In the week of Loreto Day, I was invited by the Australian Catholic University (ACU) as Principal to take part in a roundtable discussion in Rome that focused on the model of sustainable governance required for Catholic organisations to respond to the uniquely complex challenges of our times. As a group, we spent some time of immersion in Assisi focusing on the life and spirituality of St Francis from whom Pope Francis takes a lot of inspiration. St Francis has gifted our Tradition such richness of thought and an abundant source of spiritual nourishment. He reminds us of the fragile balance of our world and our earth, and our responsibility as stewards to care for our common home and those who are its margins.
During the days in Rome I spoke with colleagues about who we are as a Catholic school and what we do to ensure that we always have our arms and our eyes at the margins of those who are suffering, listening to the call of the Gospel and responding with compassionate action. We were also very lucky to have the opportunity to meet Pope Francis following his general audience at St Peter’s. I took the photos you can see below in the gallery as he was making his way to us – photos that I think encapsulate that sense of reaching out to those who sometimes we can easily forget, with a beautiful touch on the cheek or the head to give comfort without any pretence. The simplest of acts that can bridge the distance which those on the margins of society can often feel. An act which says, ‘I respect your dignity and I respect your place as part of this very beautiful and fragile common home of ours.’
I hope all our families enjoyed a lovely long weekend and our boarders enjoyed their time at home. Whilst the girls were relaxing with family before the official long weekend began, staff were involved in a Professional Learning Day on Thursday and a Staff Retreat Day on Friday. A Loreto education is focused on developing the whole person and this applies to our staff as well as our students; we are all Loreto people. During our staff day we engaged in many learning modules exploring ways to improve and grow our daily practice. It was a very productive and enjoyable day. On Friday, we turned our focus to our spiritual selves. The program of the day provided opportunities for personal and professional growth through the lens of the day’s theme ‘Strengthening our own spiritual backyard.’ It was a wonderful day of experiencing and developing our awareness of the stories, places and people who are important to who we are as a Loreto school. We used one of the tools of our Christian tradition – that of pilgrimage – to make meaning, deepen faith and attend as we walked these grounds, stopping for the nourishment provided by the stories and place.
We continued to focus on our staff at the Celebration of Service this Wednesday evening. This is an evening where we acknowledge key milestones for staff in their professional life at Loreto Normanhurst and thank them for their generous and loving service to our School. A number of staff were acknowledged and recognised on the night. I’d like to particularly congratulate and thank Mrs Chris Woods, Dean of Extra-curricular, who next month celebrates an amazing 30 years of service to Loreto Normanhurst. Mrs Woods was acknowledged for the generous way in which she has shared her gifts with our community and held true to Mary Ward’s final words to her companions of wishing that their vocation be “constant, efficacious and loving.”
Congratulations to all students who competed at the Secondary Athletics Carnival on Tuesday. We were so blessed with the beautiful sunshine at Homebush and I congratulate all participants for taking to the track and field in wonderful spirit. Due to the large number of entrants on the day, we were unable to hold all the events and therefore the winners have not been finalised. This will happen in the next few weeks.
This morning we shared a beautiful Normanhurst Kirribilli Morning Tea, hosted by Normanhurst this year, where we listened to Ms Frances Rush OAM, Chief Executive Officer of the Asylum Seekers Centre. Ms Rush has over 30 years’ experience as a social worker in both the government and community sectors and has a wealth of experience in advocacy and policy development and was an inspiration to listen to. Her reflection was very timely as we prepare to mark Refugee Week next week. Ms Rush reflected with those gathered of the influence her Loreto education had on her as the years have unfolded, particularly as she has sought to seek truth and do justice. To celebrate Refugee Week next week, The Asylum Seekers Centre and the City of Sydney are hosting a special celebration next Thursday 20 June featuring Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General, Amnesty International. If you would like to attend this event, please click here.
I am very much looking forward to stage two of the Principal’s Country Road Trip to Bourke and Dubbo next Friday and Saturday to engage with our boarder families as well as past families, ex-students and prospective families who are interested in a Loreto education for their daughters. Thank you to the Ex-Students’ Association who are hosting a lunch event in Dubbo on Saturday 22 June.
Congratulations to Juliet Lahood, Year 11, who competed in the -46kg Open female division at the selection event for the Pacific Games and Oceania Taekwondo Championships over the weekend and won! This means Juliet will represent Australia at these events in Samoa. Juliet also had to have a meeting with the Australian Olympic Committee which was very exciting for her. Well done and good luck to you, Juliet.
I hope many of you are coming to the PAL Trivia Night next Saturday 22 June. It will be a great night and I’m sure there will be many wonderful costumes under the ‘Go Green’ theme. This is a great way to get together in relaxed circumstances and stretch our brains around the trivia. Thank you to the PAL Executive for organising the event.
Inspired by World Environment Day and World Oceans Day, both marked last week, and my recent time in Assisi and Rome, I offer to you this beautiful prayer for our Earth by Pope Francis.
A Prayer for the Earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
Ms Marina Ugonotti