Church wedding

St Catherine’s appoints interim Christian director amid same-sex marriage row

St Catherine’s, the school at the center of a controversial campaign by the Anglican Diocese of Sydney to force new leaders to confess their opposition to same-sex marriage, has brought a former headmaster out of retirement to serve as acting head for two years .

The school’s board has appointed Judith Poole, who went into semi-retirement after leaving as principal of Abbotsleigh in 2016, to lead the school in 2023 and 2024 following the departure of the current principal , Julie Townsend, at the end of the year.

As acting head, she is not required to sign the Anglican Church’s personal statement of faith that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The parents of the school fought against the edict of the church synod. St Catherine’s is in Waverley, which voted overwhelmingly for same-sex marriage in the 2017 postal vote.

Sainte-Catherine School has announced a new interim principal.Credit:Janie Barrett

In a letter to the school community on Tuesday, board chairwoman Danusia Cameron said Poole was “an outstanding educator and visionary leader.” The letter said Poole was an active Christian. Abbotsleigh is also an Anglican school run by the diocese.

He did not explain why the board chose an interim nominee over a permanent nominee, but he said that as acting director, Ms Poole did not have to sign the statement.

The Herald spoke to parents who welcomed the decision.

“It shows that the council has listened to the community,” said one. “We welcome the result. It’s a good result. She’s a Christian and that was expected. Two years creates stability and time and space to work with the diocese on this serious issue.

Poole said she wanted to educate students in a “caring, positive and challenging environment”. “My commitment to the pastoral care of each student, the professional development of each staff member and the well-being of the entire school community is fundamental to my leadership,” she said.