Dean of Mission

Mission at Loreto Normanhurst

In his wonderful book, “The Work of Mercy: Being the Hands and Heart of Christ”, Mark Shea writes: “We are to feed the hungry for two basic reasons that I can detect in the Catholic tradition.  First, because the hungry are hungry, and second, because the hungry are Jesus…  The demand of Jesus to feed the hungry is challengingly open-ended.  In a world of starving people, our tradition says to live within our means, take care of our families  –  and be as generous as God.  A terrifying prospect.  In a word, do not act from Minimum Daily Adult Requirement stinginess, which asks, ‘What’s the least generosity I can get away with and still make the cut?’  Instead, like Christ, ask, ‘How can I give my life away in love for God’ ”. 

How can I give my life away in love for God?  As I read those words for the first time I was struck by the direct beauty and attractiveness of them, and equally by the way they echo the dream and the life of Mary Ward.  The Loreto tradition we are blessed to be part of originated with one woman’s own love – her love of God, and her desire to give herself away utterly in love for God.  That desire became reality because she listened to what she called ‘God’s deep dream’ for her, and she responded to that invitation wholeheartedly, time and time again, in success and failure, in health and sickness, through criticism, challenge and adversity.  She said, “I will do these things in love or I will let them alone”.  As she looked at the world of her day, Mary Ward saw a need, and against all odds, in the early seventeenth century English world in which Catholics were hounded and persecuted, and going against the conventions of that time which dictated that women religious should remain within convent walls, she established the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an uncloistered religious order, and set about establishing schools to educate young women.  Her commitment was contagious and others joined her in her work and in that same wholehearted giving of themselves to God.

Today, we continue that mission.  We continue to listen to God’s dream for us in our own time and place.  We reflect and discern our way forward so that we too may respond to the needs of our time.  And above all, at the heart of our mission, is love for God and the invitation to give ourselves away utterly in love  –  for God and for others.  As we celebrate the Loreto Value of Felicity this year we are learning what it means to be open-hearted and generous, courageous and hope-filled, especially when it is not easy to be so.  We are reminded day by day that our good humour and cheerful attitude are based firmly on trust in God’s loving presence and action at all times, and in all aspects of our lives.  We are called to grow in awareness of that.  In the wider Church, this year is the Holy Year of Mercy, and what a wonderful partnership we have in Felicity and Mercy!  The mercy of God, the welcoming, loving embrace of God, is able to transform hearts and lives.  And just as Felicity reminds us that we must reach out to others in relationships characterised by justice, forgiveness, peace, gentleness, good humour and friendliness, so mercy invites us to do the same.            

We are almost at the end of our Lenten season, that great time of re-orientation, of getting back on track should we have wandered.  Lent is a time of self-awareness when we ask the tough questions about ourselves and how we are, but it is a joyful time too for each day brings with it possibility for growth and love.  Next week is Holy Week, that glorious week of moving into and through the drama of Jesus’ passion and death.  He was acclaimed and welcomed as a hero as he entered Jerusalem on the first day of the week, but by the end of that week he had been betrayed, undergone a trial, suffered and been put to death.  It was the worst kind of death, that reserved for slaves and criminals.  But in and through that darkness we find his own utter self-giving in love –  love for God and love for humanity.  In the depths of his last hours we find a man deserted by his friends, a man who struggled, who felt fearful, who asked that that cup might pass him by, who could have run away, but didn’t.  A man who remained faithful to the God he had always known so intimately, and faithful to his life commitment to speak about that God of love and forgiveness.  And of course we celebrate God’s great ‘yes’ to Jesus’ self-giving love on Easter Sunday, the Love from which nothing can separate us. 

