The Mary Ward Year of Justice
Each year, Loreto communities around Australia explore one of Mary Ward’s five virtues. In 2023, our focus is on Justice.
Mary Ward’s sense of justice flowed from her love of God and faith in God’s love for her. Mary’s response to this love was a love that transforms hearts and enables works of justice to flow. The Mary Ward maxim `seek truth and do justice’ encourages us to see that when we open our hearts to this love, we too can transform the world.
Famously, the prophet Micah exhorts us to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). This call to `do justice’ is also clear in the New Testament: in the First Letter of John, we are reminded that “Our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active.” (1 John 3:18). Srs Christine Burke ibvm and Margaret C. Honner ibvm explain that the Scriptural call to work for justice invokes a “sense of justice [that] goes well beyond fair play. God’s justice is always linked to compassion to bring about a more humane and caring world based on right relationships.” (www.loreto.org.au/justice/justice/) A justice that involves love – not disengaged, but rooted in agape, selfless love that seeks the promotion of others – is the justice that we celebrate and explore this year.
One of my favourite quotes from Mary Ward about Justice is, “Then Thou saidist that justice was the best disposition, now Thou showest how such justice is to be gotten.” (Mary Ward, Rome, St. Gregory’s Day, 1636). It presents a challenge and suggests an idea of thoughtful, informed action. Our Loreto schools provide a myriad of opportunities for their staff and students to engage in relationships as they learn about and work for social justice. Immersion experiences, regular volunteer Christian service activities, camps and consistent engagement with representatives of various community groups ensure that our young people have every chance to develop “a lively awareness of local and global issues”. More than that, our Loreto Schools of Australia Mission Statement calls for our schools to support young people to develop lives that “include a real element of active and generous contribution to the community”. As we strive to `seek truth and do justice’, may we embrace the truth that supporting those in need involves knowing those in need – it requires relationships, from which understanding can grow.
May we develop our own `desire to do good’ with open hearts that embrace the inherent dignity of all people, brothers and sisters in the eyes of God and worthy of every opportunity to fulfil our potential. This year, and ever more, may we live this maxim of Mary Ward: `Do good, and do it well.’
Author: Carolyn Young, Director of Mission & Identity, Loreto Ministries