"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life” (Mary Oliver, ‘The Summer Day’)

The dawn of each new year brings an air of freshness and anticipation, an invitation for renewal. There is a sense that regardless of circumstance, all ahead appears to us as opportunities to be embraced rather than obstacles to overcome. Christianity calls this ‘hope’ – trust that even in times of uncertainty and unknowing, the future is worth striving for.

This sense of hope is the essence of our College theme for 2021: “Embracing the Heart’s Call”. Taking inspiration from the person of Mary the mother of Jesus, each member of the MSJ College community is invited to consider the life they are called to live. Mary was a young girl from the humblest of circumstances, with no reason to suspect her life would be extraordinary. Yet, Scripture tells us when she heard the invitation of God to bear the child Jesus, she responded with a courageous "yes":

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”(Luke 1:38)

Often Mary is presented as meek and passive, and we can overlook that it was Mary who raised Jesus to become the man he did. As the first formator for Jesus, it does not take much imagination to consider how Mary nurtured Jesus’ faith, his courage to tackle systemic injustice, his compassion for the most vulnerable, his wisdom to make religious teachings accessible for the people of his time, and most significantly, his incredibly deep capacity for love and desire to make God’s love known to all. In this way, far beyond merely bearing the child, Mary truly did actively co-create with God. This year, we are inviting our community to be inspired by the very human experiences Mary lived, as a young girl living in occupied territory, a frightened new mother, a refugee feeling political persecution, a widow, a grieving mother. Mostly, we are invited to consider her as a young girl surprised by the whispers of God on her heart, who found the grace, strength and wisdom to respond wholeheartedly, becoming as she did the first disciple.

As our girls stepped through the gates at the beginning of February, we welcomed them back with this sense of hope. They have responded with an air of positivity which signifies they have taken up the invitation to be all they are called to be, in solidarity with one another. They have taken seriously the words of Pope Francis, offered to them at our opening assembly: “Like the young woman of Nazareth, you can improve the world and leave an imprint that makes a mark on history, your history and that of many others.” (Pope Francis’ message to Youth - March 2017) Their embodiment of this message in the way they engage with each other and their activities throughout the day inspires us all to be awake to the hope alive in our world.

At the time of writing, we are in the first week of Lent, our Christian season of hope. The journey of Jesus towards the cross reminds us every year that painful as the journey is, death is not the final answer and the hope of resurrection remains present to us. Our celebration of Lent here at MSJ commences with the launch of Project Compassion, the Caritas Australia campaign to fund projects in developing countries. Each week through Lent, students will hear stories of how previous fundraising efforts have supported projects to empower vulnerable people. All within the MSJ community are encouraged to support the endeavours of Project Compassion throughout Lent, which will last the duration of Term 1.

Finally, a month after taking up this role, I would like to express my heart-felt gratitude for all in the community for their words of affirmation and support. This work is life-giving because of the joyous relationships shared in our school community. I am looking forward to journeying through the year with you all.

Andrea Grant

Director of Catholic Identity


On Friday 12 February, MSJ came together to gather as a faith community for our Opening School Mass. This was a special time to celebrate and acknowledge the College theme for the year, “Embracing the Heart's Call.” The Mass was an excellent opportunity for the MSJ community to move forward in our journey of faith as reflected in the readings and prayers. The music was beautiful, and the students should be very proud of their efforts. As an altar server in this Mass, I was provided with an opportunity to connect to my faith, surrounded by an inclusive and welcoming community. Being an altar server has allowed me to experience Mass in a completely different way as I felt that it was brought to life by being an active participant. I would like to thank Mrs Grant and Father John for providing me with the opportunity to take part in this beautiful experience.

“Like the young woman of Nazareth, you can improve the world and leave an imprint that makes a mark on history, your history and that of many others.”

(Pope Francis’ message to Youth - March 2017)

Embracing the Heart's Call is the theme guiding our College life in 2021. In unpacking this theme with staff and students in the first few weeks of school, we reflected on the scriptures that told us of a young woman from humble beginnings who heard the invitation of God in her heart and embraced this calling with a wholehearted "yes". Through exploration, the community of MSJ have acknowledged that just like Mary, we too have a unique call to the fullness of life and should find strength in Mary's open heart. Using the ministry of Mary the mother of Jesus, it is clear to all staff and students alike that embracing our hearts is about bearing open our hearts through our collective “yes” so that we can create a world and school environment that is bursting with love, hope, dignity and strength.

Jade Steenkamp - Year 12 Ministry Captain