I am writing to acknowledge the sad news that Geoff Ricketts, Chair of the New Zealand Catholic Education Office, died on Friday 10 March. This was devastating news for those of us who have had the privilege of serving with him and both the Board and staff (both past and current) of NZCEO wanted to acknowledge his life of service and his wonderful companionship. We extend our sympathies to his wife Fran, children and family and thank them for allowing us to share in the life of this wonderful man. With the permission of James van Schie (General Manager of the Auckland Diocese), I share the following information about Geoff’s outstanding contribution and life of service to so many entities.

Geoff was a leader in the legal, business, philanthropic, church, education, and arts community. A Papal Knight in the Order of St Gregory and a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Bishop Denis recruited Geoff to the Auckland Diocesan Administration Board in 1984. A young family man with four kids and a busy life said ‘yes’ to giving considerable time and talent to advise the Catholic Bishop of Auckland. The church, school, and community projects he helped enable over this period are too numerous to list in this message.

Geoff’s contribution was underpinned by a clear sense of mission, grasping the bigger picture more perceptively than most. He preferred action over excessive introspection and was a man of faith, not fear. When facing a complex problem, Geoff would apply the best of his keen intellect and then also remind us that ‘we are ultimately in the good Lord’s hands and should remember this with confidence’.

Geoff believed in Catholic education and the role it played in our society. He championed fair treatment for Catholic Schools and was a hard working Chair of the New Zealand Catholic Education Office for 18 years. Geoff was a champion for the common good approach to ensuring that all families could access a high quality Catholic education and he understood the responsibility that we all have to support those in our Catholic community who have little.  He recognised the gift of his own Marist Brothers education at Sacred Heart Catholic College and strived to make Catholic education available to others.

It is a blow to the Church and to society to lose Geoff’s wisdom. However, his was a life lived to the full and we have all benefitted from his commitment, passion and ability to bring people together to achieve extraordinary outcomes. Geoff lived life humbly and the Marist brothers maxim of Hidden and Unknown was something that I will certainly remember him for.

To Fran and the family out thoughts and deepest sympathy are with you.

E aroha nui atu ana ki a koutou I tēnei wā

Dr Kevin Shore, CEO