Mission & Identity Resources | February 2023
New year; new beginnings! Throughout 2023, I will share a `newsletter’ that compiles resources intended to support our Loreto communities to celebrate the dates highlighted on our Loreto Schools Mission calendar. I will also share a reflection and any other resources that are timely/helpful to exploring our roles through a Loreto lens. If you have a resource that you would like to see included, please do share it with me via email. Or, if there is a topic you would like me to address in the month ahead, please do let me know!
It was great to start the new school year with a presentation for the Loreto Toorak staff on the Mary Ward Virtue focus for 2023, Justice. The staff engagement was wonderful to see, as staff took up opportunities to discuss the wisdom offered to us by Mary Ward, Gonzaga Barry, Pope Francis and the Scriptures. Their pride in the ways that Loreto Toorak invites their students into being `seekers of truth and doers of justice’ was evident and well founded. I also thoroughly enjoyed the chance to chat with staff over morning tea and share in a celebration of the Eucharist with Fr Andrew Bullen SJ, who some of you may know from Sydney.
I know all schools will have started the year with support for their staff to explore the centrality of the faith tradition that underpins the Loreto mission, and I thank all school leaders who facilitated these opportunities.
I’m looking forward to heading to Loreto Coorparoo to work with their Board, as well as leading formation with the Loreto Ministries and Mary Ward International Australia Boards as February continues. Please remember that if you would like to discuss any support I may be able to offer for your board, staff, leadership team or even yourself, I will be delighted to work with you to develop ideas that will best nourish your audience in your context. You are very welcome to contact me via phone or email (details below).
I plan to send these newsletters out in the middle of the month prior to the month in focus. If you have any feedback on this, or any edition, I’m keen to hear it. In the meantime, I pray that the hope and possibility inherent in new beginnings inspires our efforts! All the best for a great February!
St Josephine Bakhita’s Feast Day | 8th Febraury
The Feast of St Josephine Bakhita is also the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking in Persons. The UN defines “Trafficking in persons” as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation” (Article 3(a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime). As striving for justice in working against Human Trafficking is a strong commitment of the IBVM, on this day we are invited to take a moment in prayer for those unjustly treated and to recommit ourselves to supporting work that seeks to end human trafficking.
Anniversary of Apology to the Stolen Generations | 13th February
In 1997 the Bringing Them Home report concluded that “For individuals, their removal as children and the abuse they experienced at the hands of the authorities or their delegates have permanently scarred their lives. The harm continues in later generations, affecting their children and grandchildren”. The Loreto commitment to working for a just future for all peoples in this country calls us to mark this anniversary and to highlight for our communities the centrality of respecting and maintaining the inherent human dignity of all people.
World Day of Social Justice | 20th February
In 2007, the UN General Assembly declared that February 20th will be celebrated annually as the World Day of Social Justice. In this Loreto Year of Justice, today provides an opportunity to reflect on how we invite and empower our community members to be `seekers of truth and doers of justice’.
Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent | 22nd February
Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Season of Lent, provides the opportunity to gather and take part in an old ritual, in solidarity with Christian communities all over the world, in the hope that our prayers and our efforts will help bring justice and peace to the world.
In the Early Church, Christians did not observe Lent because their focus was on remembering Easter, the time of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection. But by the year 600 CE, Christians kept the 40 days before Easter (not including Sundays) for what was called the Initiation of the Elect, that is, the preparation for Baptism of people who wanted to become Christians. It was also a time when people who had fallen back into serious sin after their Baptism could work at getting back on track, so that they could renew their baptismal vows at Easter.
On Ash Wednesday we are presented with the opportunity to reflect on how we can become the best versions of ourselves; to identity ways that we can do better when it comes to how we treat others, ourselves, and our relationships with God and this earth. The ashes distributed today have for centuries been a symbol of sorrow, repentance and cleansing. They mark us as people who are sorry for the choices we have made that have cut us off from God, our true self, others in our community and our earth. May we embrace the opportunity Ash Wednesday provides, and enter into Lent prepared to work towards a good relationship with God, self, others and the planet earth.
Mary Ward Connect | 28th February – 3rd March
This year’s celebration of Mary Ward Connect, bringing together students and staff from around Australia, will see events occur over the course of this week. Further information is available from individual schools’ LSAC representatives.