A warm welcome to you all to the school year of 2017. I would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to all families of students who have joined the Loreto Normanhurst community this year. I trust that your daughter has settled well into her new school and am confident that she will bring to Loreto a great sense of excitement and enthusiasm for learning and for life. All staff look forward to working with you to support your daughter at this stage of her school life and beyond. The return of students and staff has been one of great energy and vitality this week, causing us all to hold great hope and promise for the year ahead and indeed for the future well beyond these months.
I have been thinking a lot about hope and truth lately. It’s difficult not to when trying to make sense of our place in a world that could very easily propel us into doom and despair, into questioning the very essence of what is true. We have heard talk in recent weeks of ‘alternative facts’, of ‘falsehoods and truisms’, of ‘fake news’, of living in a ‘post-truth’ world. These concepts are jarring when pronounced and can very easily manipulate, dissuade and call to question the worldview given to us by the Gospels, the Mary Ward charism, and our Loreto values. However I have been drawn right back into these values more deeply than ever in these times and propose that it is through this lens of love and hope that we must be drawn and must continue to guide our daughters, students and young people as they navigate childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. The beautiful simplicity of Mary Ward’s words “This is Verity – to do what we have to do well” provides us with a firm pathway in such times. It is underpinned by the profound truth of who we are and what gives meaning to our lives. It is this truth that leads us to freedom – an inner freedom grounded in the endless access to God’s love and of coming to know that love in our relationships and in our ordinary every-day experiences.
Our Christian tradition provides us with a lens of love through which to understand truth. We have had it modelled in Jesus who tells us “I am the way, the truth and the life”. This way of truth is an endless, outpouring of love and goodness. This love becomes the source of energy through which we can be witnesses of hope to our children and young people. When we act out of love, we never relent in speaking the truth, hearing the truth, seeking the truth and acting out of truth. Our girls are blessed to be formed and educated in this way. I see and hear it lived out in their astute questioning of structures that perpetuate injustice, in the humble ways in which they serve their community, in the opening of circles of friendship. I feel it in the pain they can experience when wrongly accused of something or having experienced the manipulation or betrayal of a friend or loved one.
When truth is absent we become quickly rattled and unsettled in heart and mind. In these times, an education that liberates the individual is uniquely positioned to respond by providing love, goodness and kindness as the barometer for judging what is right and wrong.
It is the role of those of us in precious positions of influence in the lives of our girls – parents, teachers, extended family members, those in positions of power and authority in media, civics, government and popular culture – to hold firmly on to the belief that every human person is capable of discovering and embracing goodness and truth. And so as we move into this Year of Freedom may our relationships be open and trusting, may we through our actions and words send a message that Love is the only rational act, and may we have the confidence to refer all to our loving and forgiving God so that we may be truly free.
Ms Marina Ugonotti