Mary Ward Day 2020
Students recreate Mary Ward’s feats of courage, resilience and faith for Mary Ward Day, 2020.
Inspired by Mary Ward’s own love of languages, and by her many incredible acts of bravery, faith and determination, a number of St Mary’s students took up the challenge to produce a portfolio of their own creative writing on Mary Ward Day, 2020.
Having learnt more about the various key events in our spiritual foundress’s life as a devoted Catholic and champion of women in education and the Church, groups of girls from all different years were allocated select periods from which to draw inspiration for their own work.
With only an hour in which to produce their piece, and with free reign to choose the genre in which it would be written, the girls worked fervently to plan, draft and edit their final creative product while being supported by Mr Gardner, Mr Simmons and Mr Ryan-East.
From her terrifying experience in a blazing house fire to her arduous treks across the Alps to Rome, the five, collaboratively-produced pieces chart moments in Mary Ward’s life from her early youth through to her enduring legacy today.
Thought-provoking and beautifully crafted, this insightful collection of students’ work (below) also reminds us of the power of faith and the endurance of the human spirit in difficult times. The work is also now displayed in Rookwood as an integral part of an extended time line of Mary Ward’s incredible life.
Mr M Ryan-East
Head of English
The Fire, 1595
By Alice (U4), Alice (L5) and Maisy (L5)
Figures were just about visible in the roaring blaze. The orange flames licked at the bottom of their nightgowns, yet they appeared unfazed and calm, a contrast to the yells and sound of collapsing timber around them. They were kneeling, in a praying position, hands clasping the blurry outline of the Rosary. They attracted looks from the passing people; they paused in their work to stare, fixated, at the young women chanting the Hail Mary, voices raised so as to be heard. Their isolated island of the floor was still intact, a personal island, only scorched around the edges where searing flames had dared to triumphantly dance. They paid no attention to the crumbling house surrounding them. Their prayers were far more important than their lives.
A sudden voice boomed through the night, over the sound of burning and the sound of the prayers. The words were indistinguishable, and a tall man bounded through the receding wall of fire, reaching out to grab the praying girls.
Wings of Wisdom, 1605
By Rose (L5) and Madeleine (L5)
They say that wisdom comes with age.
But this is a lie to fit their rage.
They break my wings, so I won’t fly,
Hoping that my faith will simply die.
Wars are raging on and on,
But a storm is coming from above.
This fight with man soon must go
If it’s God’s love, we wish to know.
They expect me to conform, to fit their carefully moulded plan,
To leave behind my faith and love, for I am NOT a man.
They try to grind me down, they beg and shout and plea,
But I am Mary Ward and there’s nothing stopping me.
My Vocation, 1611
By Anstice (L3), Scarlett (U4) and Matilda (U4)
The pillow was cool beneath my head. The heavy quilt pinned my limbs to the straw mattress. My head pounded with every heartbeat and my pallid forehead was slick with sweat. The only thing that I could do, without immense pain, was lie still on my back. Light bounced off the matt, scarlet and cream floor, as my brown eyes skimmed across it. A single wooden chair sat beside my bed, a sad-looking thing with spindly legs. An image of the Virgin Mary looked down on me, vigilantly watching. Concerned voices echoed throughout the hall, just outside my chamber, but they soon passed on. Again, I was alone.
As the days wore on, I became weaker and weaker. I knew that there wasn’t much life left for me. I had lost all sense of time and I had lost all sense of hope. I gave in to what was happening to me. As I started to slip into my last sleep, I thought I saw a light flash across the room. The golden beam became an uncontrollable light. I instantly knew that this incandescent glow was an image from God. The turmoil in my mind slowed, and began to clear. I knew that I would survive and that Christ had given me a sign to carry on with the work that I was doing. I knew that this was my vocation. I knew this was my life.
Across the Alps, 1621
By Fleur (U5), Jamie (L4) and Jocasta (U5)
We left Brussels 34 days ago and now we should leave Switzerland in a few days’ time.
Today it snowed so much I couldn’t see anything for around an hour. We managed to lose our way and as the storm worsened we knelt on the snow and asked God for his help. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a bright shining star that showed me the way to our next meal.
I am so thankful for our loyal and faithful friends who help each other keep faith in our hearts. This morning the sunrise was particularly beautiful and I felt at peace with the world. The pink sky reflecting off the snow reminded me of my mother’s saying: red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning. Of course, as my mother was faithful to God throughout her life, she was right. This afternoon, a blizzard hit us!
We carried on regardless as the snow crept into our shoes but the Rosary beads were warm against our skin reminding us of God’s love for us. We had to hold onto our hats as the wind constantly tried to take them away from us.
Although today was beyond difficult, our faith in God is just as strong, if not stronger than it has ever been, and our faith in our mission to bring about a change to the way that women can serve God keeps us motivated.
Mary Ward’s Legacy, 1585-present
By Rosie (L5) and Calypso (L6)
A woman who lived with sincerity,
This was Mary Ward’s legacy.
Her ideas that seemed phantom,
She sought them for freedom
But kept her unwavering fidelity.
Though the world was full of malice,
To fears she paid no notice;
To her followers she would tell:
‘Do good and do it well,’
And thus she achieved her justice.