If you listen enough to the media you will begin to develop a particular view of young people as self-absorbed, technologically obsessed and voracious followers and consumers of celebrity and fashion. Coupled with this is the perception that they have very short attention spans; a lack of concern for our communal future and a craving for quick solutions to complex issues and problems. So to be involved in the education of young people at this time might seem to be a very difficult task, given our strong commitment to the Mary Aikenhead Ministry values of love, hope, compassion and justice.
Each year in our four Colleges we award the Mary Aikenhead Ministries Social Justice Award to acknowledge the outstanding leadership of a young woman who has ‘turned the tables’ on the expectations of her generation and provided each of us with an example of inspiring commitment to the power of love and compassion in bringing forth just action and hope in our world.
In January this year I received a letter from Grace Hayes, recipient of the St Vincent’s College MAM Social Justice Award thanking me for the opportunity to attend two of our Colleges for her secondary education; Catholic Ladies’ College and St Vincent’s College.
What is most notable about Grace’s letter is her deep sense of gratitude for the culture of the schools she attended, one that was transparent and consistent across both settings. I am sure that, like me, as you read Grace’s letter (on page 4) you will feel humbled by the way she has enlivened and lived our values within and beyond their College community, and her commitment to continue do so in the future. Here is a young woman of passion and energy, who in her own words draws from the ‘wisdom, courage and love’ of Mary Aikenhead in embarking on the next stage of her life journey.
It is at times such as these that I am privileged to be the Mary Aikenhead Education Australia Ministry Leader, to have contact with such remarkable schools who support and encourage such remarkable young women to continue to tell and live such a remarkable story in such a prophetic and transformational way.
Mr Peter Kelly
Ministry Leader, Mary Aikenhead Education Australia
Thank you letter from Miss Grace Hayes
Dear Mr Peter Kelly,
My name is Grace Hayes, and I attended both Catholic Ladies’ College and St Vincent’s College for my high school education, and was the recipient of the Mary Aikenhead Ministry’s Award for St Vincent’s College 2018. I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to attend such incredible schools, and for the award.
I attended Catholic Ladies’ College (CLC) from Year 7 until the middle of Year 11. CLC taught me how to appreciate every opportunity given to me, acting with forgiveness, care and kindness in all of my actions. The fundamental support and guidance I received at that school set the foundation for the way in which I now interact with the wider community. It has always been the Sisters of Charity’s fourth vow that guided my school life, Service to the Poor, and it was CLC that instilled such a sense of justice.
I moved to St Vincent’s College (SVC) at the beginning of Term 3 Year 11, starting as a boarder. It was difficult, however because the school was also under Mary Aikenhead Ministries, I felt incredibly at ease. As you know, SVC highlights the importance of justice, hope and compassion for all. They provided me with incredible opportunities academically and pastorally. I loved every minute at the school, and being in boarding made everything better. It allowed me to go beyond my comfort zone, and made me have stronger resilience and determination.
Boarding also allowed me to meet girls from all over Australia, and the world. It exposed me to situations which I would not have been a part of in any other school, and has led me to create life-long friends. It was the best decision I could’ve made. It is with such an education and opportunities that I now go out into the world with a motivation to live justly and have confidence and integrity.
SVC guided me through the toughest year of them all, Year 12. My teachers created a Year 12 experience like no other, where I was supported academically and pastorally, allowing for me and the rest of year level to reach their full potential. My year level was incredible as well, with girls from diverse backgrounds, making the last year of school unique. The HSC process was made – if possible – a little bit easier with the help of both the school leadership team and my teachers.
Therefore, without the help from my schools, and Mary Aikenhead Ministries, I wouldn’t have been able to secure my spot at Strathallan School in Perthshire, Scotland, working as a Gap Assistant for my gap year. It was SVC that inspired and nurtured my passion for education, as I witness many great teachers lead the next generation. Such teachers gifted me with the ability to stretch my horizons, hence the move to Scotland. Without their guidance and support I wouldn’t of had this opportunity.
I look forward to visiting Donnybrook, Ireland to see Mary Aikenhead’s house and grave, and pay my respects to a woman who has guided my life so profoundly. It is in her wisdom, courage and love that I embark on this journey.
Thank you again,