As another COVID-19 year passes, I reflect on the many significant moments, contributions, and challenges presented throughout 2021. This year has given us many opportunities, not only to continue to learn, adapt and develop in the face of lockdowns, remote learning, border closures and more, but also to recognise and give thanks for the gifts of connection and community that have continued to be felt across our network. We are indeed grateful for these and know that our strong foundation, our common mission, and our shared faith holds us in good stead and takes us forward into the new year ahead.
Thank you for all that you do and for your continued support of Loreto Ministries. Our Principals, leadership teams, teachers, school staff, Chairs of Boards, Directors of Boards, parents, students, families and friends each pay a central and deeply valued part in our work on behalf of the Loreto Sisters.
At the conclusion of this year, Dr Susan Stevens will conclude her almost twenty-year term as Principal of Loreto Mandeville Hall Toorak. Starting in 1998 as Deputy Principal – Pastoral Care, she was appointed Principal in June 2002 and has carried out this role with exemplary dedication, a commitment to excellence, unceasing drive and a sense of true felicity every day since. We thank Susan with great sincerity for all she has contributed to the broader Loreto story during her time of distinguished leadership; her vocation has truly been “constant, efficacious and loving”. We wish her every blessing in the next chapter.
Ms Angela O’Dwyer will begin her term as Principal in 2022. Angela is currently Executive Deputy Principal at Loreto Toorak. Since joining in 2017, she has contributed significantly to the progression of student development across the academic, pastoral, co-curricular and spiritual programs at Loreto Toorak. Previously, Angela gained exceptional experience as Deputy Head of Senior School at Methodist Ladies College and as Dean of Newman College at the University of Melbourne. Angela is already well known to many across our Loreto community in Melbourne and we look forward to her leadership with great joy.
Loreto Ministries welcomes Ms Carolyn Young into the role of Director of Mission and Identity, commencing January 2022. Carolyn has served in Catholic education for over 24 years, 15 of which have been in senior leadership positions. Formation in the Catholic tradition through the lens of a particular charism is a key characteristic of her approach to leadership. She is looking forward to working with our Loreto communities to discern what the Loreto mission asks of us today.
We farewell past student of Loreto College Ballarat and Director of Mission at Loreto Toorak, Ms Michelle McCarty, who was seconded to Loreto Ministries throughout 2020 and 2021. Michelle’s commitment to the Gospel and stewarding the Loreto mission is grounded in a deep faith, passionate commitment to social justice and strong belief in the capacity of young people, especially women, to assume leadership roles in our schools, church and wider world. Her contribution to the development of sequential formation programs for boards, committees, office staff and other members of the Loreto network whilst at Loreto Ministries has been significant.
After 25 years of support from the Loreto Province of Australia and South East Asia and the generous commitment of donors from Australia, Vietnam and around the world, the decision was made to close the Loreto Vietnam program. Over the past 25 years, Loreto Vietnam has positively impacted the lives of more than 90,000 children and their families across impoverished, rural regions of Southern Vietnam through the provision of inclusive and equitable education. Loreto Vietnam has developed into a respected, trusted and successful INGO. The program has achieved its mission to empower disadvantaged children and communities in Vietnam through education. Since 2015, Loreto Vietnam has been managed by a team of dedicated local staff, most recently under the leadership of Executive Director Mr Viet Dung Nguyen, and the governance of an Advisory Board comprising members from Vietnam and abroad, under the leadership of current Chair, Mr Jason Turnbull. Their passion and energy have been unwavering. We are incredibly proud of the achievements of Loreto Vietnam and thank all across the Loreto network for their past, present, and future support.
I congratulate the graduating Year 12 class of 2021. Each of our Year 12 students across our network has achieved extraordinary things in this disrupted year for schools. The commitment of these students and their dedicated teachers to academic learning, personal growth, the pursuit of challenges and true engagement with the world around them demonstrates the very essence of a Loreto education, with our focus on the development of the whole person. In the Loreto year of Felicity, their successes, talents, and individual stories have brought abundant joy and a constant reminder of our purpose and mission as educators. We wish all these students the very best for their futures and know they will go on to be “women who come to do much.”
In 2022, the year of Freedom, members of our schools, communities, and ministries, are invited to deepen our appreciation of this Mary Ward virtue. We look forward to exploring this gift with each of you as we continue on our mission to strengthen the Loreto network. We eagerly await in-person contact, those fundamental human interactions that we so often take for granted, and reconnecting with you all again in the spirit of Freedom.
I wish you and your loved ones a restful Christmas break at the end of another extraordinary year. Our thoughts are with those less fortunate, those facing circumstances that present worry, turmoil or suffering. We pray for their comfort and respite, for peace within their spirits, and for love to enfold them.
Christmas reveals the immense love of God for humanity. From that flows also the enthusiasm, the hope of us Christians, that in our poverty we know that we are loved, we are visited, accompanied by God.
– Pope Francis –
Cate Sydes, CEO, Loreto Ministries December | 2021