Window dedicated to Loreto Sisters in Portland
In appreciation of the Spiritual, Educational, Pastoral and Cultural contribution of the Loreto Sisters to the Parish and Community of Portland, Victoria.
The All Saints’ Parish Church in Portland, Victoria has paid tribute to the contribution of the Loreto Sisters in the local community by installing a special commemorative ‘Loreto Memorial Window’ in the church. The Loreto Window was dedicated at Sunday Mass on January 22nd by Bishop Paul Bird CSsR.
At the end of 2013, the Loreto Sisters bade farewell to Portland after 130 years of ministry. At that time, Fr Peter Sherman, then parish priest, suggested that a commemorative window be installed in the Church to recognise and honour the Loreto presence in Portland. The Sisters lived and served within the local community throughout those years teaching generations of children from Portland and further afield.
Mary Ward, the founder of the Loreto Sisters discovered her strength, light and protection in God, as do the Loreto Sisters today. This is well illustrated in the memorial window. There is the figure of a Loreto Sister standing calm yet strong – her strength comes from God. There is a lighthouse with rays shining out across the waters – the Sisters find their light in God. There is a ship sailing across the seas – in the perils of the journey from Ireland and in the perils of the journey of life, the Sisters found their protection in God.
A total of 550 hours of voluntary work went into bringing the window to its glorious completion. The window became the basis and focus of a community effort to raise funds for its construction. The Portland Lead Lighters’ Guild was commissioned to execute the window.
Great excitement gripped the protagonists of the window on the day it was finally placed in its permanent home near to the side door of All Saints’ Church. It was through this door that the Loreto Sisters had entered to their enclosure for Mass until well into the 20th century.
The artwork for the window was researched by Sharon Clark, a teacher at Bayview College. Together with her students, Sharon explored local images and incorporated these in her design in order to adequately express the Loreto story in Portland.
The courageous women of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto Sisters) are still inspired by the Holy Spirit to bring the gift of education to young people all over the world. It is hoped the window will inspire many generations to come, just as the Loreto Sisters inspired the lives of so many.
The elements of the window comprise:
- The lighthouse, so crucial in early days for safe navigation, was originally erected on Battery Point and later moved to its present site overlooking Nuns’ Beach – how appropriate.
- Nuns’ Beach was a favourite place to relax, or for an early morning swim for the Sisters.
- The wave is a representation of the Bonney Upwelling, a vital part of the circle of life in the waters around Portland. It is also evocative of another wave, the Gulf Stream, which carried Mother Barry and her companions out of Dublin Harbour to Australia.
- The figure of a Sister in 19th century habit, an inspiring sight that became so familiar to many.
- A Ship, the way by which the Sisters and scores of settlers came to these shores.
- All these images are surmounted by a bird in flight over the initials of the Institute – the protection of the Holy Spirit.
Contributions: Loreto Portland past students and Bayview teacher Julie Burns, All Saints’ Parish Church Greg Tait and Bishop Paul Bird CSsR.
Photos provided by Robin Scott, Loreto Province Archivist
Original Artwork, Sharon Clark & Students of Bayview College in 2013
Artwork for Lead Lighting by Phil Darby
Window Executed in 2016 By Portland Lead Lighters’ Guild
Installation: Jamie Cram Glass & Aluminium
Window Dedicated January 22nd 2017