‘We shouldn’t do anything on our own that we can do together’
– Sr Wendy Hildebrand ibvm –
These words ring true as I reflect on the first half of 2022. As travel resumed and face-to-face interaction became possible once again, we witnessed increased collaborative action across many areas of our network.
Recently, our Principals came together for their forum, where part of the day provided an opportunity for sharing reflections on the COVID-19 experience. Significant issues that have emerged and continue to do so were a focus, particularly concerning student and staff wellbeing and the strategies being implemented across the various schools to address this key issue. This was a noteworthy event in our network as it was the first time Loreto Principals had met face-to-face since the pandemic hit. The joy, energy and spirit of cooperation and collaboration evident on the day was truly inspiring. We are, indeed, fortunate to have such a wonderful group of Principals who are so deeply committed to student and staff wellbeing.
In May, we saw Mary Ward International Australia come together with the Loreto Justice Network for the Shining a Light on a Better Future Webinar, in which we heard from Loreto representatives sharing the ways in which they are responding to Pope Francis’ call “to care for our Common Home” through their inspiring initiatives. This collaboration was also an opportunity to relaunch the Loreto Justice Network and shine a light on MWIA’s current solar lanterns appeal. I invite you all to take the time to explore the new justice action centres on the Loreto website as well as the efforts of MWIA in the Sundarbans region, India.
At the beginning of the year, we welcomed Carolyn Young, our newly appointed Director of Mission and Identity, to the LML team. Carolyn brings a wealth of experience to this expanded position, and we are all benefitting from her deep understanding of Catholic education, school leadership and governance, and the integral role authentically embedding the charism of the founder plays in enlivening the mission of the contemporary Catholic school community. Throughout Semester One, Carolyn has been busy establishing positive relationships with Principals and Directors of Mission in schools, gaining an understanding of the context within which each of our schools operates, getting to know her LML colleagues, meeting Loreto Sisters, and immersing herself in the story of Mary Ward and how this is lived out daily in Loreto schools. Carolyn has already made a positive impact on our network, as evidenced through her presentations at school board retreats, working with the LML and MWIA Boards, reintroducing Director of Mission network meetings, contributing to the important work of the Loreto Justice Network and creating meaningful prayer and reflection experiences for the Loreto Centre staff.
In July, we will gather together at the Chairs and Principals meeting in Brisbane to discuss the Province’s endeavour toward becoming a Ministerial Public Juridic Person (MPJP) and the increasingly important issue of environmental sustainability. COP26 called for us to put the world on a path to aggressively cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow Earth’s warming. All across our Loreto network are incorporating environmental initiatives and solutions in support of this goal. We look forward to engaging in further conversation around this critical topic that will guide our schools into the future.
Importantly, we will also have the opportunity to formally farewell Cate Sydes, who commenced the next chapter of her life journey in February. By all accounts, Cate is enjoying her retirement immensely, particularly the additional time she can now share with her husband, children, and, most of all, her two beautiful grandchildren. We look forward to seeing Cate in July and to celebrating, with gratitude, her leadership of Loreto Ministries over the past five years.
We look forward to joining the Loreto Nedlands community in August to celebrate 125 continuous years of Loreto presence in Western Australia and commemorate our rich history in the spirit of Freedom, reflecting on the strength and determination of our founding Sisters to continue the mission and vision of Mary Ward in Australia.
Since the beginning of the year, Loreto Ministries has been supporting Loreto Vietnam in winding down its operations. 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. We are incredibly proud of the achievements of Loreto Vietnam and thank all across the Loreto network for their past, present, and future support. The Loreto Sisters remain committed to an ongoing presence and mission in Vietnam and will continue to support local and disadvantaged communities. They intend to embark on a discernment process to re-imagine the shape of future mission and ministries and will draw on the experiences, ideas, and learnings of the many friends of Loreto Vietnam. The INGO status of Loreto Vietnam will remain and be incorporated into future plans.
As we approach the end of the Irish Bicentenary Jubilee, I commend all schools for their environmental and planting initiatives in response to the Ecology project in which Sr Noelle Corscadden ibvm, Institute Leader, called for each province to ‘undertake and environmental project, something significant that will witness to our care of creation’. Schools have truly shown their care for creation through the planting of seedlings and trees, vegetable gardens, green walls, bush tucker gardens and pledges to plant further.
In the second half of 2022, Loreto Ministries will begin preparations for its new strategic plan. We look forward to challenging ourselves and creating a practical plan that will enable us to meet our future objectives and goals. Collaboration with our school network will play a key role in our planning process.
A fortnight ago, we bid farewell to the Loreto Centre in Hawthorn. Research has been underway to find a suitable office location to meet our criteria for current and future needs. Our post office box address and all Loreto Centre staff contact numbers and emails remain the same as we work from home for the interim period. I look forward to sharing the details of our new office location once this is confirmed.
In closing, I thank all Principals, staff, boards and leadership teams for their responsiveness throughout this phase of the pandemic. I would also like to acknowledge and thank each member of the Loreto Ministries team for their ongoing efforts, generosity of spirit, and for their flexibility and adaptability in making the transition to working from home once more.
Author: Paul Ould, Acting CEO and Director of Education, Loreto Ministries