As 2020 draws to a close, I look back with a profound sense of pride. Every adaptation, every implementation, every spontaneous action required to ensure the safety of our students and staff, every step taken to ensure our commitment to quality education, has been carried out with professionalism, sensitivity, and poise; these are the hallmarks of our work in this unbelievable year, throughout which the spirit of Mary Ward has prevailed.Our school boards, principals and staff have demonstrated that they are so much more than the backbone of our school communities, dedicating countless hours and giving fully of themselves to guiding schools through an incredibly tumultuous year with heartfelt sincerity and verity.
I also reflect on our Loreto Ministries staff, who have battled through an extended lockdown with resilience, determination, and unwavering support for one another. They adjusted to working from home with agility and grace, and their ability to adapt has been fundamental to business continuity. I recognise that many have faced personal and professional challenges throughout this period; however, I have been comforted by the care and consideration that all across our network have bestowed upon each other. It is wonderful to welcome our colleagues and friends in Victoria as they return from lockdown. They have held a special place in our hearts and spirits as they courageously met the challenges of COVID-19.
The recent re-appointment of Province Leader, Sr Wendy Hildebrand, and the Province Council is significant news and is testament to their dedicated leadership throughout 2020. We congratulate Wendy and the Council and look forward to our continued work together. Our work relies so much on the depth, commitment and passion of all our people. This applies also to all those Board Directors who have been elected or re-elected over the latter part of the year. I welcome them in the solid anticipation that they will bring vitality and passion with their appointments. We are strengthened through the addition of such diversity and new ideas.
I congratulate the graduating Year 12 class of 2020 in each of our schools on the successful completion of their exams in circumstances unlike any other. I appreciate the challenges they faced and overcame with strength and sense. Their lives will be lastingly formed by the events of 2020 and with God’s grace and blessings they will go on to become a special leadership force in our society.
I further thank all schools for their support of Loreto Vietnam across the year. Our commitment to the work of Loreto Vietnam and their focus on ensuring access to inclusive and equitable education for children in the most disadvantaged communities, remains steadfast and whole-hearted. Despite several of our schools being unable to travel with students to witness first-hand the work of the Loreto Vietnam team in 2020 as they had planned, we acknowledge the funds that have been raised, the solidarity offered and the connection that endures with our colleagues and friends in Vietnam across our whole network. The relaunched Loreto Vietnam website provides us with the opportunity to keep in touch with their work and be part of their plans for 2021.
Our last newsletter for the year brims with positivity. Our Directors of Mission, whose roles are heavily reliant on the ‘in-person’ experience and formation, share how they have embraced the COVID experience through shared dialogue and deepened conversations; Margaret Kennedy reflects on 2020 through the lens of a newly appointed Board Chair; Loreto Vietnam Executive Officer, Dung Nguyen, shares the impact of “Education for Change” across Vietnam; and we feature the recent LSAC Student Leadership Conference, run in collaboration with Loreto Ministries staff. We further highlight our response to the challenges in the contemporary educational landscape and our commitment to ‘engage with the bigger picture’ via support and leadership in the areas of mission, communications, policy development, finance, and governance.
We are confident that the adversity of this year has prepared us for the extraordinary in 2021, and we anticipate with hope all that the new year will offer, particularly the celebrations of Teresa Ball, and our 200 year old foundation in Ireland. Before then, all of us across the Loreto Network in Australia are more than deserving of a restful and rejuvenating break, and we welcome the face to face interaction with our loved ones that many of us have been missing for so long.
We pray for all those who won’t have a Christmas this year, those without loved ones to share this time of giving, those who will go hungry, cold, or sick, those who are suffering abuse, financial turmoil, or mental illness. May our hearts expand, and our love radiate, for we are models of Mary Ward, and this is our mission.
“With real strength and courage, do what is seen to be good in all circumstances in which we are placed.”
– Mary Ward –
With Warm Regards,
CEO, Loreto Ministries