Love in Action

In 2008, the College commissioned Melbourne sculptor, Lis Johnson, to create a piece of sculpture for Star’s 125th birthday. Principal who commissioned the work, Sandra Diafas, reflects on the sculpture, "Love in Action" ...

It has been said that great art has the ability to draw forth from the viewer an almost visceral response. It can seem we are drawn physically into the piece and find a resonance with it in the very depths of our heart and soul. 

Such art helps us to transcend our ordinary understandings and interpretations of life and give us new, stronger, even more vibrant, perspectives. It magnifies for us the story it seeks to tell, glorifying it, and transforming us through our viewing. We gasp in surprise and awe. We tremble at the clarity and audacity of the work. We respond joyously, ‘Yes, that is the way it is!’

For our 125th anniversary, we commissioned a Melbourne sculptor and artist, Lis Johnson, to create a piece for the College that was to embody the spirit of the women of Star of the Sea: the quiet courage and gentle compassion of Nano Nagle, the tenacious fortitude and vision of the founding Sisters, the selfless dedication and endless energy of the many teaching Sisters and lay women who followed them and, finally, the talents, enthusiasm and hope of the wonderful students of this great College. 

In Lis’s work, "Love in Action", we were given a gift of such beauty, it quite literally took our breath away when we first saw it. Here in her lovingly crafted sculpture can be found the gentle but determined gaze of Nano and her Sisters, looking steadfastly, not only at the work of their own times, but focused, too, off into the future as always - searching, longing, dreaming of the possibility of a better, more just world for all.

Anchoring these powerful women, giving them sustenance and stability, we also see the reflection of a tradition and history stretching back through millennia, beyond the life and times of the first foundation to a human man who said simply love one another as I have loved you. 

Enveloped in the strong embrace of the woman, we cannot but help be reminded that while this is the story of a particular woman, it is also the story of all women. 

While we marvel at the artist’s ability to bring to life our story so wonderfully, we are also aware that the story itself has provided the inspiration for her work. 

For just as great art moves us in ways we can only begin to imagine, the artist must also be moved by the birth of her creation. She must feel the story running through her veins, watch it animate her hands and lead her on to bring to life the expression of our treasured legacy, the story of the women of Star ... and so we have our 125th birthday gift, our Love in Action. 

Each time I pass her, I am reminded of the way today’s young women of Star gather around her to chat, to share food and companionship, to touch her and talk to her, to gaze at her in silence and in prayer. 

Most of all I am reminded of how lucky we are at this College to have such an amazing story to tell. 

How blessed we are to have had such a treasure bestowed upon us as the story of yet another talented woman is added to the many pages of the history of Star of the Sea College.