These words are offered to the memory of Johanna Bambridge, head of Marymount International School, Paris, who died suddenly just days after the Conference ended. She was a vibrant, engaging, dynamic leader, whose energy, dedication and educational vision and expertise contributed so much to the success of our first conference as a global network.
Bogota, Colombia. The venue for our first conference of the Global Network of RSHM Schools. What better place for us to gather to celebrate our unity of purpose, our shared vision and mission as educators inspired and guided by our founders, Jean Gailhac and Mère St. Jean.
Eight-eight of us from three continents, three languages, eight countries, 19 cities and schools – all with a single purpose: to lead our children and young people to ‘life to the full in Jesus Christ’ . We spent four days together reflecting, sharing and living, not a dream, but rather a reality. Our Marymount Schools in Columbia – Bogota, Medellin and Barranquilla—along with the coordinating committee made up of representatives from all geographical areas of the network, had done tremendous work in the preparation of the Conference.
Our programme was a well-balanced mixture of input from prestigious speakers, discussion opportunities, group work in geographical areas, sharing life stories from the RSHM, and reflective and joyful liturgies to centre us. A very special treat was the excursion to Monserrat where we went up in an almost perpendicular ride in the cable car to visit the shrine and then to enjoy a most beautiful meal in the restaurant reserved just for us. It was an evening to remember. One moment of particular significance was the ‘missioning ceremony’ for the new co-ordinating committee – representatives from both the Americas and Europe – who will work together in the planning and preparation of the future annual heads’ meetings, and support the geographical area holding the next conference in two years’ time.
Let me share just a few insights from our speakers:
“Education is about learning to love, how to love, how to understand values and customs and to bring harmony to our lives”. “The beatitudes are our key performance indicators”. (Sister Rosamond Blanchet, General Superior of the RSHM)
“Start to feel uncomfortable about things. . . only the best for the poor”. “Be a great dreamer but most of all be an outstanding doer”. (Catalina Escobar CEO at Foundation Juanfe)
“I believe that everyone potentially has a leadership gift. . . we have to find what it is and develop it.” “Jesus is the reference for our conversation on leadership”. (Jose Leonardo Rincon SJ., Dean at the Faculty of Education Pontifcia Universidad Javeriana.)
Our next heads’ meeting is in Fatima, Portugal, where we will focus on our spiritual development and have time and space to deepen our own personal commitment and dedication as educators within the RSHM tradition.
The second conference of the Network will be held in Los Angeles, CA, from the 28 June to 2 July 2019.
Perhaps the most moving and amazing and absolutely wonderful experience of the conference was the realisation for us – RSHM and lay heads and staff – is that we have in all our lay leaders and staff the ‘living stones’ upon which our RSHM vision will build and flourish.
Mary Jo Martin RSHM, Network Committee Coordinator