A PASSION for social justice nurtured during his school days drives the man named as the official ambassador for the 2013 Catholic Education Week celebrations in Queensland.
Anthony Ryan, 44, attended St Anthony’s Primary School and Padua College, in Kedron on Brisbane’s northside, before completing his schooling at St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace, and says his passion for social justice was nurtured at those institutions.
“One of my teachers at Padua College used to say ‘preach the Gospel and use words only if you have to’,” he said.
“That idea of living the Gospel and taking action has stayed with me.”
Mr Ryan said the Edmund Rice tradition of the Christian Brothers which he encountered in Year 10 at Gregory Terrace was similar.
“It also taught me the importance of moving beyond just serving, to forming genuine relationships with people in need,” he said.
“The rich heritage of justice and service coming from the charisms of our religious orders is something that I believe Catholics should be extremely proud of.
“I believe Catholic schools are continuing to make a huge difference both in the lives of individuals and in communities.”
Mr Ryan, a former teacher at St Joseph’s, Gregory Terrace, and Nudgee College, and former assistant principal at St Patrick’s Col-lege, Shorncliffe, is chief executive officer of the Edmund Rice Foundation working with the Christian Brothers Oceania Province in their mission of reaching out to the poor in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and the Philippines.
Throughout his teaching career, Mr Ryan has worked in the area of social justice education, including co-founding the “Eddie’s Vans” project to provide meals for the homeless in Brisbane.
His most recent initiative, a program called “Gone Fishing”, involves small groups of corporate leaders travelling overseas to see the work of the Edmund Rice Foundation first-hand.
“Instead of taking a couple of weeks off to literally go fishing or skiing for example, I’m challenging corporate leaders to get out of their comfort-zone and see some of the challenges that people are facing around the world and the work being done to help them,” Mr Ryan said.
“When you see dozens of children sifting through dumps in the slums near Nairobi, you know that the world is not as it should be.
“I believe it is vital that corporate decision-makers, many with the capacity to affect change, have the opportunity to see these things.”
Queensland Catholic Education Commis-sion executive director Mike Byrne said he was delighted Mr Ryan had accepted the invitation to be the state’s Catholic Education Week ambassador.
“Anthony’s work truly brings to life this year’s theme for Catholic Education Week of ‘Making a difference – inspired by Jesus’,” Mr Byrne said.
“I congratulate Anthony on his appointment and thank him for committing the time to carry out this important role for Catholic education in Queensland.”
Mr Byrne said, as official ambassador, Mr Ryan would visit each of the five Queensland dioceses during Catholic Education Week, meeting with various groups of students, staff, parents and parishioners.
He said Catholic Education Week 2013 would run from July 21-27.