Four secondary schools for girls, all established by the Good Samaritan Sisters, are celebrating significant milestones in 2013.
Mater Christi College, Belgrave in Victoria and St Margaret Mary’s College, Townsville in Queensland are celebrating 50 years of education, while Seiwa College, Sasebo in Japan is celebrating 60 years and St Mary Star of the Sea College, Wollongong in New South Wales is celebrating a mighty 140 years.
While each college has experienced immense change over the years, the Good Samaritan ethos on which each was founded remains a constant. Each college was established at a particular time in history and in response to the unique needs of its community.
Mater Christi and St Mary Star of the Sea have already launched their anniversary-year events with Eucharistic celebrations in early February.
In her address to those gathered at the Mater Christi Anniversary Mass on February 2, College Principal, Mary Fitz-Gerald, acknowledged the many groups who had contributed to the life of the school over the past 50 years, but made particular reference to the “inspirational and educational legacy” of the Good Samaritan Sisters.
“Through the example of their lives and work, through the philosophy established across all our schools, the sisters have grounded our education work in the highest of moral purposes, to follow the teachings of Christ and live in compassion for others, to love all as neighbour,” she said.
In appreciation of the sisters’ contribution, a series of totem poles, each engraved with the names of sisters who have served at Mater Christi, have been placed in the grounds of the College for all to witness when entering.
“These names are registered not only as a sign of past work but importantly as an inspiration to future students, staff and parents, of the Good Samaritan tradition and its commitment to Benedictine values for good living,” explained Mary.
Frank Pitt, Principal of St Mary Star of the Sea College, Wollongong, also paid tribute to the Good Samaritan Sisters.
“We acknowledge in a very special way the Good Samaritan Sisters who have been wonderful educators, role models, mentors and guides to our community. We are deeply indebted to the sisters and we proudly carry on their fine tradition of excellent education for young women in the Good Samaritan Benedictine tradition,” he told The Good Oil.
When St Mary’s opened its doors in 1873, there were just 24 students enrolled. In 2013, the student population has grown to 1,125.
“We have educated many generations of young women over our 140-year history who have made significant contributions in the areas of business, government, medicine, education and industry,” said Frank.
“More importantly, we have educated outstanding citizens who have contributed to both their Church and their communities and for this we can be truly proud.”
St Mary’s 140th anniversary celebrations were launched during their opening Mass for the school year on February 7. On the day, students received a commemorative pin and an anniversary cupcake made in their school colours.
Throughout 2013, the College will hold a range of anniversary events, including return visits from past students, an open day, a reunion and a special end-of-year Mass.
Meanwhile, St Margaret Mary’s College, Townsville will launch their year-long schedule of anniversary events with a Mass on Friday February 22, celebrated by Bishop Michael Putney.
“This date will mark 50 years to the day that St Margaret Mary’s College was officially opened by Bishop Ryan,” said College Principal, Kathy Park.
“At this time, we will also welcome Good Samaritan Sister, Patricia Fawkner, who will address the students and staff.”
Several events are planned for 2013, including an International Women’s Day morning tea on March 8 when past students return to the College, and a weekend of activities on May 3 and 4. A commemorative book has also been published.
This year also marks 60 years since a small pioneering group of Good Samaritan Sisters began a school for girls in Sasebo, north of Nagasaki. The sisters responded to an urgent request from Archbishop Paul Yamaguchi to help rebuild the city after the atomic bomb killed much of its population at the end of World War II. Seiwa College was opened in 1953. Seiwa means “holy peace”.
Later this year, on November 9, Seiwa will host its main anniversary event. A number of Good Samaritan Sisters, including some who taught at the College, will be present for the celebration.