Mary moves with the times

The evolution of Mary Sherry’s long career with Parramatta CEO is reflective of the changes to the diocese itself.

Recently retired, Mary started as a cleaner at Mt Carmel Primary School in 1981 after her former principal Sister Sheila offered her a job when she was experiencing difficult times.

Mary appreciated the opportunity and loved the job.

“It was wonderful mingling with the teachers and I became close friends with quite a few teachers,” Mary said.

In 1982 she started at Wentworthville CEO’s office as a part time cleaner. She continued on at Mt Carmel as well until 1987.

At that time there were no separate dioceses such as Broken Bay or Parramatta – Sydney covered the whole area with an office at Wentworthville.

After a year working as a cleaner at Wentworthville Mary was offered a position photocopying documents.

“They saw my potential at that time and took me along with them as the organisation grew.”

The stand alone Parramatta CEO was established at Flushcombe Road, Blacktown, around 1986, with Anne Clarke appointed director.

Mary’s role was soon expanded to photocopying, bulk mailouts and catering. She moved away from cleaning.

“It was my greatest pleasure to prepare Anne Clarke’s tea. She wanted a white tea with two ANZAC biscuits every day at 10.30 so at 10.20 I would be off to the kitchen.

“If there were visitors I was there, I got to know all of them.”

The diocese was rapidly expanding and principals worked for six months to a year in the head office before they started at their new school. Mary bore witness to their development.

In 1989 the CEO moved to its present location at Parramatta and Mary went too, still photocopying five days a week.

“I treated everything with the greatest confidentiality. If anyone asked me, I didn’t know the details, I was professional about it.”

In 2000 Mary went part time for five years to support her children.

In 2005 she returned to full time work and was assigned to central records for filing duties. She received some inhouse IT training and was part of the transition to a paperless system.

“I was able to achieve so much in records, I really loved it,” she said.

In 2006 Greg Whitby became the Parramatta CEO Director. He requested that Mary spend three days a week on reception and two days a week in records.

“I had mixed feelings about this because I loved records and I was still learning there. I had to learn how to do reception from scratch.

“But Greg thought I would be the best person for the job. So I was prepared to take the challenge and got to know so many people at so many schools.

“When I look back I wonder what I was worried about, but change is hard.”

It was during this time of change that Mary joined the IEU.

“I was a bit concerned at the time, but it turned out alright. The IEU organisers were regular visitors to our workplace and I got to know them really well.”

The Parramatta CEO has a large chapter with 100 members.

“I would encourage all support staff to join as there’s a lot of support and it’s very informative, especially what’s contained in Newsmonth.”

Mary plans to stay on as a retired IEU member and attend some IEU events she has never had time to go to before, such as the forthcoming Women’s Conference.

“There’s nothing stopping me now,” she said.

Sue Osborne