Managing the Cathedral – Helen Morassut
Helen Morassut never envisaged that she would be managing a major Cathedral such as St Mary’s but like all enterprises, the Cathedral is a multi-structured organisation with many layers which need to be managed in a business-like manner if it is to achieve its goals.
St Mary’s Cathedral and Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Mother of God, Help of Christians is the home of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney and seat of the Archbishop of Sydney.
Managing the day to day operations of St Mary’s Cathedral Precinct, is the role of General Manager, Helen Morassut.
Reporting to the Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral, the General Manager oversees and manages all staff and all areas of the precinct ensuring the professional and smooth operation of the precinct. This includes managing events, operations, budgets and staff to deliver exceptional service and to create tourism opportunities which enhance the Cathedral’s mission.
“I also work with our Music Department and St Mary’s Cathedral College to create seamless processes and opportunities.”
Previous to this role, Helen Morassut spent more than 20 years in senior media and publishing roles and in her last position, she managed a multimillion dollar publishing business.
“I moved into this role at the end of September 2016. Some would say an odd choice in one’s career journey; however the fundamentals in running a business are the same. And the lure to be General Manager of one of Australia’s most significant buildings and sites was just too good to refuse. We attract and welcome more than 3,000 visitors and tourists on a daily basis so we have an impact on the fabric of this city.
“After living, breathing and working in the commercial world for such a long time, transferring my experience and skills into this role has been extremely rewarding. The role is challenging on many different levels and every day is different. One day I could be mentoring staff, curating a new exhibit, or working on opportunities to grow tourism or developing revenue opportunities in the Cathedral Shop. Another day I could be listening to the concerns of a person in need or reviewing and implementing procedures and policies, or involved in the next wonderful music concert.”
She stresses that the basic fundamental business needs of the Cathedral are ongoing, such as reviewing processes, managing budgets and staff to improve the smooth running of the precinct.
But perhaps the single most rewarding aspect of the role, she says, is the interaction with people – both clergy and non-clergy. “I feel that what I am doing contributes to people’s experience here at the Cathedral and precinct. I strive to, and hope I have, positively contributed to their experience here, regardless if they are staff, clergy or someone in need.”
As General Manager, she sees a key role of St Mary’s Cathedral as not only to welcome parishioners and visitors who come to pray, or attend Mass as part of their commitment to their faith, but also to be an open safe haven for anyone, regardless of religious beliefs, who needs and seeks solace in times of hardship or despair.
“During past crises and when terrible events are happening, it is amazing to see and hear about the numbers of Sydneysiders who, although of no religious belief, come to St Mary’s Cathedral for a quiet safe place to reflect and seek comfort. It makes me very proud to serve the Cathedral,” she concludes.