Love: a word freely used in our society to cover a range of human emotions and actions; a powerful word which can motivate and inspire beyond even our own expectations.
However, the word on its own is not enough and actions must follow. Love is one of the foundations upon which Venerable Mary Aikenhead acted and which she exhorted all of her followers to also enact.
Our Vision, Mission and Values document released in 2019 includes the following on Love:
“At Mary Aikenhead Ministries we seek to express the unconditional love of Jesus Christ as the primary motivator and baxic character that defines all our ministries and guides our actions. Love lies at the heart of all human relationships which are ultimately life-giving and sustaining. Thus, our ministries seek to be places of loving care where the dignity of all is recognised and where the human spirit is nutured.”
The examples included in this edition of Journeys are snapshots of the many ways you, in our diverse Ministries, are enacting our value of Love as you respond so magnificently to the challenges firstly of the bushfires and now of COVID-19.
Because of the nature of the works included here, many behind the scenes people are not highlighted: our laundries, ICT, catering, cleaning, security, volunteers, drivers, media, finance, front office…. the list is endless. It includes those who support you at home and so strengthen your ability to act. It is the combined efforts of all in our hospitals, aged care, social services and schools which have enabled our response. You have lived active Love in the service of the poor, vulnerable, sick, anxious, girls needing an education and emotional support, those escaping domestic abuse and homelessness. You have helped our nation respond and made our society stronger.
One of the great joys and blessings for me these last weeks has been listening to the Compassion, Courage and Consolation podcast so beautifully compiled by Dr Dan Fleming with contributions from many across our ministries. As I have listened to the exploration of the theme in each episode I have felt humbled by the love, faith and devotion so willingly shared.
Whilst the focus of the podcasts has been on health and aged care, a recent special episode also profiled the love, faith and devotion of staff and students at St Columba’s College, which has been reflected around our education ministries.
These examples have reminded me that we are part of the Marian tradition of our faith and are tangible, contemporary examples of you saying Yes! Just as Mary said Yes! to God in bearing and raising Jesus. Probably there have been and will be many times when you wish that Mary Aikenhead’s words “Truly love will make labour light.” (11/07/1840) were more of a reality for you. It is those moments when Love truly shines through.
As Trustees, we thank you, we applaud you and we assure you of our prayers. I remain in awe of your work and share with you below some inspiring stories of hope, love and compassion from our ministries.
Ms Janet Freeman
Trustee, Mary Aikenhead Ministries
St Vincent’s Hospital
St Vincent’s College
‘The most amazing experience in all this has been how staff have come together to collaborate. We have overcome the isolation by really supporting each other. What I want to tell you is that we were at a loss as a community so involved in hands-on outreach, when all our activities shut down one after the other. We all wanted to DO something.
We got together with St Canice’s kitchen, put a call out to our school community that they were desperate for funds. They needed to fund their bathrooms, take-away service and pop-up health centre for the homeless which had to be closed because they couldn’t follow protocols.
The St Vincent’s Community joined forces with the parish community and donations from both rolled in. Do you know in the first hour after I sent an email to our community the total had reached $8,000 and in three days it was over $48,000. It’s still going up.
St Canice’s got their COVID-19 response program up and running in record time and our community felt they’d really made a difference.
How lucky am I and how inadequate to the task the Lord has put before us?’
Ms Jo Kenderes
Director of Faith and Mission
St Vincent’s College Sydney, NSW
St Columba’s College
‘Continuing the theme of service, students’ families and staff have been busy with their sewing machines, whilst learning from home. In a call for help from the Footscray SVDP Conference, who continued operating their Soup Van during these challenging times – we were asked if we could sew reusable bags to assist them in hamper deliveries. This great activity was led by the Student Leadership Coordinator and Justice Leader working with student leaders and justice groups – with so many people offering their help as we continue to be God’s loving presence in our world.’
Mr Shane Taylor
Head of Faith and Mission
St Columba’s College Essendon, VIC
Catholic Ladies’ College
‘What has been touching is seeing that the phrase ‘staying apart is keeping us together’ alive and celebrated. We have staff running online lunchtime activities for the students in exercise/dance/music/ aerobics and social interest group meets. It has been amazing how adaptable and willing staff have been to undertake changed roles and ensure the best offerings for all students. Personally, one of the most valuable experiences to come out of this is the importance and affirmation of community and the support and solidarity in sharing with others.’
Mr Frank Salmic
Faith and Mission Leader
Catholic Ladies’ College Eltham, VIC
St Michael’s College
The work of the Student Community Action groups has continued, as the teacher leaders of each group have engaged and reached out to the students across the various year levels. Students are preparing remotely for their action when they return to school.
We have also continued to provide practical support to our local St Vincent De Paul Conference through donations of toiletries and food for those in need.
Mr Stephen Campion
Deputy Principal Faith and Mission
Mt St Michael’s College Ashgrove, QLD