During a liturgy on Saturday, November 12, at Mount St Benedict Chapel, Pennant Hills, in Sydney, six women and one man, all from New South Wales, will be received as Oblates of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan.
By making this public commitment to deepen their spiritual lives in the Benedictine tradition, the seven candidates will join a 47-strong group of Good Samaritan Oblates living in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia.
Susan Stubenrauch said she’s “excited” about becoming an oblate. “I’m proud of the fact that I’m going to do it,” she said. “It’s taken me a few years, but I’m about to get there and I’m very, very happy about it.”
Susan first met the Good Samaritan Sisters in 2005 while participating in a spirituality program for teachers at Mount St Benedict Centre, Pennant Hills. Describing the experience as “the most amazing five days”, Susan decided to learn more about the Good Samaritan Sisters and their “common sense” Benedictine spirituality.
Since then, she has become more connected with the sisters and the life of the congregation, has attended retreats and been part of a Benedictine spirituality group in the Blue Mountains.
Susan said Good Samaritan-Benedictine spirituality resonates with her strongly. “Ever since I began this journey… I was quite amazed at how it encompasses everything I had already established as my own spirituality. In other words, it was like ‘coming home’,” she explained.
Now retired from teaching, Susan and her husband also live in community with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) in the NSW Southern Highlands. For most of each week they help to manage the congregation’s retreat centre at Douglas Park, while the remaining time is spent at their home in the Blue Mountains.
For Susan, making a public commitment and being connected to a particular community – in her case the Lawson sisters – is very important. “I see more in the future than now even, that I would go there for prayer a couple of times a week… and that it would really be the basis of my spiritual life up here in the Blue Mountains.”
Like Susan, Michael Slinn of Cherrybrook in Sydney’s north-west, values his connection with the Good Samaritan Sisters. In his case it’s with the community at Mount St Benedict Centre, Pennant Hills where he’s been on retreat and regularly visits the library. “I just feel really at home there,” he said.
Michael’s first encounter with Benedictine spirituality was about nine years ago when he and his wife were living as carers in a Larche community. During that “life-changing” year, a book called The Cloister Walk by US oblate, Kathleen Norris, made an impact on him.
“She’s a Protestant [who] had got away from her church-going and beliefs, and was drawn back in through her association with a Benedictine monastery in America,” explained Michael. Interested in what she wrote, he wanted to learn more.
Michael is a regular member of the Uniting Church in Cherrybrook, but on occasions he also likes to attend Mass at Pennant Hills. On one such occasion he learnt about Mount St Benedict Centre and the riches on offer there, such as the library, retreats and workshops. Then, after initially attending a monthly Benedictine spirituality group in the Blue Mountains for about a year, he joined a newly-formed group at Pennant Hills. His decision to become an oblate followed.
Michael finds Benedictine spirituality appealing. “It’s a fairly grounded way of living and thinking about life,” he said.
He believes that becoming an oblate will help him to integrate this spirituality in his life. “There’s a certain amount of discipline required in as far as the commitment is concerned and I think that will be good for me to actually make a public statement about that.”
Good Samaritan Sister and Director of Oblates, Veronica Griffith enjoys engaging with people like Michael and Susan “who are so appreciative of the opportunity to find a way of life that is meaningful for them, as well a community of sisters and friends to walk the journey with”.
She said it is “a privilege and a joy to share with them the various aspects of Good Samaritan-Benedictine life” and “so enriching to hear their wisdom and share in their insights”.
“I am delighted with the growth of the oblate movement and the sisters who are enthusiastically supporting the various groups and individuals across the states,” said Veronica.
The five other candidates who will be received as oblates on Saturday November 12, 2011 are Mary Cook (Wellington), Olive Douglas (Wentworth Falls), Maureen Scott (Wentworth Falls), Helga Schmidt (Hazelbrook), and Pauline Roach (Dulwich Hill).
The liturgy will be held at Mount St Benedict Chapel, Pennant Hills, commencing at 2:30pm.