrows, which it’s a chief, a little thing, and it’s about sparrows being prayerful, little, little chorusters in some way that remind me that the ordinary person in being cheerful contributes to the world.

[00:34:14] Uh, so, um, you know, there are lots of different things is, is, uh, some ruminations on the nature of writing, you know, going to the library and, and, and amazing yourself. Sometimes when you look at your own words and think, did I really write that? And then thanking God, because your brain is really working and you’ve got.

[00:34:35] Something, um, that’s enabled you just to grasp a few, few ideas, a few phrases put them together and they quite lovely, uh, without big noshing, you know, sometimes we all manage something lovely and, you know, that’s, that’s, I’m hoping some of this and that small wonders of our own lives are resonate with readers.

[00:34:56] So good. Where do you, where do you do your writing? Oh, well, mainly at, uh, libraries. Uh, so it’s the Baldwin library or the state library of Victoria. Sometimes in the holidays, I will go up to Bendigo to my sisters. Uh, sometimes in cafes, look not so much at home because home is busy. You know, I’ve got to find a room of my own, but that’s usually a flight room, um, you know, in a library.

[00:35:26] Oh, the state library. I love, I have a particular spot where I sit when ever I go in there and, and, and it’s pretty good because people are quiet and I can just sit there and immerse myself. Do you ever walk in there and someone’s sitting in your spot? Not often because I make sure I get missed if they work, I get in there at 10.

[00:35:49] So, and I’m one of these ones that really walks very quickly to make sure I get some hot spot. Um, and I think people are like that. They begin to recognize and nod, you know? Oh, that’s the lady. That’s that odd lady who sits in that spot all the time. That’s part of the, the deal you sort of, you get to know who’s who in the zoo.

[00:36:08] Yeah, no. The reason I ask you, because when I was writing that I was kind of similar. I kind of have, the libraries are just such the best place to write most of the time. And you do get very set in your ways. You’re kind of like, no, you can’t sit there. That’s my seat. That’s rice. I’m writing a masterpiece.

[00:36:26] That’s right. We get to be precious, Jonathan. I think we drink. We do get a little bit set in our ways. Apparently someone told, I don’t know, it’s sustainment mess. I have a particular spot at my local parish church where I have been sitting for a long time. And, you know, I get a bit, well, if someone’s sitting there and so I try to get her a good time.

[00:36:47] So, I mean, of course I can compromise. But to a certain side or to certain at that the back be hidden. I think it justifies the Catholic doctrine of purgatory. Someone sits in your spot at church. That’s an extra thousand years in purgatory for them right there. And I totally resonate because I’ve been getting to adoration again a bit lately.

[00:37:07] We’ve got a beautiful church linear bar that has a lot of Eucharistic adoration and yeah, I’m just lucky. I’ve got a spot. I’ve got an exact spot and, um, you know, you go in there sometimes and someone’s there and you’re like, you can’t know what are you doing? You can’t be there. That’s my spot. And, um, interesting because so many people admire at my local church.

[00:37:26] Holy Redeemer. They, um, they have sit, they are all sitting in the same seats too, for years. For years. My, my gateway, I’ve got a dear friend who does the priests of the faithful. She and her husband always sit in a certain spot. Another farmer come a couple of girls. They, they are, you know, and, and it’s really interesting.

[00:37:44] And people just sort of know, and we’re always doing the handshake of pace, you know, and it’s the same you’re nodding, or at least as we don’t, we’re nodding at the moment. We’re not, we’re not shaking hands. Um, but you know, it’s the same faces and you know, you just that’s community too. Totally resonate.

[00:38:01] And it’s, um, I think, you know, some of these things are a chance to grow in holiness. Cause if I got a, if I got to adoration, sometimes you sit there and it’s, you know, I love the silence. Right. It’s dead quiet, but then someone will breathe lad and you’ll be they going, why are you breathing so loud? And we’re going, hang on.

