From August 2021-2022, the Irish Province of Loreto is celebrating the bicentenary of their foundation by Mother Frances Teresa Ball. Frances ‘Teresa” Ball was a young Englishwoman who attended school at the Bar Convent in York and then later, upon the encouragement of the Bishop of Dublin, entered religious life there. In August 1821, Teresa Ball returned home to Dublin to establish Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham and, from there, a flourishing network of Loreto schools across Ireland. Throughout her life, Teresa Ball sent Loreto Sisters to all four corners of the globe and began over 30 Loreto foundations. It was from Ireland that Gonzaga Barry departed in 1875 to begin the Loreto Story in Australia.
Loreto Ministries is working in collaboration with the Loreto Justice Network and each of our schools to acknowledge this seminal Irish anniversary through supporting the Bicentenary Jubilee Ecology Project. In launching the Bicentenary, Institute Leader Sr Noelle Corscadden ibvm wrote, “as part of our jubilee, we will invite each province to undertake an environmental project, something significant that will witness to our care of creation”. In Australia, the project will focus on tree planting initiatives across schools, the Province and our broader network of friends of Loreto. The Ecology Project has been designed to honour Teresa Ball’s foundational and visionary work, which began small and has given rise to an extensive global family that continues to grow and flourish sustainably today. Our commitment to tree planting projects on scales both little and big reflects her dedication to her life’s work. It demonstrates our Loreto commitment to environmental action and care for creation.
For our schools, the Bicentenary Ecology Project particularly connects to the Mary Ward Schools Compass, pointing us to the South-East point of Engaging with the Bigger Picture. This point calls our schools “to recognise the interconnectedness of all things, find educational ways to engage with Laudato Si and Agenda 2030: Transforming our World. We promote the values, skills and behaviours needed for living as global citizens finding fulfilment in harmony with all of creation.”
In the second half of 2021, we have seen several schools, such as Loreto College Ballarat, participate in community tree-planting activities. Others outline their commitment to planning the involvement of school families and past pupils in tree planting projects during 2022. Both Loreto Normanhurst and Loreto Toorak have planned ceremonies and liturgies around the symbolism of tree planting and new beginnings in their school communities to commence next year. Loreto Ministries also acknowledges and celebrates action by the Loreto Sisters themselves in supporting organisations such as 15 Trees, run by a past pupil of Loreto College Ballarat, and the tree planting taking place in the homes of different Loreto Sisters such as Sisters Margie O’Sullivan and Sister Marg Finlay in Melbourne.
In the same year where the Church launched a seven-year action plan to bring to life the key themes of Laudato Si, our Australian Mary Ward family remains committed to integrating our theological understanding of the sacredness of creation into concrete action and education, acknowledging our Irish roots as we grow into a sustainable future together.
Feature Image: Srs Marg Finlay and Margie O’Sullivan mark the Bicentenary Jubilee of Loreto’s establishment in Ireland by planting a tree in their Hawthorn backyard.
Body Image: Students from the Loreto College Ballarat Sustainability group in action!