Care for Creation
The campaign of this year’s World Environment Day (5 June), #OnlyOneEarth, highlighted the need to reset the balance with nature through transformative changes in how we eat, live, work and move around. This idea is inextricably linked to the Loreto commitment to ecological conversion.
In 2014, the IBVM articulated Five Calls, including the call ‘to live sustainably, discerning what is enough’ (2014 IBVM General Congregation, Call #4). A year later, Pope Francis focused on integral ecology in his ground-breaking encyclical Laudato Sí. Most recently, in 2020, Sr Noelle Corscadden ibvm, Generalate Institute Leader, wrote to all IBVM provinces inviting “each province to undertake an environmental project, something significant that will witness to our care of creation” as part of the celebrations of the Bicentenary of the Irish branch of the Institute. A clear consciousness of and commitment to living sustainably and actively caring for our common home so that we truly live as stewards of creation is imperative for Loreto communities.
Throughout this Bicentenary year, Loreto communities across Australia have participated in a tree planting project. This project complements the many sustainability initiatives our schools have implemented in recent years, including introducing Student Environment Captains and Staff Sustainability Coordinators; recycling initiatives such as the `Bottle for Beach” collection project and increasing accessibility of second-hand uniforms and books; a bush tucker garden; the installation of solar panels, rainwater tanks and energy efficient LED lighting; art projects that have decorated bins to increase awareness of how and what to recycle, as well as being attentive to appropriately disposing of waste; and including renewable energy studies in curriculum.
School Planting Initiatives
John XXIII College
Seedlings grown by the Sustainability Club and science classes in conjunction with Trillion Trees Australia were planted during two events. The first event was part of a professional learning for staff that examined the Bishops’ Social Justice Statement’ ‘Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor’, which affirms that; ‘we human beings need a change of heart, mind, and behaviour’. The learning concluded with staff participating in tree planting on the west end of the campus. In May, College families and students gathered to plant additional trees across the College campus. The aim of the planting was to help offset carbon emissions from the College and provide food and habitat for native bird species focusing on the endangered Carnaby Black Cockatoo.
Loreto Nedlands has planted a number of bush tucker plants, herbs and vegetables on the school grounds. The planting initiative encourages students to learn about native Australian species and their importance to our First Nations Peoples while fostering biodiversity, promoting sustainability, and nurturing care for creation. The planting initiative will continue throughout the year.
Loreto College Marryatville
Several plantings have occurred in the past year; however, the College’s main project is scheduled for this winter. The project is focused mainly on the banks of First Creek, which runs through the grounds and will see 75 trees planted across six areas of the College. Varieties include a mix of Australian natives, ornamental flowering trees, and tough shady trees.
Loreto College Coorparoo
To contribute to the Bicentenary Jubilee Ecology project, Loreto Coorparoo began a Reconciliation Garden that involved the planting of local bush tucker plants. This was done at the end of National Reconciliation Week just before World Environment Day by College Principal, Kim Wickham, the College Captains, the Mission Council Leader and one of the College’s Indigenous students. The garden is the first step in a new Reconciliation Action Plan and will surround the Chapel of the Holy Trinity.
Loreto Kirribilli has planted several trees throughout the grounds and established a green wall in the main building. The planting of an on-site vegetable garden provides fresh produce for Canteen use, and further rooftop planting assists with cooling.
Loreto College Ballarat
Students from Loreto Ballarat teamed up with students from St Patrick’s College in May to plant 350 trees, native grasses and shrubs on-site at Ballarat’s Victoria Park. The planting was an initiative of both schools, 15 Trees and local Ballarat food security education advocates, Food Is Free Inc, with funding from the City of Ballarat’s Community Impact grant.
Loreto Toorak is planning a ceremony on 12 August 2022 to name a new courtyard in the school that will feature three significant trees honouring Teresa Ball. The new courtyard is a gathering space for Year 7/8/9 students. The ceremony will mark the date on which the young Teresa Ball arrived in Dublin, and the end of the Irish bicentenary year. The primary school at Loreto Toorak for students from Prep to Year 6 is called Rathfarnham in honour of Teresa Ball’s first school. These students will be part of this ceremony, along with younger secondary students, to reflect on Teresa Ball’s foundational work. The ceremony will further set the context for students to grow from their newly planted beginnings and then ‘set the world on fire with the love of God’. As part of the school’s Feast Day in September and to mark the commissioning of new Principal, Angela O’Dwyer, a tree/plant will be given to all school students and a commitment made to planting trees offsite, establishing new roots that will continue to grow.
Loreto Normanhurst celebrated the Bicentenary Jubilee with the planting of a flowering gum outside the Teresa Ball Primary Centre. The school has pledged to plant 200 trees as a community. In support of the Bicentenary Jubilee Ecology Project, primary students were gifted with small plants as a commitment to transforming our world.
Loreto schools are committed to ensuring that our future leaders understand their responsibility to be agents of change and champion a sustainable tomorrow. In accordance with our Loreto commitment to changing the way we have thought about our use of natural resources, our schools aim to promote values, skills and behaviours needed for living as global citizens in harmony with all of creation.
This call to embrace the practice of ecological justice is a central focus of the Loreto Justice Network (LJN). If you’d like to learn more or find ways that you can act to care for our common home, I encourage you to engage with the LJN’s Ecological Justice Action Centre.
Author: Carolyn Young, Director of Mission & Identity, Loreto Ministries
God of Life and Peace,
as never before in history,
our common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning.
Let ours be a time of
awakening of a new reverence for life,
the firm resolve to achieve sustainability,
the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and
the joyful celebration of life.
(Based on The Earth Charter and Pope Francis’, “On Care for Our Common Home,” Laudato Si’, paragraph 207)