[00:38:18] I’m supposed to be here growing in holiness. And here I am reading too loud. They’re doing, I don’t know about a whole lot, other than we knew we will. We’re all trying to be better people, but, uh, we, we fail a lot. We do, we do a great deal. It’s one of the, yeah. Now I want to ask you what, um, what do you hope the book accomplishes for people that, uh, that read it?

[00:38:41] I hope that when they read it, they will be thankful for the lives they have and they will look to, uh, to God to be thankful. It’s a, it’s got a Catholic. Orientation and Christian orientation, but it is for the general reader, but I am hoping anyone who picks this up will say, well, this woman’s got some common sense.

[00:39:06] She’s telling her story with, with gratitude, um, and with joy and a bit of a pep in the step mainly. And I’ll fail. Look, I learned that phrase. I’ll write that down and maybe they’ll share the words with other people. So I hope it’s a book that’s, that’s passed around and, and, um, I suppose it’s a book who said, if anyone picked it up and they know me, they’ll say, yeah, that’s ed.

[00:39:30] That’s exactly who she is. Um, so there’s that whole thing too city, I think in it. I think you make a really good point before where you say that. You know, sometimes it’s just the smallest things, a particular piece of writing that. You know, a thousand people could read it, but the Holy spirit eventually uses it to impact a petite.

[00:39:53] And I think it’s something that I’ve been calling fee is God’s economy. And I say to people that human economy is always around the idea that bigger is better. So more is better than less, more famous is better than less famous. You know, bigger is better than smaller, but often think that God’s economy.

[00:40:12] You know, he looks at what we do in, in our humble attempt to cooperate with grace. And I don’t think there’s a lot of difference between some of the big, fancy things that can be done in the kingdom of God and turning out a great phrase that shift somebody’s life in a fraction in different direction.

[00:40:31] Oh, I couldn’t, I couldn’t agree more Jonathan. And in fact, the opening, it, it does, it talks about, you know, the incremental and the shy and, um, instead of the, the biggest and the brightest, it’s all about small things rather than a triumphal, you know, um, breastfeeding, you know, better. Uh, so it is, it is about noticing.

[00:40:55] Uh, listening, leaning in, um, looking at the bunch of roses, uh, you know, it’s, it is, it is perhaps the smaller, more ordinary things that we sometimes dismiss that can give us joy. They are, they are our days. Yeah. Yeah. I can think of a few key moments in life where somebody said something in passing that kind of.

[00:41:17] That was a throwaway line that can really stick and stay with you and move you in a new direction. So I guess that’s what prayers about, I guess, if we try to grow in grace and sacrament and prayer, that we at least allowing the Holy spirit a bit more of a shot at moving us in the right direction to help other people, right.

[00:41:34] Absolutely. And, and, you know, sometimes I’ll say the girls look last night, I sat in my chair and I did the examine and I sort of went through my day and I tried to sort myself out a bit. Did I do something well, did I do it badly? Could I do it better? Can I be forgiven? Thanks for this day. And I’ll try again tomorrow.

[00:41:54] Um, so I, I don’t rattle on about Korea, but I do talk about the, the importance of. Of, of those moments of stillness, where you just are with yourself and with God and you haven’t sifting and sorting, I always liked the quote from basil Pennington. Who’s a great master of contemplative prayer. And he famously said, he’s advice for prayer was praise.

[00:42:19] You can not, as you can’t. Oh yeah. Good one. Yes, exactly. Like that. True. And I say to the girls, you know, um, God, doesn’t worry about grammar or punctuation. Keep the intention in the heart becomes first. And it doesn’t matter if it’s stumbling or in articulate, he knows what you need. Yeah. And I think it’s one of the great things about the Catholic faith is that we have so many amazing men and women saints.

[00:42:48] Whose spirituality was so remarkably different. You’ve got your, you know, your cerebral, um, Military Ignatius. And then you’ve got your Terez of leisure and they’re both having these profound experiences of faith and prayer, you know, just in very different spiritualities. So now as we wrap up, um, I want to ask you a couple of last things.

