What a celebration we have had this week to commence our 120 year celebration. Tuesday 28 February 2017 marks 120 years from the laying of the Foundation stone in 1897 when Loreto Normanhurst was opened as a country Boarding School for girls. It is amazing to think that Normanhurst was considered the country in those early years of Sydney’s growth. As you know, when Mother Gonzaga Barry came to the land the year before in 1896, and set foot on the site a rainbow appeared and she said “this is where I will build my school”. How lucky are we that she did so. This last Tuesday we felt Gonzaga Barry’s presence as there were rainbows in the sky above us again 120 years later. I must say the symbolism was not lost on us all.
It was an amazing privilege to have so many IBVM Loreto sisters and special guests to our whole school Eucharist and celebration and I was so very moved by the students singing, dancing and reverence. These occasions are very important in the history of the school and it is indeed special for us to share them together. Please find here my speech for this most special event. The 120 year events continue throughout the year and we look forward to sharing this fantastic birthday with all members of the Loreto Normanhurst family.
This week we commenced the Lenten season with a beautifully simple liturgy led by Marissa Hussein, Liturgy Captain and Ms Kerry McCullough Liturgy and Spirituality Coordinator. During the Liturgy we were challenged to examine our consciences, to pray, to forgive, to love others, to turn away from sin and allow the grace of God to grow stronger in us. This, of course, takes conscious effort from us all. As a school we will focus on this as we progress through Lent towards Easter where we will be reborn again. Lent is a time of commitment from us all and I know our Social Justice Captains are urging all students to support Project Compassion this Lent by remembering to donate a small amount each day.
As part of the commencement of Lent and because we are an Ecology Centred School, this week the senior school watched “Before the Flood” a movie that challenges our thinking about how we look after our planet. I highly recommend the film and I hope that your daughter has had a chance to fill you in on her reaction to the film. Points that set me thinking were about examining my climate impact and what I can do at home and at Loreto to make decisions that reduce my and our carbon footprint. We continue to work hard in this area at the school providing water tanks, solar panels, LED lighting and many other initiatives. As we prepare the Master Plan for the next 30 years we are working to have a totally ecologically sensitive school which is the necessary commitment from the school. If you have not yet read Pope Francis’ Encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ I recommend it to you. It truly awakens our spirit and our resolve to care for our world and those within it in a loving and sensitive way.
Year 12 have been away at their Retreat this week and we pray for them at this special time of reflection and prayer. I commend Year 12 for the way they are leading the school and for their hard work in their studies. The HSC is a marathon as we know, and they are doing well. Please continue to keep them, their parents and their teachers in your prayers.
It was great to be able to report back to parents comprehensively during the week on the Sports Review from 2016. It was a well-attended night and I thank parents for taking the time to attend. We will be steadily working through the recommendations this year and have appointed a Sports Parent Task Force to work with the school in this area. Loreto Normanhurst is one of the highest participating schools in all sports and we know how much joy our students gain from playing competitive sport, so together we will work to improve our offerings this year and in the years to come.
Congratulations to Elizabeth Chippendale (Year 11) who won gold in the Under 18 400 meters when she competed in the ACT Athletics Championships recently.
I look forward to seeing all parents at the 120 years Cocktail Party and Information Night this evening. It should be a wonderful event.
“Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home. Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.”
Pope Francis, 1 November 2016
With prayers of peace and hope,
Ms Barbara Watkins