The Good Samaritan Sisters’ 100 years of service to Catholic education in the Brisbane Archdiocese was celebrated recently with an acknowledgement of the gift the Sisters have been to the school communities and the bright future that lies ahead for Good Samaritan Education.
The occasion was marked with a special liturgy at St Columba’s Parish, Wilston, celebrated by Archbishop Mark Coleridge, and a cocktail reception hosted by the Archbishop and Good Samaritan Education and Brisbane Catholic Education.
The Gospel reading was the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and in his homily, Archbishop Coleridge gave thanks for the way the Sisters have lived the message of the parable in Catholic education over the last 100 years in Brisbane.
“The Sisters of the Good Samaritan have heeded the Rule of Benedict in listening with the ear of the heart, listening to the Word of God,” he said.
“In so doing they have become the Word of God for others.”
A highlight of the cocktail reception was the presentation to the Sisters of an etching by Brisbane artist Maureen Vander Zalm, entitled “A hand up”. The work claimed second prize recently in an art exhibition and competition held by the Cathedral of St Stephen Art Group, with the theme of the Good Samaritan, and Maureen was in attendance to see its presentation to the Sisters.
In her address, Pam Betts, Executive Director of Brisbane Catholic Education, described the work as “a thoughtful, yet powerful piece, requiring the viewer to interpret the simple depiction of two clenched hands”.
“When we saw this etching, we marvelled at its simplicity, a simplicity which says so much,” Pam said.
“What better way of capturing the essence of the Good Samaritan story, and indeed the story of the Good Samaritan Sisters, these women who have given a hand up to so many in the Brisbane Archdiocese.
“In Catholic education, we acknowledge with gratitude and great sincerity the work of all who have gone before us. These linked hands represent that partnership.”
Terry Creagh, Chair of Good Samaritan Education also spoke about the Sisters’ great gift for partnership in education and ministry.
“Over the past 100 years, the Sisters have always seen themselves as partners in ministry,” she said.
“We have seen sisters working in leadership and as teachers in Good Samaritan Schools, diocesan schools, and diocesan offices; we have observed partnerships with tertiary and theological education institutions, in social welfare through orphanages, women’s shelters, work with refugees, pastoral work in parishes, work with Indigenous communities, care for the sick and aged, advocacy work.
“Many of us would have witnessed their work where their fundamental love and respect for God’s creation and the ecology of the planet is shared; and we have been recipients of their wonderful appreciation of the arts.”
Terry said while Lourdes Hill College remains the only school in the Brisbane Archdiocese that is a Good Samaritan school, there are many schools, both primary and secondary, that have a Good Samaritan heritage, or base their ethos on the Rule of St Benedict.
She said that Good Samaritan Education, established in 2011 to be a new governance structure for the 10 Good Samaritan Colleges in five dioceses across three states, looks to the future with confidence, built on a solid inheritance.
“We treasure the past heritage that is ours, we commit to a present that is faithful to Catholic education and we plan for a future that will continue to build Christ-centred learning communities in the Good Samaritan Benedictine tradition,” Terry said.
Speaking in response, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Sister Clare Condon, said it was important to remember and to honour those sisters, “our ancestors, who 100 years ago, came to Brisbane as religious women and educators”.
“Their dreams and hopes are our heritage on which we now build our hopes and dreams today,” she said.
“That first group of women had no idea what their efforts would achieve. We need the same faith and courage, as we too do not know our future. We trust that God will lead and guide us into this unknown future.
“I thank Archbishop Mark, Pam Betts, Director of Brisbane Catholic Education and Terry Creagh, Chair of Good Samaritan Education, for this acknowledgement of the contribution of the Good Samaritan Sisters within the Archdiocese and for us to know that the charism of the Parable continues to live on in those schools commenced by the Sisters.”