Congratulations to the Class of 2021!
Late last week, our Year 12 students received their final subject results, certification and ATAR results (where eligible). I congratulate each member of the Class of 2021 as each student passed all their subjects and everyone received certification. There were many very strong performances from our students and they should feel very proud of the effort they made in Years 11 and 12. Many students had already received university placement offers prior to the release of their results, while other students will wait for the first round offers early next year. Many members of the Class of 2021 have already busied themselves through employment opportunities, while others are taking the opportunity to relax after all their work through high school.
The time between leaving Year 12 and the next milestone in life’s journey can sometimes seem uncertain and this has been exacerbated in recent years by the pandemic that we are living through. For emerging generations, the pandemic is a large part of the world that shapes them. This time of transition from one stage to another (underpinned by a changing world) brings with it significant changes and challenges. Some students will find this time exciting, while others may find the lack of certainty contribute to some worries.
The founder of Loreto, Mary Ward, was no stranger to living in times of uncertainty. Through her life, as she sought to establish her order and associated schools, she faced derision from her opponents, poverty and illness. At the same time, she lived in a time of political uncertainty, and in England, persecution of Catholics.
Mary Ward was blessed to have around her a circle of friends. While they were disparagingly referred to as the “galloping gals,” Mary Ward valued her friendships stating:
…let your love at all times be rooted in God, and then remain faithful to your friends, value them highly, even more highly than your life…
As we approach Christmas, I am mindful of the many people in our society who will face Christmas alone, without a “circle of friends”. Not everyone approaches Christmas feeling festive; a Red Cross study reported that 20% of people aged over 70 anticipate they will spend Christmas alone. The study also found that 44% of 18-29 year olds reported loneliness, the highest of all age groups. It is concerning that one of our more digitally connected generations is reporting such a high degree of isolation. Hara Estoff Mano wrote that:
Evidence has been growing that when our need for social relationships is not met, we fall apart mentally and even physically. There are effects on the brain and on the body.
We can even find descriptions of despair of loneliness in scripture:
Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul (Psalm 142:4).
So what we can do for those who are lonely? We should model the compassion Jesus showed to those suffered- through a kind act or word, honouring their dignity as human beings and opening our circle of friends.