On Friday, November 27th, the School Captains of our Australian Loreto schools gathered for their annual student leadership conference, online, as 2020 would have it. This conference, part of the work of the Loreto Schools of Australia Committee (LSAC), was organised and run collaboratively this year, together with staff from Loreto Ministries. From the earliest days of Gonzaga Barry’s foundation in Ballarat, her desire to build relationships among the school networks, students, and staff across the country was evident. Gatherings that strengthen connection are a vital part of our network, and this meeting each year is a highlight for all involved.
Our 16 student leaders made new connections, shared ideas, were inspired, and reflected on the focus Loreto value for 2021 – Felicity. Some were recently elected to their roles, while others had already carried out a range of leadership responsibilities; all, however, came with an energy and enthusiasm to lead their school communities in the new year with authenticity, spirit, and purpose. The positivity, intelligence, and good humour of this outstanding group of young women buzzed through the screen. It was evident in the questions asked, thoughts shared, and moments of friendship that blossomed throughout the day.
Listening to and learning from other leaders was the focus of the conference. Guest speaker, young First Nations writer and broadcaster Marlee Silva, shared her personal story of finding her voice and claiming her space as a leader. Loreto past pupils Francesca Torcasio Barberis, Isabella Gun, Poppy Rosengren, and Macaylah Johnson reflected on their student leadership experiences and how these have informed their lives, choices, and leadership beyond school. Michelle Gale, Fundraising and Marketing Coordinator from Mary Ward International Australia (MWIA), presented an overview of current projects and some of the more personal stories behind their work, engaging students in a sense of their shared responsibility to lead support and action for MWIA in their school communities.
Anne Muirhead, Loreto Ministries Director of Mission, led the group through an exploration of the Mary Ward value of Felicity, its scriptural foundations, its application in Mary Ward’s own life, and how we may find Felicity in a contemporary sense. This journey set the framework for the student leaders to work together in small break-out groups on the ideas, words, and images that would shape the shared Felicity Prayer for 2021. The formation of this prayer is a crucial task at the conference each year and is used across our entire network.
Mary Ward wrote, “I am hopeful in God’s goodness.” Hope, optimism, and courage are key aspects of Felicity. They are essential traits for a Loreto leader and were embodied throughout the conference. Hope for what is possible and brings joy in the future, a desire to see and seek the good, and the strength and energy to lead in their schools and beyond characterise the work and witness of our exemplary 2021 School Captains.
The Loreto Year of Felicity is certainly in cheerful heads, hearts, and hands.
All Images: Loreto Marryatville and Loreto Coorparoo students participating in the LSAC Student Leadership Conference.