The Good Samaritan Foundation brings together people and resources to support the works and initiatives of the Good Samaritan Sisters to assist the needy in communities across Australia and the Pacific.
The Foundation’s Executive Director, Catherine Cresswell, said the past year had brought challenges and sadness for many people.
“Every program the Foundation supports gives practical meaning to the term ‘being neighbour’. This could mean providing a regular meal, a warm place to sleep or a chance for education,” Catherine said.
“We are grateful for your generous gifts and prayers, which make it possible to continue the life-giving work of supporting ministries in Australia, the Philippines, Kiribati and Timor-Leste.
“Our fundraising at this time of year is focused on the Christmas Toy Drive for children living in the Bacolod squatter settlements. Good Samaritan Sisters will be doing their best to deliver some joy to the children who have been so hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic yet, despite it all, keep smiling.”
If you would like to send them a small gift at Christmas you can donate via the Foundation’s website. In Australia, donations of $2 or more are tax deductible. To make a donation visit www.goodsamsfoundation.org.au
We hope you enjoy this snapshot of how Christmas will be celebrated in some of the ministries supported by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan Foundation.
Good Samaritan Inn, Melbourne
Good Samaritan Inn is a specialist service providing crisis, short-term and transitional accommodation and support for women, children and young people who are experiencing family violence or homelessness.
Felicity Rorke is the Executive Director of Good Samaritan Inn. “For women and families staying with us over the Christmas period we make an extra special effort to provide a celebration that is inclusive and full of warmth, good food and fun,” Felicity said.
“Despite what COVID-19 and the numerous lockdowns have thrown at our guests and staff, Christmas at the Inn will continue to be a large family celebration with a special lunch and dinner.
“A tree, decorations and food treats will be donated by the Country Women’s Association (CWA). Our staff will cook meals that will be culturally inclusive and shared communally over carols and festive joy.”
Thanks to the support of Buttercups, Rize Up and CWA there will be gifts for guests and staff on Christmas Day.
“As our guests continue to face uncertain times in their lives, and as the festive period is often a difficult time, our staff and volunteers will work hard to spread the Christmas joy to everyone staying at the Inn,” Felicity said.
In the Pacific nation of Kiribati
Sister Taabeia Ibouri SGS is from the Kiribati island of Kuria, where Christmas is usually celebrated in a church community.
“As Kiribati is one of the countries that is COVID-19 free, Christmas celebrations will continue as usual,” Taabeia said.
“People usually come together in a maneaba (a big building with a roof but no walls) for social gatherings. So on Christmas Day, people go to church followed by a celebration where everyone gathers for a special meal and gift giving.
“There is singing and dancing and sporting competitions such as volleyball or football.
“Both the Catholic and Protestant churches have this type of celebration for Christmas each year.”
Bacolod City, the Philippines
The Good Sams provide direct assistance to people living on the streets and in the squatter settlements of Boulevard and Mambuloc.
Sister Anne Dixon SGS said donations to the Good Samaritan Foundation have made a real difference to the lives of many people in Bacolod who live on the poverty line.
“The reality of families is that if we didn’t give them food and gifts they wouldn’t have Christmas celebrations,” Anne said.
“With more than 650 children and 350 families that we are hoping to assist, we have started our Toy Drive early this year.
“We made a short video about what the kids want for Christmas, and they enjoyed helping to make it.”
A special treat for families at Christmas is spaghetti – the pasta and the sauce. “We can buy this in bulk for P93 (about $3), a bargain!” Anne said.
“They also love tins of fruit and condensed milk to make fruit salad. Families who can’t afford spaghetti might have a loaf of bread and peanut butter. Otherwise it is the usual rice and fish.”
If you would like to donate to the Christmas Toy Drive visit www.goodsamsfoundation.org.au
Railaco, Timor Leste
The Good Samaritan Foundation provides education scholarships for more than 120 Timor-Leste children and young people.
Father Hyoe Murayama SJ in Railaco said last year the parish held a nativity crib-making contest in the lead-up to Christmas.
“All the neighbourhoods installed full-scale cribs with illuminations in the church yard. Many people visited and took pictures in the evening.
“The church was full for Mass on Christmas Eve. Many young people stood inside and outside the chapel.”
After Mass, the Sisters of St Paul of Chartres and their young novices performed Christmas carols.
“It was a very impressive moment as everyone was silent during the performance listening to the peaceful and harmonious praise of the newborn King,” Father Hyoe said. “The joy of the nativity is the victory of humility.”
Last year a state of emergency was declared just after Christmas due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and almost all the church activity stopped.
“This year has been full of trials and difficulties,” Father Hyoe said. “On Easter Sunday in April heavy rains flooded Dili and many other places. Although we were in lockdown, some people were forced to go out because of natural disasters and economic crises.
“However, since September, the coronavirus has subsided in Timor-Leste. Thank God for this blessed and lucky situation.
“We hope to celebrate the humble birth of our Lord again this year. We want to celebrate with renewed vigor and zeal, in solidarity with all anonymous Good Samaritans around the world.”
This article was published in the December 2021 edition of The Good Oil.