The drama of Holy Week mirrors that of our own lives.  Darkness and light are interwoven, suffering and joy.  And through it all we are called to love.  Lent reminds us of that.  Each time we pause to pray we are reminded of that.  Our days here at Loreto are prayer-filled and our call is always to come humbly before God who speaks into our hearts, heals our own brokenness and raises us up.  The three days of the recent Year 12 retreat remind us of that.  That retreat is called, ‘Listening for God’, and is a call to awaken to the beauty, the loveliness, the sacredness of life.  Our Lenten appeals for generous giving to Project Compassion and for clothes for refugees cared for by the House of Welcome, remind us of that love.  The community service undertaken by our students in Years 10 and 11, remind us of that.  Our response to Close the Gap, the appalling difference in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, reminds us of that love, as does our acknowledgement of International Women’s Day and our concern for women’s rights and dignity, for freedom from the horror of violence and trafficking.  All our endeavours and celebrations are born of that call to ‘feed the hungry’, and to do it with loving and uncalculated generosity. 

In our Mary Ward quad we have a big wooden Lenten cross which has been there for the past five weeks.  It is right there amidst the busyness of students and staff crossing the quad on their way to classes.  It quietly speaks its message as girls sit in the quad chatting at recess and lunch time.  Its message is above all an invitation to open our arms in generous self-giving.  And to do this when all is going well for us, and equally, when we know darkness and pain.  It is a powerful reminder that life is stronger than death, goodness is stronger than evil, hope is stronger than fear.  It reminds us above all that here at Loreto we are asked each day  –  in small and big ways, in the ordinary events of our days as we go about all we do, in our relationships and in our choices, on the sporting field, in the classroom, in our study groups, in the boarding community and in our circles of friendship  –  to ponder that question:  ‘How can I give my life away in love for God’. 

We have just completed our own Doors of Mercy here at Loreto.  In celebration of the Holy Year of Mercy, our chapel doors have been decorated with greenery and beautiful white roses, reflecting the Holy Doors at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and those at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.  The reason for having Holy Doors is to become mindful of God’s loving mercy to us – and to walk through those doors  –  many times  –  into the arms of our compassionate, forgiving and loving God.  During the Easter season, when we return after the Easter break, we will be having small group ceremonies, and all students and staff will have the opportunity to walk through the doors of mercy and to spend time in prayer in our chapel.  God’s abundant love, the source of our joy and generosity, and the heart of our mission.

Below you will find the times of the various Holy Week and Easter Triduum ceremonies at some of the local parishes.  As you journey through that week and into Easter may you be blessed, comforted and held in Love.   

 

Times of Holy Week and Easter Liturgies and Masses

Parish

Holy Thursday

Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Good Friday

Stations of the Cross

Good Friday

The Passion of our Lord

Saturday

Easter Vigil

Sunday

Resurrection of the Lord

Holy Name

Wahroonga

7:00pm

10:00am

3:00pm

7:00pm

9:15am

OLOR Cathedral Waitara

8:00pm

10:00am

3:00pm

7:30pm

8:00am

9:30am

St Agatha’s Pennant Hills

7:30pm

10:00am

3:00pm

7:00pm

7:30am

9:00am

10:30am

6:00pm

St  Bernadette’s Castle Hill

7:30pm

9:30am

12:00pm

3:00pm

6:00pm

7:30am

9:00am

10:30am

6:00pm

Sacred Heart Pymble

7:30pm

10:30am

3:00pm

7:00pm

7:45am

9:30am

6:00pm

St Gerard Majella

Carlingford

7:30pm

10:00am

3:00pm

7:00pm

8:00am

10:00am

Queen of Peace

Normanhurst

6:00pm

 

8:00pm

(Korean)

6:00pm

12:00pm

 

8:00pm

(Korean)

N/A

7:00am

9:00am

 

11:00am

(Korean)

 

If you would like to experience a most beautiful and moving Solemn Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord, you may like to attend the Good Friday Liturgy at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, at 3:00pm.  The singing of the Cathedral Choir is exquisite and always includes the Allegri Miserere.                

 

Ms Kerry McCullough

Dean of Mission