Deputy Principal’s Message
Ms Ugonotti reported in last week’s newsletter that she will be in Rome this week taking part in a roundtable discussion which will focus on the model of sustainable governance required for Catholic organisations to respond to the uniquely complex challenges of our times. Ms Ugonotti will report on her learnings on her return next week.
I have been lucky enough to celebrate many feast days around the world, mostly in Italy or South America, and they have all had elements in common; a religious ceremony or procession and an abundance of joy and food. Today’s Loreto Day, our Feast Day, was not that dissimilar on both accounts! The Year 11 girls chose to support Zambian mothers and their newborn babies by providing baby milk powder to women who have diseases causing it to be unsafe to breastfeed their children and to provide young babies with essential nutrients to help with growth and development. In our beautiful Mass this morning, so ably led by Year 11, our readers reflected on the importance of the day. They said “today will be a day where as a community we come together to help others, and individually reflect on how our actions can change the lives of many…Each person within the Loreto community has been taught from their first moment here about the Mary Ward open circle, and today as a community we use this as a day where we come together to open our circle wider and help those who are in need of our help.” Very Reverend Fr David Ranson followed this with a reminder to us that we are called to love our neighbours, and challenged us with the realisation that ‘my neighbour is the person I cross the street to avoid’. How do we live to this call? This, I thought, is our call to reconciliation.
Every year there is a theme for National Reconciliation Week and this year’s theme is ‘Grounded in Truth, Let’s Walk Together in Courage’. While every day we try to carry a spirit of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, this week allows us to take visible action to symbolise our commitment and to bring the meaning of Reconciliation to front of mind.
We are now at the 52nd anniversary of the 1967 Referendum that took place on the 27th of May. This significant anniversary commemorates 52 years since the vote to end discrimination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian constitution. Over 90% of Australians voted to agree that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people be counted as citizens of this country and the people voted to remove racist parts of Australia’s constitution that allowed the government the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
This year is also the 27th anniversary of the 1992 Mabo Decision that took place on the 3rd of June. This significant step in Reconciliation saw Eddie Mabo, a proud Torres Strait man, challenge the Australian legal system to recognise the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of their land. The result of this case saw the high court pass down the fact that Terra Nullius (Land belonging to no one) should never have been applied to Australia. The day before National Reconciliation Week, May 26, is National Sorry Day. On this day we remember the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal peoples forcibly removed from their families over decades.
These significant historic dates, May 27 to June 3, mark our annual National Reconciliation Week.
The motif for this year’s National Reconciliation Week is a tree. During Tutor Groups this week, the students examined its symbolism more closely. More broadly, Reconciliation Australia describes “The Tree of Truth” as “what happens when the seeds of empathy, solidarity and love are sown. This is a representation of the community that we can grow into if we are able to acknowledge our history, learn from it and move forward together courageously.”
There is a brief clip on the Reconciliation Australia website with the following voice over, challenging us all deeply. “Let’s speak the truth, however painful, however confronting…In understanding each other’s stories, we all grow…Let’s all be brave, be bold and have honest conversations…”
I was particularly moved by that quote this week and struck by how relevant this is to every hurt we have ever endured or inflicted on any relationship in our lives.
We will continue to take good, firm steps towards actively participating in Reconciliation. It is our imperative. I hope that we can continue to learn and that the spirit of Reconciliation extends to all of our relationships. May we keep that front of mind every time we cross the road.
We look forward to welcoming Ms Ugonotti back next week.
Reconciliation begins in the immense love of God, who has continually reached out to reconcile the whole of creation with divine life.
That life and that love arouse responses within all of us towards the strengthening of relationships that are healthy and the healing and renewal of relationships that are broken.
We acknowledge the urgency for reconciliation between human creatures and the rest of creation, between humans and each other, and between humans and God.
Today we particularly seek God’s way as we pray for the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of this land, Australia, in all the diversity of cultures and localities.
We pray for a building of mutual hope, trust and faith in God and each other – and for a binding together in covenant relationship before God with the first peoples of this country,
based in mutual respect and care for the earth.
Ms Sophie Kearns