Going to the margins

Love Justice Compassion Hope
The story of Venerable Mary Aikenhead and the Sisters of Charity of Australia is one of courageous and audacious action in seeking to bring the love of Christ to those most in need.

From their very beginning their ministry has called them to those places and people often ignored by society, to those shunned, those existing in the shadows and at the periphery. In moving physically to the margins these women were inspired by a commitment to be women of their time – in new and different ways.

Ours is the privilege of belonging to this tradition that responds to need with spontaneity and joy, that knows no boundaries or limitations, which brings presence where it is needed, and action where it is called for. In honouring this tradition, we are called to be the voice for the unaccepted, to act in small and significant ways to heal, to be attuned to need wherever, whenever, and however it is manifested.

It is expected then, that a Mary Aikenhead Ministries’ college will give due prominence to the discernment of need in the college, local community and the world, conscious that this calls for the courage to be at the forefront of social discourse and action.

Underlying our tradition is the Jesus story as lived by women who recognised the need for new and innovative thinking, the possibility that there can be more, who realised that transformation of the world firstly requires personal transformation. We belong to their tradition of restlessness and movement, a heritage of personal and social critique, an active and disturbing presence in their world and times. It entails an expansiveness that imagines what should and could be and demands that we challenge social inertia through joyful service to a vision of justice for all.

Their inheritance for us, and their challenge to us, is to take risks in the pursuit of our ministry in education. We are called to courage and creativity in developing processes and programs in our colleges that are alive with the quest for new knowledge through new pedagogy, leading to outcomes that encourage and support the development of young women of curiosity, capable of living successfully in contexts of complexity and fluidity.

Our challenge is to look beyond the obvious, travelling to established boundaries and transcending them, to imagine and work to bring into being new paradigms, new ways of seeing, hearing, doing and being. A Mary Aikenhead Ministries’ college lives gazing to the edge, not glancing at the centre.

We are called to ensure that our schools pay appropriate and focussed attention to the signs of our times, to recognise emerging opportunities for growth and renewal and to move purposefully and willingly towards them.

Mary Aikenhead Ministries’ colleges are communities of excitement and exploration in learning and teaching, where collaborative investigation and consideration are encouraged, where the achievement of excellence is celebrated and the attainment of wisdom is a constant pursuit.

At the same time, they are communities that understand the particular fragility of those whose human needs and rights are least acknowledged by society, that recognise emerging injustice and inequity, and that move purposefully and willingly to redress exclusion and bring us to belonging. In doing so they recognise that those at the margins are to be found both at the edges of our society and within our own communities.

Our colleges are called to be communities at the margins, in both their respect for and support of the vulnerable, and their constant attention to the exploration of ideas and the creation of new knowledge and meaning.

Our colleges are communities:
driven by a sense of moral purpose exemplified by a strong commitment to the preferential option for the poor and a deep respect for all creation;
steadfast in their advocacy for justice on behalf of the vulnerable, the marginalised and the voiceless; and,
searching always for opportunities for hope directed towards justice, equity and the common good for all.

Catholic colleges under the stewardship of Mary Aikenhead Ministries will be known through:

Cultural Characteristics

  • vigilant and consistent attention to the signs of the times, creating cultures of restlessness that foster new and different ways of living our mission;
  • the creation of cultures of constant pursuit of justice and inclusion for those at the margins of our society, and commitment to solidarity with them;
  • the creativity and imagination they bring to the discernment of need and the identification and application of response;
  • sustained cultures of innovation and exploration that foster creativity and curiosity in learning and teaching; and
  • programs and processes that encourage achievement and excellence.

Catholic colleges under the stewardship of Mary Aikenhead Ministries may evidence this by:

Evidential Indicators

  • Promotion of the vision, mission and values of the college and Mary Aikenhead Ministries that recognise and reflect an understanding and application of the Gospel responding to the signs of the times;
  • Processes of review and reflection that evidence innovation and risk-taking in approaches to the design and delivery of learning, teaching and wellbeing;
  • Programs and policies informed by contemporary understandings and perspectives of global social, political and economic variables as they impact upon young women;
  • The pursuit of individual achievement and excellence in the consideration, development and implementation of all programs and policies;
  • Initiatives that identify those at the margins and encourage appropriate and respectful responses that alleviate injustice and advance inclusion.