I find myself still trying to let my spirit catch up with my body as I reflect on the joyful and beautiful celebration of the Eucharist last Friday. During this celebration I was anointed and commissioned as Principal of Loreto Normanhurst and I made my pledge of commitment to the community, committing myself to the educational vision of Loreto Normanhurst. This vision is centred in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and in the tradition and values of Mary Ward and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I am humbled to have had it entrusted to me on Friday. I am grateful for all the blessings of people and time that steered my path to land at these gates, a place where I have found a strong spiritual, intellectual and philosophical sense of home.
It was very special for me to have had students, staff, my family and other guests witness the commitment I have made in leading our precious school. I am very grateful to all those who shared their ministry, gifts and talent with us in the Celebration of the Eucharist. In particular, I’d like to thank and acknowledge Ms Kerry McCullough whose genius and vision so tenderly wove words, prayer, imagery and song, allowing us to transcend space and time.
I give thanks for the the beautiful and loving way in which the girls participated in the Mass. I felt the love of our whole community on that day and from conversations I have had with girls since, I know that they did too. I hope that the girls treasure the pearl pin which they received on Friday. The ‘pearl’ is an essential part of Loreto’s rich and dynamic history and represents Mother Gonzaga Barry’s belief in a solid and well-rounded education for girls. In a letter to them, Mother Gonzaga Barry described her Loreto children as a ‘row of goodly pearls’. As each girl wears her pearl pin I hope it brings them fond memories of the evidence of the love that was felt on Friday, and importantly, that they remember that the pearl symbolises each one of them – goodly and beautiful, formed out of grit, in and from creation. When strung alongside all the other pearls of our school they come to create something even more beautiful: held together strongly and securely by the love of this community.
I have just now returned from the Chapel where we had the Primary School Leadership Liturgy, commissioning and anointing of our Year 6 students as leaders of the Loreto Normanhurst Primary School. I was moved to be anointing and commissioning them so shortly after my own commissioning last week. What wonderful joy it was to have them come forth individually and see God’s image reflected in the diversity of faces before me, for me to then hold their hands, anoint them and pray for God’s blessing and strength as they carry out their role of leadership. I venture forth into my own vocation of leadership buoyed by the hope central to the vibrancy of youth, the spirit of Mary Ward, and the call of the Gospel.
This Wednesday was the UN World Day of Social Justice. We know at Loreto Normanhurst we strive to do our piece in ensuring a peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among all people. We also know that there are many people who live in fragile and conflict-affected situations, and that these are often young people. At the heart of our mission is the obligation to develop students who are connected globally to each other and the communities in which they serve, and to be strongly committed to principles of fairness, equity and human rights. The question of “who is my neighbour?” is one which many have tried to answer over the years – from philosophers to jurists to theologians alike. In this morning’s Communion Service, the girls who led us highlighted the simple yet sometimes seemingly radical response that Jesus teaches us as they proclaimed the Gospel through the parable of the Good Samaritan. In their reflection on this parable the girls reminded us that Jesus answers this question for us by teaching us that the commandment of love is to extend even to those we may not know or love. That in fact, God’s love has no bounds. The beautiful message of unconditional love, of stranger and of enemy, ends with the Gospel imperative to ‘go and do the same.’ And so, we take this as our frame when we engage with our world in the everyday in local and global issues. That we must go to the outcast, to the downtrodden, to the forgotten and yes, even to the enemy, to extend love and compassion.
Here at Loreto Normanhurst we have an emphasis on building a strong culture of parent-school engagement to contribute to the girls’ holistic learning and growth. This partnership was evident on Monday evening when Dr Tom Nehmy spoke to parents about how their daughters can thrive when facing challenges and change. I thank the many parents who attended this workshop on Monday evening.
Last year, the school informed parents that we were in the planning phase of upgrading the Loreto Normanhurst App to enhance the networks and avenues for communication between the school and parents. After scope and testing we have decided to instead commit to implementing a customised Student Information System (SIS) to replace our existing system and to better integrate and manage our processes. We look forward to communicating how this new system will enhance and further improve parent engagement throughout the year.
I hope to see many of you at the Parent Cocktail Party this evening. These events are a wonderful way to reconnect with friends across different year groups as well as welcoming new parents to our community and I look forward to enjoying our great community spirit tonight.
Best wishes to all girls venturing out for sport this weekend. I hope the weather holds off, so you can enjoy your weekend of sport.
I leave you with this beautiful prayer and blessing, written by Mrs Divya Stanger – Head of Aston House.
Lord Jesus, we ask for your help as we navigate through Term 1.
Give us a generous spirit to be enthusiastic with our work and have courage to accept new opportunities.
Make our classrooms oases in the busy world. Make them places of warmth and trust.
May our relationships with our students enable them to know that their opinion counts. Free them to stretch themselves as they seek holistic growth in a safe, nurturing, and caring environment.
Bless us this year, so that we may all experience rich friendships, authentic success, and purpose in all we do.
May those in our school be “pearls” to us, valued for the unique beauty they bring to our communities.
Ms Marina Ugonotti