Today, Friday 8 February, marks the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking. This day was chosen by Pope Francis because it is the feast day of St Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of Sudan and victims of slavery. Our commitment to abolish modern slavery is at the heart of our Mary Ward mission and we join the IBVM Network to Stop Human Trafficking and the Mary Ward Family to action this promise. Throughout this week and particularly today at Friday Morning Communion Service, we took steps to live out this commitment through prayer, awareness-raising and plans of action.
At the secondary school assembly this week I spoke to the girls about the need for us to inform ourselves about the extent to which companies whose goods and services we purchase source materials ethically and sustainably, pay and treat workers fairly, and do not use child labour. It would be naive to presume that just because something is ‘made in Australia’, no slavery or human trafficking has been involved. Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) has made available an ethical fashion guide, which is one source of information you can access to make informed consumer decisions. I do strongly encourage you to refer to it when making decisions about the products you buy so that as a consumer and a member of the global Loreto network, you can confidently say that you are acting to eliminate human trafficking and modern slavery.
This week’s assembly was also an opportunity for us to celebrate the pursuit of academic excellence as we acknowledged the achievements of those students who were recognised on the 2018 HSC All Rounders List, achieving 90 or above in 10 or more units. We also heard from the School Dux for 2018, Daniella Bianchi, who reassured younger students that there is most definitely life after the HSC exams. She gave them some practical and sage advice about keeping a balance in their lives and building relationships with teachers and peers and remaining committed to all aspects of school life, whether it be sport, House activities or community service.
We are extremely proud of the HSC results for the Class of 2018, knowing that the hard work and determination of each student is reflected in the full breadth and depth of results. What we also know, from our holistic approach to learning, is these results don’t define the girls of the Class of 2018. We came to know them as young women of compassion and joy – we watched them grow as individuals and in their relationships with one another. One lesson the Class of 2018 showed us is that you can keep your ‘eye on the prize’ but it doesn’t have to be at all costs; in fact, these pursuits were enhanced and strengthened because of the way in which they remained engaged with the whole FACE curriculum. They nurtured relationships with their teachers and one another, maintained their commitment to extra-curricular activities, led the student body with ‘big and little L’ leadership, and did not neglect their faith and spiritual formation. Congratulations once again to the Class of 2018.
Well done and thank you to our Boarder Captain Ella Anderson, Boarder Vice Captain Suzuki Yun and the Boarder Council for their outstanding leadership throughout the Boarder Commitment Weekend. The weekend was a wonderful celebration of friendship, old and new, and what it means to belong to this rich and vibrant boarder community within our greater Loreto Normanhurst community.
Week Two has seen the daily routine of school life settle for us all with chatter around lockers, dancing in the Quad at long recess, and the dash for a refreshing ice block to counter the February heat. Next week we will know that we are most definitely in Term One as choir rehearsals commence for Music Festival. Term One is always so joyfully accented by the tunes and notes of choir rehearsals at lunchtimes which culminates in the wonderful performances of the Music Festival on the last day of term. There will be more details about the Music Festival and ticketing information in the upcoming weeks.
Our Years 5 and 7 girls have settled well into their new school and/or high school respectively; they have stepped firmly into this next phase of their life with openness and hope. I was thrilled to be able to spend some time with Year 7 this week on Traditioning Day where we explored the heritage, history and traditions of our school and again at Year 7 Camp where we spent a session together understanding the life, motivations and legacy of Mary Ward. I was particularly touched by the thoughtfulness of their questions and the depth of their reflection on this ordinary woman who went on to do quite extraordinary things. I look forward to having time next week to be with our new students in Years 8 to 11 as together we learn about some of the traditions and nuances of being a ‘Normo’ girl.
Congratulations to our Year 10 Drama students on their dedication, courage and great openness throughout this week as they took part in the Bell Shakespeare Artist in Residence program which will culminate in their performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the school gardens outside the Teresa Ball Primary Centre this evening – what a perfect setting for this play! You may wish to bring a picnic blanket if you are coming along. If the predicted storms do eventuate, the performance will be moved to the Primary School Learning Common.
Best wishes to all girls representing Loreto Normanhurst this weekend as sport gets underway for the year. Sport and movement are a wonderful way for us to express one of the many dimensions of who we are. By engaging our physical selves, sport also allows us to build connections with others, enhance skills of leadership and communication and grow in grit and resilience within ourselves. A Loreto sports girl is strong and brave while also being gentle and loving; and she is competitive, but not at the neglect of goodness and kindness. I know that our girls will engage in their sporting endeavours this year with a positive attitude, playing by the rules, enjoying the challenges that await and spreading the Normo spirit with all they meet.
In solidarity with all who suffer as victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, I leave you with this prayer.
We come to you today with open hearts to your word and your loving presence, to pray for the victims of human trafficking and those who are trapped by forced labour and sexual exploitation.
There are 40.3 million people around the world who are victims of modern slavery – these people we hold in our hearts and pray for today.
Lord, we pray you bring your warmth and love to these victims who are suffering through distressing realities. May they find strength in you.
Ignite in us the spirit of action, so that we as a global community can rise to be the light of hope for these people and work together to further strive towards justice in your world.
We pray this through Christ our Lord,
Ms Marina Ugonotti