Welcome to this year of Felicity – a year in which we are invited to deepen our understanding and appreciation of this defining value – a value understood by members of our global family as being an attitude of mind, a disposition of the heart that manifests itself in cheerfulness, good humour, joy, happiness, hope, optimism, friendliness, courtesy, positive thinking, inner peace, self-acceptance, and courage. May we keep these attributes front of mind as we navigate this new year, embracing its challenges with optimism and positivity and celebrating its successes with a lightness of spirit.
Much has been written about the many and varied challenges faced by students, particularly Year 12 students, across our network of Loreto schools throughout 2020. Our Year 12 students navigated their final year with resilience, hope, and optimism. The graduates of 2020 excelled in their academic pursuits and in the proactive manner in which they reimagined significant events that play a key role in our school communities. They led in a fashion that inspired their peers and nurtured the unique community spirit that exists in each of our Loreto schools.
It has been delightful to read about individual student achievements. The stories of success are reflective of the positive partnerships that exist between home and school, and the invaluable support provided for students by school leaders, teachers, and non-teaching staff. We congratulate Sarah Harrington from Loreto College Ballarat, who achieved an ATAR of 99.95. Sarah was one of 38 students in Victoria to achieve this perfect score and one of 6 females to do so in 2020. Sarah was awarded a Chancellor’s Scholarship at the University of Melbourne.
On behalf of Loreto Ministries, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Class of 2020 in each of our Loreto schools on their achievements and extend my best wishes as they pursue their future endeavours.
2021 also marks the bicentenary Jubilee of the Irish branch of the institute. On 12 August 1821, Frances Teresa Ball and two novices, Anne Baptist Therry and Eleanor Ignatia Arthur, returned from York to establish a house of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dublin. On 4 November 1821, they opened the first house of the Institute in Ireland and named it ‘Loretto’, after the shrine in Italy. The name ‘Loretto’ was used for all subsequent foundations that originated from Ireland and resulted in Sisters of the Irish branch being popularly known as ‘Loreto Sisters’ (the spelling of which changed at the end of the nineteenth century). We look forward to celebrating this significant milestone with our global family from August this year.
Loreto Vietnam extends their good wishes as they celebrate the Year of the Buffalo. We keep all who form a part of our Loreto Vietnam community in our prayers as they face the challenges associated with COVID-19 resurgence and the risk this poses on business development and sustainability. Loreto Vietnam continues their work with determination, helping those in need in the South by running health education programs and building sanitation facilities. These projects positively impact on the well-being of young girls and make a notable difference in school attendance. Their programs working with children with special needs have also been a great success, as has the Wheels for Education program.
In keeping with our strategic priority of strengthening an engaged Loreto network, Loreto Ministries’ staff have worked with Loreto sisters and colleagues to shape a philosophical Loreto Formation Framework. Its primary purpose in 2021 is to guide and animate board and staff formation across the Province, Loreto Ministries and Mary Ward International Australia. I am delighted to report that across Term 1, all school boards, Loreto Centre staff, and the Loreto Ministries Board will ponder the richness of Mary Ward’s spirituality in light of our personal and corporate reality. Loreto Vietnam staff and board will also benefit from the framework and newly centralised resources.
Finally, I would like to welcome those who have joined our network in varied positions and thank those who have given many years of service to Loreto and are transitioning to new beginnings. Your generosity has contributed significantly to the accomplishments of Loreto, and you have shown yourselves to be integral in your roles.
There were many lessons learnt last year that can guide our journey throughout 2021. The importance of connection and reliance on one another was perhaps one of the great learnings. The lifeblood that is community, especially in a Christian context, will be a most enduring legacy. Lasting is the power of kindness and understanding, as is the importance of listening to one another and the Spirit. May 2021 be rich in joy and blessings to you, those you love, and to the community you lead. We embark on the year ahead with a deeper and more profound understanding of our humanity, our God and our dependence on one another.