Together while apart – gratitude, joy and connection

It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful” – Brother David Steindl-Rast

Never has this quotation been more apt than in 2020 as our community, our nation and the world face a global pandemic. The challenges of isolation, remote learning and fear of the unknown are not typically conducive to ‘joy’, but our girls found joy through gratitude, care and connection. The capacity for gratitude that the students, staff and our families have shown has meant that we have emerged more connected and strengthened through shared adversity.

The Year 12 ‘We’re All in This Together’ Virtual choir, filmed separately but sung in unison, became a joyful Learn@Home anthem of support and resilience. The online Gratitude Lunch connected students and families in a celebration of thanks. In a time when we all needed some reassurance, the positivity associated with gratitude has been the best antidote to isolation.

Savouring the moment becomes increasingly important in times of uncertainty. Mindfulness expert, author Eckhart Tolle expresses this as being ‘at ease in the here and now and at ease with yourself’. Through appreciation of what is good in our lives now, we can avoid the temptation of always looking to future happiness, while forgetting to experience happiness in the present. Students have reflected on some wonderful examples of savouring these moments; walking in the sunshine, playing with a pet, shooting hoops with a sibling, unplugging or lazing over a jigsaw. 

The Blue Ribbon Spirit@Home sessions enabled the students to be ‘together’ while ‘apart’ but they also reached out to connect with the broader community. Girls drew rainbows of hope, wrote positive affirmations in the windows of their homes, wrote letters to children in hospital, or residents in aged care facilities.

The Art Challenge, ‘This is Me’ devised by the Art and Design Captains Isabel Simmons and Lara Nattrass, encouraged and invited the girls to create a collage representing themselves, appreciating the small things. 

The ability to adopt a positive outlook, irrespective of challenges, is a message we strive to send students in the weThrive: Wellbeing@St Catherine’s Program. Self-reflection and moments of joy have armed the girls with a renewed sense of compassion and appreciation. 2020 will not only be remembered for hardship but for gratitude and resilience.



Tolle, Eckhart, 2001, The Power of Now, Hodder Headline (Sydney, NSW Australia)

Ms Merran O'Connor

Deputy Principal, Student Wellbeing

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