[00:43:16] Uh, we’re going to put links to the book in the show notes and on the website, but it’s a bit laneway press. Laneway press. Yes. That’s based in Abbotsford in, uh, Victoria. Uh, it will be launched in August. Um, so yes, it’s blessing medications on the life of Saul wonders and I’m very thrilled that my sister Fiona, um, has done the cover art.

[00:43:41] So it’s a little bit about a family fish. Uh, so I’m really hoping that. It w it will, it will sell well. Um, but it’ll, people will take a bit of my heart to them and it, it might just go out and, and, and Goodwill, uplifting words, affirming words, um, too heavy. It’s it’s not a philosophical treatise. It’s just some words from, as it says, on the blue, a woman who’s trying to wise up.

[00:44:10] So good. All right. So it’s limelight, press bless it. And we’ll put links directly to it. Um, last couple of questions. Um, what are you looking forward to in the remaining time you have in education? Might it be long by the way, I’ve got a few years left. Uh, look, I think there will be changes. I think there will be, um, Uh, I’m hoping that things will be less regimented and more workshop like, um, you know, I think that needs to be done.

[00:44:41] I think sometimes we can sit in classes that way they are not engaged or it’s just something that they will never take with them. So if we can get to an educational. Stage where we’re finding what the gifts and talents are earlier. And it’s a bit more invitational. Um, you know, I know there are basics, which must be learned, um, ever before for literacy.

[00:45:07] Um, but I’m hoping it won’t be quite so, um, timetable. You know, there might be room for latest starts and, and workshops and maybe four days a week, they might be, you know, the odd zoom lesson at home. Um, there are there ways we could do this better? I certainly think the importance of a campus, uh, is essential though.

[00:45:32] I think that the whole idea of a school is we are a community, so we mustn’t lose that, but there are ways of loosening loosening, some ties, which enable people to come back. Uh, you’re on to something. Cause, uh, one of the other hats I wear in another business is, um, around global macro finance and crypto economics and blockchain strategy.

[00:45:52] And, uh, one of the things we look at is, you know, the highly disruptive nature of technology in general and education is as you know, already being disrupted by it and it’s going to happen more, but, and it’s a big, but I think you make a crucial point. About the need for campus-based human interaction.

[00:46:10] You know, we, as a species, we’ve been hominids for multiple millions of years and we’ve evolved to be together. And there’s only so much a hundred percent, there’s only so much zoom you can do. And, um, all right. My last question has to be, this is a challenging one. Okay. I want to finish on this and there’s no presumption and I think it’s a good question is, uh, What would you like your legacy to be in your journey of Catholic education?

[00:46:40] Have you, uh, if you could have some influence or some sense of summarizing the legacy you’d like to have had in your journey, what would it be? I think I would like in 40 years time when the girls are having a bit of a reunion, I remember what Mrs. Ronnie said, or she had some good ideas. Or do you remember when she said that and she was consistent?

[00:47:06] She was, she was kind, she did her best for us. And I suppose with the books, I suppose my. And this is perhaps a little ego. I want my words to live beyond me. I, I want my daughter to be proud of my granddaughter and great-granddaughter to have a copy of, of the books and things that I’ve written and they’ll say, well, well, That makes good sense.

[00:47:33] So all that is, if not profound, it’s common sense. So I suppose in a life we always want to leave something. So something of your heart and something of who you are and, uh, yes, that, that’s what I would hope that my, my legacy is is, is something of me that was good, that people can remember. Hmm. It’s so it’s almost profoundly counter-cultural now because so much of our culture is about, you know, look at me, validate me, notice me, but I think what’s beautiful in what you’re saying.

[00:48:10] And what’s central to the heart of a Catholic teacher is how do I contribute? How do I pass on encouragement and blessing? Um, how do I. You know, Steve jobs used to talk about putting a dent in the universe, which I think is a bit of hubris, but I think if we can, um, I don’t think we need to worry about dents in the universe, but I think if we can send out some ripples of encouragement and participate in the, or participate in the love of God, right?

