‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ – Marian Wright Edelman

This morning we celebrated our annual International Womens Day breakfast. In opening our time together, I shared some of my own personal experiences around the assumptions that are still made about women. When we first moved into our current home, about three years ago, someone in the neighbourhood came up to my husband and said, ‘You must be the Principal’, to which my husband proudly replied, ‘No. Luci is the Principal’.

I would not say that I am an activist however I am very active in my commitment and passion for women to have their place at the table. This morning, I challenged our young women in the room to ensure they are always at the table when they are invited and if they find they are not getting a place, to invite themselves. This week Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools launched a report into Women in Leadership following a 12 month process of research and listening to the voices of women in leadership or aspiring to leadership. I was proud to be a part to the reference group that initiated this project and to be one of the participants in the research phase. Today I am travelling to Sydney, actually as I write this reflection, to begin the first unit in a Women’s Leadership for Mission Program through Australian Catholic University. This is part of my commitment to continue to grow and learn. In the room this morning we had Sr Adele Howard our guest speaker and Sr Joan Wilson, both Mercy Sisters who have given their lives in leadership and service of the mission. I have always been in awe of the work that our religious women undertake and recognise that in the next 20-30 years we will need to fill the void that they leave. This is what motivates and inspires me to continue to learn how I can continue the legacy of their ministries through the work I am called to do.

Women who lead.

This is what I want our young women to see.

Sr Adele Howard was recently asked by Pope Francis to present the voices of those of the ‘existential peripheries’ and listen to the stories of the impact of climate change on their lives and more importantly their person. Today we listened to the stories of four women across the Oceania region who powerfully recounted their integral connection to land, water, sea and sky not just for sustenance and shelter but as the very essence of their being and identity. The call to care for our common home means we are caring for the inherent personhood of many people across our globe.  Their stories also highlighted the critical importance of the leadership of the women in their local communities. One of the students shared the reflection that this surprised them. The work of women like Sr Adele is a powerful reminder of the importance of being people of hope, people who will find a way if we are prepared to listen to the wisdom that is already present within us and to the wisdom of our faith that brings.

Women with wisdom.

This is what I want our young women to see.

Our College Captains shared their own thoughts about what International Womens Day means to them and have generously allowed me to include them in this reflection:

International Women’s Day for me symbolizes the relentless journey towards gender equality and the recognition of women’s rights. It’s a day to celebrate the strength, resilience, and achievements not only of women throughout history, but in my own daily life. The daily triumphs of women are often found in the small but significant moments, whether it’s navigating work environments that undervalue their contributions, balancing family responsibilities, challenging societal norms, or simply being heard and respected. These daily triumphs serve as a reminder of the importance of amplifying women’s voices, supporting each other, and continuing the fight for a world where every woman can thrive without limitations or barriers. – Summer

Celebrating International Women’s Day at Clonard makes me feel empowered and proud to be a woman. But it also inspires me to embody the qualities of women I look up to in my life. International Women’s Day, encourages us to come together to embrace what it means to be a woman, creating a sense of unity and positivity within our community. On this day we celebrate our uniqueness and our shared experiences as women. This helps remind us of the importance of supporting each other, being kind to ourselves and acknowledging each other’s achievements. – Charli

Young women filled with vision and hope.

This is what I want our young women to see and be.

We are so grateful for the care and commitment of our College Development team who put together this event for us to be inspired, nourished and challenged as we continue to work towards a world where all are valued, including women.

It is now less than three weeks until our 10th Anniversary Kildare Ministries Conference. On Monday, five students, representing the College, travelled to Melbourne to join a combined Kildare Ministries choir of over 100 students to record our conference song. We are looking for volunteers who might be able to lend a hand on Thursday 21 March from 9.30am -12 noon as we pack around 450 conference bags. If you are able to lend a hand can you please contact the College office. We will be providing a delicious morning tea. It will also be a great chance to meet other parents as we work together. A reminder to families that classes finish at 12.30pm on Monday 25 March and the school will be closed for the afternoon as we welcome our 450 + conference delegates to the first afternoon of the conference. Please note that the canteen will not be providing service on this day (Monday 25 March). Please ensure you are putting arrangements in place for your daughters to make their way home.

It was great to be on camp with our Year 7 students earlier this week and to hear the positive feedback about how well they are settling in to life at Clonard. A big shout out to the staff who support these opportunities for our students. Thanks also to all our families who supported the recent VCE VM Bowls and Beats nights. We doubled our attendance from 2023 as this annual event grows into a wonderful opportunity to build connection as students’ progress through this senior pathway.

Next week we commence our Open Days for 2024. With over 1000 registrations, we are excited to showcase our learning community to prospective students within the Brigidine spirit of ‘come and see’ and look forward to meeting them and their families. A reminder to our current families that enrolments of siblings who are currently in Year 6 should be completed as soon as possible.

Thanks to those families who have completed our response to the Parent Code of Conduct recently shared with all families, along with the Student Code of Conduct. If you have not yet responded we ask that you check your Operoo emails for this request.

As we head into a well deserved extended long weekend I leave with you some of the wisdom of Pope Francis shared by Sr Adele in her presentation to us this morning.

“As part of the universe… all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect”.

Happy International Women’s Day!