Over 180 Sisters of the Good Samaritan will converge on Sydney this September for their congregation’s twenty-fifth chapter gathering, an important event in the life of a religious congregation.
“The chapter gathering happens every six years and is a source of unity and formation, of collaboration and participation for each of us and for the congregation as a whole,” said Good Samaritan Sister Veronica McCluskie, Chair of the Chapter Communications Committee.
“It is a time of reviewing our life and mission as well as establishing direction for the future, all of which is done in response to the social reality of the time and in fidelity to our heritage and tradition.”
While the chapter gathering will happen over eight days from September 25, preparation for the chapter began on July 11 last year, the Feast of St Benedict, when Good Samaritan Superior, Sister Clare Condon, called on all sisters “to be awakened afresh to our charism and heritage which is entrusted to each and every one of us”.
“The time leading up to the chapter gathering is one of reflection on how we are living who we say we are,” said Veronica.
“There is always the call to live our lives as authentically as we can.”
All professed Good Samaritan Sisters are eligible to participate in the September chapter gathering but some choose not to because of age, health or an inability to travel.
In a letter sent to all sisters earlier this year, Clare explained how sisters who are unable to attend the gathering can still participate in the chapter processes.
“The first and most foundational form of participation in the chapter processes is through prayer, which lies at the heart of all chapter processes,” she said.
“While all of us participate in the chapter in this way, it is of particular significance to those of us who are frail or in poor health.”
Clare also said sisters not attending the gathering could participate in pre-chapter gathering processes through reading, reflection and discussion at area community meetings.
For those sisters attending the chapter gathering in September, each will have the opportunity to speak and listen to others.
“It is a time of deep and prayerful listening to each other and where the Spirit is calling us,” said Veronica.
“The chapter calls us all to awareness of our responsibility to grow as individuals and as community. There is sometimes pain, there is sometimes joy. There is fun, ‘sister-ship’, prayer and hard work as we come to terms with our reality and our direction into the future.
“There is always hope and confidence in the guidance of the Spirit,” she said.
The two facilitators appointed to help guide the chapter process are Lauretta Baker RSJ and Kathleen Hughes, both well known to many religious women and men throughout Australia.
Lauretta, a Sister of St Joseph (Lochinvar), has extensive experience as a process facilitator with religious congregations, not-for-profit organisations, educational facilities at both school and system levels, diocesan agencies and small neighbourhood groups. She has been involved in education at secondary and tertiary levels and is the current leader of her congregation.
Kathleen is a management consultant with more than 15 years experience in private practice. A specialist in the community sector, she has a unique practical understanding of the challenges facing not-for-profit, community and Church organisations. Over the years Kathleen has helped many such groups to set and achieve their goals, to grow, to change, and to operate more effectively with a focus on the future.
The chapter gathering will be held at St Scholastica’s in Glebe, NSW, from September 25 to October 2, 2011.