Offering girls the kind of education that would make them “seekers of truth and doers of justice” was innovative and controversial, as was her plan for the Institute to be self-governing, mobile and actively engaged in the work of the Gospel. Grounded in Ignatian Spirituality, she believed in the capacity of women as well as men to find God in the ordinary experience of human life. In her time it seemed that she fought a losing battle, culminating in the suppression of her Institute, her own imprisonment and the closing of the schools.
Over 400 years later, the spirit of Mary Ward continues to inspire. Today Loreto schools are part of an international network of friendship. In 1875 Mother Mary Gonzaga Barry brought the Institute to Australia. Her influence on primary, secondary and tertiary education was both lively and profound. She established schools across the country which provided a wide range of students with a balanced, happy yet challenging education that prepared them to exert a lasting influence on the emerging nation. Moreover, her initiatives to improve the quality of teacher training and inservice went far beyond Loreto. Now the Institute is active across Australia and in every continent, collaborating with others to bring the Gospel to life in the church and in society. Education is seen as a vital part of this endeavour, a way of promoting full human growth and freedom.
This is our vision: that Loreto schools offer a Catholic education which liberates, empowers and motivates students to use their individual gifts with confidence, creativity and generosity in loving and responsible service.