We have now entered the Season of Lent; a time for self-examination, a time for us to turn our gaze inward as we examine our thoughts, words and actions and allow ourselves through prayer, almsgiving and fasting, to be led into consolation and better prepared for the risen Lord when we are reborn with him this Easter. We are blessed at Loreto Normanhurst that we have so many senior students who can lead us in prayerful liturgies and so it was this Wednesday when some of our Eucharistic Ministers led the Ash Wednesday liturgy, calling on us all to open our eyes and hearts to the meaning of Lent and Easter to come. Each member of the community was marked with the ancient sign of sorrow and repentance, and the ashes that were placed in a cross on our forehead reminded us all throughout the day of our common humanity and our preparedness to seek forgiveness and to change.
You may have noted that this year our Women of Influence Evening is taking inspiration from the influence Loreto women have in regional and rural communities. While visiting country NSW last year with our Director of Boarding Mrs Kate Kovacs as part of the Principal’s Country Road Trip, she and I often reflected on the power and capacity of so many individuals to affect change in their communities. I warmly invite you to attend the evening which has been scheduled to coincide with International Women’s Day and to soak in the storytelling of the impact Loreto women are having within their communities.
Yesterday I met with Annabelle Kingston (Year 11, Barry), who is herself a young Woman of Influence. Annabelle is a boarder from the Riverina. She was telling me of her interest in business, her love of the land, and her desire to do something ‘little’ in response to the impact the drought was having on people across all corners of NSW. All of this led Annabelle to get very busy over the recent summer holidays, starting up her own not for profit venture “Fetch it for a Farmer.” Annabelle’s business sells caps and other merchandise and the income from sales is used to purchase grocery vouches from local towns where people are doing it tough. Annabelle then sends the vouchers to people in need, with an accompanying handwritten letter. Annabelle told me that it is important to her that the money stays in the towns which are in need. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that Annabelle’s social entrepreneurship and her commitment to ‘see the need and to do something about it’ are truly inspiring.
Creating opportunities to connect with our boarding families remains a priority for me this year. It is so important to visit the areas that are home for our country boarders, and it was wonderful to be embraced by the warm hospitality from the families I visited last year in my first year as Principal. The stories about the impact of the drought and the resilient ways in which communities were responding to the challenges posed became immediately more real when witnessed firsthand. In May, June and July this year I will be visiting the Dubbo, Wagga Wagga and Narrabri areas of NSW with Mrs Kovacs. I am looking forward to connecting with our boarding families at our upcoming Country Family Lunch events. Please see more information about these visits here.
Today I met with Year 10 students who will represent Normanhurst in the Mary Ward Connect experience for Loreto schools which coming up next week. Mary Ward Connect is a marvellous initiative introduced to Loreto schools Australia wide in 2009 when we celebrated 400 years of Loreto. It was great to spend time with the students today and to have been part of their planning this week as they created fun-filled videos of their time at school. We are so lucky to be part of a national and international network of schools and it will be an incredible experience for these young students to see how our sister schools in Australia operate. This year Loreto Normanhurst is connecting with Loreto Ballarat and Loreto Maryatville in South Australia. We will welcome and host students from these two schools next week.
This Lent, the theme of Project Compassion is “Go Further Together”. It is a theme which reminds us that we are all responsible for each other; the needs of those who are poor are our concern. During Lent we will all be reminded regularly to grow in appreciating this and to respond generously. At our Ash Wednesday Liturgy, our Liturgy Captain Sarah Scott reminded us that there are also other ways of fasting. I leave you with this for your own contemplation and reflection, and for discussion in your families.
Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
Fast from taking things for granted and be filled with gratitude.
Fast from anger and retaliation and be patient and forgiving.
Fast from negative attitudes and be filled with hope.
Fast from worries and trust that God is with you.
Fast from pressures and take time to pray.
Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate.
Fast from grudges and be reconciled – reach out and make peace with others, even if you are the one that has been hurt.
Fast from too many words and be silent and listen. Listen to the stirrings of your heart. Listen to your conscience. God speaks to us in many ways.
Ms Marina Ugonotti