It is great to be back at my desk after my sabbatical leave and to once again be part of the hustle, bustle and happiness of our school. The weeks of leave were a blessed experience of catching up with my precious family both here and overseas, spending time in retreat and also learning. I am so appreciative of the School Board who encouraged me to take the opportunity of some sabbatical time this year and to Ms Ugonotti who did an outstanding job as Acting Principal in my absence. She was so ably supported by Mrs Kieryn Bateman as Acting Deputy Principal. Thanks also to Ms Martin and Ms Thomsett for stepping into their roles of acting leadership during this time. It is marvellous to see the depth of leadership in the staff at Loreto and the generosity of these members of staff to step into these roles to support and lead the school.
Taking time to reflect and recharge, and to cherish and celebrate our relationships is so paramount in a world full of angst and confusion. These relationships centre us and provide us with love and sustenance. Whilst on leave I had the joy of spending some time each day with my brand new baby grandson. What a wonder new life is! Together he and his mother and father traverse life, learning and changing together. What is most fascinating is watching him learn new things so swiftly, how to smile, how to roll; how open he is to the journey, quite literally a pure canvas of love and goodness for his loving parents to paint the colour of life onto, with him. What a responsibility it is to help him understand the wonder of life, hear hope filled stories, to challenge him – now it is in action, to reach for that ball, in years to come it will be to challenge his thinking. In our time alone together, I whispered to him of the world he lives in, and of hope, of how you find good people to be with and so much more, not that he understands much now but when he begins to do so hopefully his mindset will be an optimistic one.
The juxtaposition of time with him bathed in love and the happenings around the world tainted by fear made me think of our community at Loreto and the importance of shaping our women to be people who have a strong positive world view. Growing women who have a strong and clear voice and stand up for what is good, based on deeply discerned values, is of ever increasing importance. That it is equally important for them to be women who stand out and are brave when tested, not to buckle to popular opinion or merely follow the crowd. In a world where the pressure on our young women is to be the exact opposite we must remain strong and single minded in raising women who know who they are, have a strong voice and use it to take a risk for others. We cannot shy away from this; it is what we stand for as a Loreto school – that our young women will be independent, articulate and compassionate women of integrity, just as our Mission Statement articulates. In today’s prayer service led by Year 11 these same powerful words were spoken about unabashedly standing up for mercy, peace and love in the world. Ideals that we grow here at Loreto Normanhurst and that our world badly needs. As we examine the life of St Mary of the Cross, our own Saint, Mary Mackillop said, “Never see a need without doing something about it”, we recognise how challenging that is for us all, but of course this is what we are charged to do.
It has been great to see the students along the halls this week and to see Year 12 immersed in their final Trial examinations. They have been very happy and taking the Trial experience in their stride which is to be commended. These Trial examinations will expose what they do not know and help them hone in on any gaps in their learning so far. It is still a way off until the final HSC examinations and they are well on their way to completing this part of their learning journey very well. Please continue to keep Year 12 and their parents in your daily prayers.
Thank you to Aboriginal elder Uncle Gavi who celebrated NAIDOC Week with us, sharing many stories and conducting a smoking ceremony, giving us a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture.
Tonight we welcome back Year 9 from Far North Queensland and by all accounts the experience has been wonderful for them and the 23 staff who have accompanied them. It will be fantastic to hear the stories of their journey together ‘walking beside and caring for country’.
Ever generous God,
You inspired Saint Mary MacKillop
To live her life faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ
and constant in bringing hope and encouragement
to those who were disheartened, lonely or needy.
With confidence in your generous providence
and through the intercession of Saint Mary MacKillop
We ask that you grant our request……………….
We ask that our faith and hope be fired afresh by the Holy Spirit
so that we too, like Mary MacKillop, may live with courage, trust and openness.
Ever generous God hear our prayer.
We ask this through Jesus Christ.
With prayers of peace and hope,
Ms Barbara Watkins