Our Compass Points the way to ‘Thinking and Acting Justly’
Students in Loreto Schools across Australia are energetic, passionate and dedicated to making a difference in the world; indeed, a commitment to justice is found in the very DNA of our educational approach. The Mary Ward Schools’ Compass (left) links our Australian schools to those of our global family. It includes two key foci relating to justice education; the South points us to the importance of ‘thinking and acting justly’ whilst the North-West directs us to ‘being an agent of change.’ Using the Compass to explore these two distinct yet clearly linked paths underpins the formation of our students as young people who are well informed, critical, curious and compassionate. Their voices are then expressed in a variety of ways; as skilled debaters, as advocates on issues of politics and policy, as caring volunteers, as enthusiastic fundraisers and as young people who seek truth and do justice.
In a true demonstration of ‘thinking and acting justly’, our schools raise significant funds for different MWIA projects every year. This year, the total raised to date is over $100,000 – an extraordinary effort in another year impacted by significant COVID-19 related lockdowns and long periods of remote learning in many of our schools. On Feast Days, Mission Days and Loreto Days, which are joyful celebrations of community, the tradition of student-led action for MWIA as a key focus has continued this year. Loreto student leaders in both Year 11 and 12 take seriously the responsibility of developing activities to practically support the work of MWIA and raise awareness and understanding of their work in all students.
Loreto Normanhurst supported the work of Sr Ephigenia Gachiri ibvm in Kenya through their Loreto Day celebrations. Sr Ephigenia is a leading proponent against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kenya. In partnership with MWIA, she has made a significant impact toward its eradication through educating local communities. Year 11 students educated the school community about issues associated with FGM with skill and sensitivity, inviting Dr Ngatho Mugo, a Sydney Community Education Officer, to speak as part of Loreto Day alongside their House stalls, giant raffle and the traditional school concert.
At Loreto Kirribilli May Day, in a wonderful celebration of felicity, the school community came together to raise funds for MWIA, demonstrating their ongoing support for the Loreto Sisters’ work in Timor-Leste. The day commenced with a beautiful liturgy in honour of Mary Ward, as per tradition, and continued with fundraising activities and an entertaining student-led concert. Loreto College Coorparoo held its Mission Day to support the work of MWIA in India. The grounds of Coorparoo were filled with the sound of music from a range of choirs and jazz groups and the heady smells of delicious student-run food stalls. Along with various fun activities coordinated by student leaders, a wonderful day of community was enjoyed in sunny Brisbane.
At Loreto College Marryatville, Mission Day ended Term 3 this year. Under the topical theme of ‘Felicity Fairytale’, the Marryatville community celebrated a day of colour, fun and entertainment. Mission Day focused on the work of Loreto Rumbek in South Sudan, particularly the Primary Health Care Centre and its Healthy Foundations program for children under five. Loreto College Ballarat also generously supported Loreto Rumbek earlier in the year with their annual Walkathon. This year’s dress-up theme, ‘Be the Iconic’, saw creative and clever costumes worn by Loreto girls on their long walk through the streets of Ballarat. Loreto College Ballarat continues to support the Sisters in Timor-Leste by selling face masks made in Timor by local women who have partnered with Loreto. Children and students in Ballarat wear these masks with pride to help protect their community and support their friends in Timor-Leste.
John XXIII College (JTC) in Perth celebrated its JTC Day in August. Each year the JTC community directs a generous donation to MWIA to celebrate their connection with the Mary Ward family. Loreto Toorak has rescheduled their planned Feast Day to later in the year and is committed to supporting the Landing Pad project administered by the Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre in India. School captains recently launched the project at an online school assembly, encouraging these young Loreto women to show real solidarity with the women and girls of Kolkata, for whom this project will make a practical difference to their education and daily lives. Finally, our wonderful primary students at Loreto Nedlands celebrated their Mission Day on the last day of Term 3, raising funds with felicity, in a continuation of their enthusiastic support for the Brickfield Schools project in India.
Author: Michelle McCarty