A celebration was held last month (May 27) to acknowledge the century-long contribution of the Good Samaritan Sisters to the community of Port Fairy in south-western Victoria.
Around 200 people gathered for a Mass of Thanksgiving at St Patrick’s School Hall, Port Fairy, with the Bishop of Ballarat, Paul Bird, Parish Priest, Bill van de Camp, and several clergy from surrounding districts.
“It was a tremendous celebration,” said Sister Camilla Gall, who played an important role in making the event happen. She said it was “marvellous” to have so many people present, including current and past parishioners, and students and staff of St Patrick’s.
“There were people from all around the district and from Melbourne,” she said.
Seventeen Good Samaritan Sisters, a number of whom were former staff or students of the school, travelled from near and far to attend. Representatives of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny, who staffed St Patrick’s for six years before the Good Sams’ arrival in 1914, also attended the celebrations.
Born and raised in Port Fairy, Sister Camilla has lived and ministered in the town since 2005. The people and the place are very dear to her. For many months prior to the centenary event she had been involved in the planning and had worked tirelessly on an historical display. But she said the celebration would not have been possible without the staff and students of St Patrick’s, who hosted the gathering and were instrumental in making it such a memorable occasion.
In her address to those gathered, Congregational Leader, Sister Clare Condon, expressed gratitude to the Port Fairy community for their “great support and love” of the Sisters over the years.
She highlighted the important contribution of Victoria’s western district communities to the life of the Good Samaritan Sisters, noting that a significant number of women from these communities had joined the congregation.
Sister Clare also apologised and sought forgiveness for any past hurts experienced. “Like all people, we sisters are not perfect, and in 100 years there is a high probability that some hurt or pain has been experienced by some people,” she said.
“On behalf of the congregation, I apologise for any hurts and seek forgiveness.”
Sister Clare thanked the current community of sisters in Port Fairy – Sisters Claire Dwyer, Camilla Gall, Marie Jones, and Maureen Stone – for their faithfulness in continuing the mission of the Good Samaritan Sisters in the area.