Staff Formation and Retreat Day
Last Friday all Loreto Normanhurst staff were blessed and privileged to enjoy our annual Staff Formation and Retreat Day. As part of the Loreto Normanhurst community each member of staff, whether in teaching or other sectors, is called to engage with the Faith life of our Catholic, Ignatian/Loreto tradition. We are all on that journey into deeper understanding and appreciation of what is asked of us as we each play our part in the unfolding Loreto mission. So this day each year is essential to who we are and how we are. As a retreat day it is a time to step away from our usual work and to be renewed and inspired through reflection, listening, companionship, conversation and prayer. At the heart of this process is that foundational Ignatian teaching which so inspired and guided Mary Ward and which continues to guide us today, of seeking always and everywhere to see and find God in all things.
To do that this year we headed outdoors! And after the wild weather of the preceding week we were indeed blessed with a glorious day of sunshine, blue sky and gentleness. Several bushwalks in magnificent locations around Sydney were organised and small groups were formed. There in the wonder of creation we all found a perfect place and opportunity to reflect on one of the three Pathways of Loreto Normanhurst’s Strategic Plan for 2016 – 2020: Pathway 3, An Ecology-centred school. The day’s focus was also a response to one of the five ‘Calls’ of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Call 4: ‘To live sustainably discerning what is enough’. And to guide us along this path we had that marvellous document – Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical, Laudato Si’, On Care For Our Common Home. As we stilled ourselves and prayerfully opened our senses, minds and hearts to the presence of God around us and within everything, we reflected on the damage human activity has caused to this glorious home and our place as we moved forward into a truly ecology-centred way of life. Pope Francis reminds us that as the natural environment deteriorates so does the human environment as we are integrally linked and are all affected, most particularly the poorest people on our planet. Concern for the environment is indeed an issue of justice.
It was a very powerful and moving experience to ponder these things and to listen to each other and articulate our own responses as we sat amongst the ancient rocks and trees and walked the age-old pilgrim path into a truly sacred place – and for us today, that sacred place is our own ecological conversion and our responsibility and action as we care for our environment and for each other.
Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning. We are able to take an honest look at ourselves, to acknowledge our deep dissatisfaction, and to embark on new paths to authentic freedom
Ms. Kerry McCullough
Dean of Mission