Head, Hearts & Hands
Here, at Loreto College Ballarat, we are building our religious knowledge to expand our understanding of the nature of Mission and Service. As part of our studies in Year 9 Religious Education, we are digging deep into projects supported by MWIA and unpacking their contexts. We looked to our role models the courageous women Mary Ward, Mother Gonzaga Barry, Mother Stanislaus Mulhall and Mother Stanislaus Mornane – to consider their own services in the world and identify why their efforts were so successful and influential.
With this in mind, we explored how mission can be applied to issues around the work that use the three H’s: Head, Heart and Hands. These terms refer to the action of service and mission and allow all aspects of it to be present. Using your mind or ‘head’ stimulates your thoughts and intellect, resulting in practical and methodical thinking. This includes the planning, implementation, and execution of the project at hand. This idea of ‘heart’ means our emotional response to a matter; how feelings such as empathy and compassion come into play and affect our work. Recognising the humanity within a struggle helps to forge bonds between the giver and receiver. Unlike the others, using your hands puts your thoughts and feelings into action. The choices we make in this step influence and shape the entire project. Applying yourself by donating your time, resources, and knowledge is important.
With all of this said, we looked at why these terms work harmoniously together, and if only a few were applied, would this result in the project being less of a success?
A central point for any mission or service is considering the dignity of the person. Its particular relevance is that each person is the image of God and, therefore, worthy of respect and compassion. This is not just a case of seeing God in all of those around us but also in ourselves; in this way, the divine in all of us connects. Human dignity comes from being human, not from what a person does or who they are. By studying the mission of MWIA and recognising the mission we can accomplish in our community, we create opportunities to connect with the divine in each person.
The accepted dignity of the person then flows through to two more concepts – subsidiarity and participation. Being a Loreto school, giving a hand to anyone that needs it is very important, as is lending an ear for their voices to be heard and their opinions to be considered. Whenever we decide to help others, we think through the lens of subsidiarity and participation. We learn about these aspects in class; for many, it is a concept that might be tricky to comprehend. We understand it in its simplest form by saying that it is not the voices or the actions of those helping that should stand out but the ones of those in need of help. Examples may be when we play sports – we want to let other players take our turn, pass the ball, and let them have the shot. Actions like this lift the spirit of the team. So too, can we lift others up through mission and service by ensuring their inclusion and participation in decision-making. Through unpacking Catholic Social Teaching, we have engaged in these principles and understand that while people will require help, we also need to give them a comfortable position in which they can incorporate their feelings, thoughts, and actions in the matter.
We have found that Religion at Loreto College Ballarat is taught with a modern approach that regenerates the traditional way religion has historically been taught. This method uses personal values and faith as the focal points of students’ learning. By teaching in such an inclusive way, students have more freedom to express their version of faith and curate their understanding of what they believe in. Our recent studies have opened up the possibility of what mission and service can be, moving beyond giving money or material goods to connecting, uplifting and empowering those in our community and seeing the presence of God in the people we interact with.
Many charities and events aid and unite the Ballarat community, including The Soup Bus Ballarat (after-dark food service to Ballarat’s homeless and less fortunate) and Ballarat’s Run for a Cause (fun run/walk with proceeds going directly to the Ballarat Christmas Appeal). Loreto is involved with many charities and local events. We have participated in events such as making Christmas baskets for the less fortunate, walkathons, the 4EK run, and more. Through the strength of our community and the guidance and values of Mary Ward, we hope to bring our new understanding of mission and service to what we do in the future. Through reflecting and contemplating the process of mission, we can do what the founding Loreto Sisters achieved instinctively.
Authors: Ella, Georgina, Mahima & Zoe, Loreto College Ballarat, Year 9 Religious Education