[00:48:36] Like participate in what he’s trying to do in, in, in the cosmos, I guess. Yeah, well, we’re part of that continuum, you know, Newman talks about being part of the continuum and that that’s exactly what I am. I’m part of the Catholic continuum. I am proud to be a Catholic to pass on what I know and, and just to do my best.

[00:48:57] I’m just, as he says, I’m a link in a chain, so good. And I think, and also on that of Chesterton’s famous democracy of the dead, when you were, when you started talking about. The sisters that taught you all as years ago, um, they get a vote in Chesterton’s idea of the democracy of the dead it’s that all of those that came before us in the, in the Catholic faith and in the Catholic education, they get a vote in the sense that their legacy is something that we can be proud of continuing to.

[00:49:25] Absolutely. I love it. That I can, can do the work of the, of the order, the faithful companions of Jesus and, and just. You know, talk about our founders and talk about the good things that she did. And, and, and that story is retold in our classes. And some of it we’ll link on it and the girls understand, well, this is who we are.

[00:49:46] This is our, our inheritance, um, in faith. So what can we take forward? So good. So can people find you anywhere else or should they be or anywhere else? People can find you look, there’s a really laying my press is the best, um, and dot M dot rainy on Instagram.

[00:50:09] I’m also on LinkedIn. Um, I’ve recently rejoined Facebook, but that’s um, so, um, um, I’m not. Uh, you know, so yeah, I’m just, I’m just learning all this stuff again, um, for promotion of the book and it it’s, it’s fantastic. The publisher is really helping me with some of these, these new things that I’m not so familiar with.

[00:50:31] Uh, so you saw them rounded about Google. Come up, we’ll find you. Okay. It’s interesting. You know, Facebook, you probably don’t know this, but I had, um, I had 2000 Catholic teachers in a Facebook group and about two years ago, I went to login 18 months ago. Couldn’t get in, um, banned the whole thing, just Facebook, shut it down.

[00:50:55] And I can promise on my father’s grave. That whole thing, that whole Facebook group. Didn’t never had the slightest contentious thing about anything. It was nothing but encouragement and motivation and someone at Facebook just decided that, um, there was no space for Catholic teachers on Facebook, so I’ve never been able to get back in.

[00:51:16] So I never even got to say goodbye. So, uh, they’re interesting tools. Aren’t they, and we have to be, uh, alert, um, as to, as to how that they, how they can stop a discussion and stop dialogue. Um, you know, and we have to alert our, our students to the fact that, you know, some of these things are, uh, if not dangerous, they can stop the civility, all the, all the dialogue we need, uh, between each other.

[00:51:45] Um, so it’s, it’s interesting. Yeah, we have to tread carefully. Yeah, but on a happy note and rainy author of new book from laneway press. Bless it. Thank you so much for making time for us today and really best of luck with the launch. And thanks for all you’ve done for Catholic education over the years.

[00:52:02] Thank you, Jonathan. It’s been a pleasure and I hope to be doing much more over the next, the coming few years, too. Awesome. Thanks Sam.


[00:52:10]Jonathan: [00:52:10] Well, Hey everybody, Jonathan, back with you again, I really hope you enjoyed that discussion. I think Ann’s got so much to offer and I really look forward to getting a copy of that book. And I really encourage you to go and check out layman repress and make sure you get a pre-order in. I think it’s going to be. 

[00:52:28] A wonderful resource for many Catholic teachers and a great gift, I think for, for those special people in your life. So that’s it for this episode, please make sure you’ve subscribed. Hit that big subscribe button, share this with other Catholic teachers who could. Be encouraged by Anne’s energy and enthusiasm and her story of Catholic education. That’s it from me. My name’s Jonathan Doyle. This has been the Catholic teacher daily podcast. And we’ll have another message for you.  Very soon

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