Catholic connections in Queen’s Birthday honours list

Bridget Snedden

The following are the citations for some of those with Catholic connections who were named in The Queen’s Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours List 2022.

Bridget Snedden of Auckland is made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to people with learning disabilities.

She has been involved with supporting disabled people since the birth of her son with Down syndrome in 1988.

Mrs Snedden has advocated for removing barriers, to enable people with learning disabilities to live self-directed lives in their communities free from discrimination.

As a parent and committee member of the Auckland Down Syndrome Association, she advocated tirelessly for children with Down syndrome to have the same opportunities and experiences as every other child of the same age.

She was an active member of the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA) and, in 1993, she was instrumental in rebuilding the association, when it was in abeyance. She was NZDSA national coordinator from 1993 to 2000. She was centre director of the Parent and Family Resource Centre (now Disability Connect), and then a Spectrum Care Board member for ten years. In 2008, she was invited to join the Down Syndrome International Board as a trustee and board member. She was elected vice-president in 2018, and was president of Down Syndrome International in 2021.

Mrs Snedden initiated the founding of Family Network NZ, a non-profit agency working alongside parents who have a family member with learning disabilities, to create and lead inclusive and self-directed lives.

Jenny Gordon of Waikanae is made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Catholic education.

She has contributed to Catholic education for more than 40 years, with 25 years as a teacher specialising in mathematics and religious education at several state and state-integrated schools, including at St Mary’s College, Wellington.

Mrs Gordon coordinated the Catholic Family Life Education programme for the Archdiocese of Wellington, and was involved with developing and implementing the document “Te Houhanga Rongo: A Path to Healing”.

She became the vicar for education for the Archbishop of Wellington in 2006, becoming the first female and first layperson to hold this role. As vicar for education, she was the Archbishop’s representative, appointed to exercise local jurisdiction for Catholic education. In this role, she oversaw the operation of the Catholic state-integrated schools for the Wellington archdiocese, involving more than 45 schools.

She was instrumental in building a strong relationship between the Ministry of Education, the Association of Proprietors of Integrated Schools (APIS), and the New Zealand Catholic Education Office (NZCEO).

She contributed significantly to the incorporation of the Private School Conditional Integration Act into the Education and Training Act 2020. She coordinated the training for the boards of trustees, and oversaw the appointments of principals and other positions.

Mrs Gordon retired as vicar for education in 2021, and is currently a board member of NZCEO and chairperson of APIS.

Patrick Walsh is made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to education.

He has been the principal of John Paul College in Rotorua since 2003, and has contributed to the education system through a range of leadership and policy roles.

Mr Walsh played a key role in the leadership of the Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand (SPANZ), and has been a member of the executive since 2005, where he has assisted with the formation of policy and procedure.

He has advised the Ministry of Education on several policy issues, and was a member of various working groups within the Ministry. He has used his legal training to benefit the community. He has provided pro bono work in education law for principals throughout New Zealand, and he has helped to draft the by-laws for College Sport Auckland.

He has recently been selected to be New Zealand’s representative on the Education Advisory Committee of the Australia Scholarship Group, and he will be responsible for reporting on trends, issues and initiatives from the New Zealand education sector.

Mr Walsh was a member of the Disciplinary Tribunal of the New Zealand Teachers’ Council, was chair of the working party on Surrender and Retention Guidelines for schools, and was the recipient of the Woolf-Fisher Fellowship to Harvard University in 2020.

He is currently headmaster of Sacred Heart College in Auckland.

Sr Cynthia Kearney, RNDM, of Gisborne, receives the Queen’s Service Medal for services to missionary work and the community.

She is a trained teacher and missionary nun, who first became a Sister of Our Lady of the Missions in 1964, and has devoted the majority of her life to helping those in need.

Sister Kearney was elected to the leadership role of provincial for the Pacific region from 1995 until 2002, travelling extensively for teaching and nursing missions, and to international meetings.

In 1970, she was a founding teacher helping to establish the first secondary school on the island of Savaii in Western Samoa. In 1980, she was invited by the Bishop of Samoa to train young women interested in joining the congregation in Apia, and later became a counsellor for the Suicide Alert Team in Apia.

She is a qualified psychotherapist, was a member of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors, a supervisor of counsellors in training, and a member of the Spiritual Directors’ Association.

She carries out inter-denominational church work, such as leading religious services and workshops. Sister Kearney has volunteered at the St Vincent de Paul Society since 2009, as well as facilitating prayer services at Te Wiremu rest home, running two prayer groups, and visiting the sick and housebound in her own time.



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