5 minutes with Catherine
Tell us a little about you
I have the privilege of serving as Chief Executive Officer of Mission Australia, which is a national non-denominational Christian community services organisation that helps Australians’ in need to regain their independence. Our key goal is to reduce homelessness and strengthen communities. I am a Director on a number of Boards, a BoardLinks Champion and member of Chief Executive Women.
I am also Council Member for Tara Anglican School for Girls.
I am married and have two children; two step-children; and 3 grand-sons.
What's your favourite bible passage & why?
Hard to pick just one! If I can take the liberty of having two favourites, they would be Romans 12:2 (Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will) and Galatians 5:22-23 (But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forebearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control).
When I first became a Christian, the idea that I could be transformed was revelatory and I keep
bringing myself back to that key message as my faith journey continues.
And the passages in Galatians were among the first on which I chose to meditate as part of my early prayer life, and I still come back to that meditation regularly. As I go over the passage I pause on each word and pray about what it really means. I ask God to give me insights, for example, what does ‘joy’ look like? How is it expressed? What is ‘peace’? What does it feel like? I have found this exercise to be enriching and to be honest, challenging as I confront my own behaviours and humbly try to assess whether they are aligned with what I profess to believe. I confess that’s when I find it helpful to cross-reference back to Romans 12 and realise that transformation is part of God’s plan – and clearly He is not finished with me yet!
How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?
Jesus tells us that he is the bread of life, which conveys the message of Him being our sustenance, an essential part of life to be partaken of daily.
So to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, over quite a number of years now, I have developed the habit of daily Bible reading using a plan that results in reading the whole of the Bible in one year. I started in hardcopy with a devotional Bible that’s arranged in daily reading passages but in the past 12 months I have switched to online and now use the daily reading plan on YouVersion Bible App.
A habit of daily Bible reading has deepened my understanding of God’s Word. Each year I am still learning more as I read through the whole of the Bible and I have found it easier to get the
connections between Old and New Testament by reading the Bible in its entirety. And I especially like getting to know the characters in the Bible, people who are just like you and me. I try to think what it would be like walking a mile in their shoes: would my actions be the same; how would I have responded in that situation; would I have done anything differently?
What would you like the next generation of Christian women to know?
I would like the next generation of Christian women to know about the amazing women in the Bible. Read their stories, be encouraged or challenged by their examples, especially those who were in a position to converse directly with Jesus! Women are not absent from God’s plan or God’s Word and we have plenty of opportunity to witness about the saving Grace of Jesus Christ in the many roles we play during the course of our lives.
What's one thing that you love about your local church?
My husband and I worship at Christ Church St Ives. The one thing I love most is the Bible-based teaching, which recognises scripture as the living Word of God.
What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard?
There was one particular episode in my life when I really learnt to value the words in Scripture and to appreciate how timeless and unbelievably personal they are. In fact, I sometimes think of the Bible as the ‘handbook of life’. Our Creator really does know us intimately.
During the ‘Recession that Australia had to have’ – in the early 90’s – our family was facing severe financial hardship. My daughter was 2 and my son had not yet turned one. It was a very distressing time and one day when I was feeling extremely anxious about, literally, not being able to afford groceries I turned to the Bible. I was newly Christian at that time and so didn’t really know which passages to turn to in the Bible, only that I wanted to reach for it. But I have no doubt that God knew where I should turn and so it was that my Bible fell open at Matthew 6:25-34. And with that my anxious mind was transformed, Praise God!
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about hearing God’s word and putting it into action (James 2:15-17). Jesus teaches us to love our neighbour as ourselves. For me that includes speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8-10) and caring for those in need (Matthew 25:37-40). That is why I feel privileged to lead an organisation like Mission Australia which has as its founding purpose: “Inspired by Jesus Christ, Mission Australia exists to meet human need and to spread the knowledge of the love of God.”
What do you enjoy doing when you rest?
I can never have too much time with our beautiful grand-children and when time permits I also