It is timely to reflect on the journey that marked the first half of 2022. It seems a distant memory for many that we started the College year online due to COVID-19 restrictions. We were fortunate to soon return to face-to-face learning but needed to curtail many activities as a result of ongoing restrictions. This was closely followed by disastrous flooding across South-East Queensland and New South Wales. While we were fortunate at Loreto College Coorparoo to sustain only minor damage, some families and staff did experience flooding and disruption to homes and businesses.

We finished the semester on a high note, however, reinstating many of our co-curricular activities that form the rich tapestry of College life. One of these was our Semester One Mass, delayed to the end of term. I was most grateful to share my perspective on the Gospel reading where the Pharisees questioned Jesus around which commandment was the greatest. Jesus’ answer can be summed up as to “love God and to love your neighbour as yourself.”

I reminded our students of the words of the great songstress, Whitney Houston, who sang that “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all”.  In the rush of the every day, and particularly through times of great adversity, recognising that each of us deserves to be loved and then actioning that through self-care is more important than ever. When we take time to exercise self-care, it then gives us greater capacity to care for others.

I was most grateful to see the care exercised by our College staff, for example, who volunteered to assist those who had experienced flooding either through clean-ups or donations. Mary Ward, the founder of Loreto, said that not only “must we love our neighbour as ourselves, we must also behave as though we do”.

What this looks like in today’s world can be challenging where so much is demanded of our time and attention. Ideally, it sees us turn towards others and their needs, where we practice tolerance and treat everyone with dignity.

I was so proud to see tolerance and empathy enacted by our students and staff on the final day of term, where we raised money for the Mary Ward International Australia project which supports the provision of solar lighting in communities in West Bengal. While we are yet to finalise our accounts, our students and staff worked together to raise over $12 000.00 for this worthy project. The sense of felicity in the air was contagious as we worked to support a common cause, enacting Mary Ward’s maxim, “to be seekers of truth and doers of justice”.