Loreto International Schools’ Conference – South Africa
The Loreto International Schools’ conference was held at Loreto Queenswood, Pretoria from 25 June to 2 July. The theme of the conference was, ‘Rooted, Responsive and Relevant’. In her opening address, Sr Noelle Corscadden, Institute leader said, ‘Let us be rooted in the gospel and in our tradition and our history. Let us hear and be responsive to the calls and the needs of today’s world and let us be courageous and creative in our response to today’s call, so our Mary Ward schools will go forward and continue to be relevant in the twenty-first century.’
There were 19 countries represented among the 70 participants. It was a coming together of CJ and Loreto schools reflecting the GC Call, ‘Create the oneness that moves us across boundaries’. Throughout the conference, we lived and modelled a Church experience, all of us bringing our gifts and prayers to the table, enriched at the end of each day.
Speakers included: Gemma Simmonds CJ, Cecilia O’Dwyer ibvm and South African Bishop, Kevin Dowling. Among the topics covered were the contemporary expression of our charism, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, social media and a gospel response to our multi-faith, multicultural world. The conference outcomes reflected the aims evidenced by new seeds being planted to broaden the mission in the areas of charism; justice, peace and the integrity of creation; change, diversity and sustainable development.
The conference outcomes include a “Mary Ward Schools” document, produced as a result of our work together. A complement to the Kolkata Education Guidelines (2003), it will be an exciting and challenging guideline to help us respond, in a relevant way, to education in the twenty-first century.
Collaboration was further advanced by a proposal for a structure to ensure the continuation of networking including joint Education Conferences. This proposal will be presented to the General Leadership of both Congregations.
The Mary Ward Resources Document Library – an online library – now has a group of delegates willing to work on the upkeep and development of this valuable resource.
Most sincere thanks to the organisers for their planning and running of the conference and their attention to every detail and to the staff from the three Loreto schools in South Africa for their wonderful hospitality. It truly was a joyous, enlightening gathering, congruent to our times.
Words: Director Loreto Education, Jeffrey Burn