Good Samaritan Sister Juniko Toaua makes her Perpetual Profession

There were joyful celebrations in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati earlier this month when Sister Juniko Toaua SGS made her Perpetual Profession as a Sister of the Good Samaritan.

Present at a special liturgy in Kiribati on 1 June were Congregational Leader Sister Catherine McCahill SGS, Congregational Council member Sister Meg Kahler SGS, along with Good Samaritan Sisters Veronica Griffith, Marie O’Shea, Donnabelle Ferrer and Agnes Farrugia.

Also attending were the Sisters of the Good Samaritan currently living in Kiribati, along with Juniko’s family and friends, and members of the local church community.

Sr Juniko Toaua reads her profession document. Photo: Sr Marie O’Shea SGS,

The Sisters of the Good Samaritan have been present in Kiribati for more than 30 years, and today there are two communities of Sisters, one in Abaokoro and the other at Temaiku.

They are engaged in a variety of educational, pastoral and community development ministries. These include running the Good Samaritan Early Childhood Learning Centre, teaching English at the local primary school, and catechetics, visiting the elderly, engaging in Lectio Divina in their ministries, providing cultural preparation for people who will take up seasonal work in Australia, offering pastoral care to patients at the Meeria Ward of the psychiatric hospital and those in prison, and supporting people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

The Sisters also remain active in the Kiribati Pastoral Institute (KPI), a diocesan pastoral institute, which offers a two-year course for young leaders.

Juniko is one of eight I-Kiribati Sisters at the current time, and one novice who is currently having community experience with the Good Samaritan Sisters at Bacolod in the Philippines.

In making her formal Admonition before Juniko was invited to take her perpetual vows, Catherine reinforced that this was a serious moment in Juniko’s life.

Sr Juniko places her document of profession on the altar. Photo: Sr Marie O’Shea SGS.

“Today, after many years of living among us, the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict, and years of preparation, you have declared that you are ready to commit yourself to our way of life for the rest of your life,” she said.

“This is a serious decision.

“We know that you have discerned your vocation and we have been with you on this journey. Now the community of Good Samaritan Sisters affirms that you are ready to make a life commitment. Our presence today, along with the prayers of all Good Samaritan Sisters in Japan, the Philippines and Australia, signifies our commitment to include you fully in the life of the Congregation and to support you as much as we can for the rest of your life. We trust also that you will contribute to the life of the congregation as fully as you are able for the rest of your life.”

Juniko said she felt “excited and nervous” about taking her perpetual vows, but confident in her vocation.

“My vocation is special for me, as I live with other Sisters in the community,” she said.

Sr Juniko Toaua SGS. Photo: Sr Meg Kahler SGS.

“I have the freedom to do God’s will. For example, I am free to help people. The most important thing is my relationship with God and the Sisters in the community.”

Juniko first came into contact with the Sisters of the Good Samaritan when she was studying at the KPI during 2009-10.

At the time of being received as a novice in July 2013, she said she wanted to become a Good Samaritan Sister because she wanted to “serve God by helping people”.

Speaking after taking her perpetual vows, Juniko said that initial attraction to the Good Samaritan mission continues to grow.

“Yes, it is a desire as I now become a Final Professed to expand that love to the people who are in need,” she said.

Juniko’s ministries in Kiribati include sharing Lectio Divina with prisoners as well as providing rehabilitation for prisoners nearing release.

“I have been drawn to that ministry in the prison,” she said. “I started visiting the prison in 2015 after I took my first vows in Australia, and I am thankful that is the place that I want to be.”

Sr Juniko Toaua SGS cuts the celebration cake. Photo: Sr Meg Kahler SGS.

Juniko is also hoping to expand her ministry to the families of victims of crime. “I think that they also need consolation, but I have not started it yet,” she said.

Juniko has completed university studies in Community Development, which assisted in her work with prisoners, and has also done the introductory unit for the Clinical Pastoral Education certification at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. Currently, she is studying a Diploma in Counselling through the University of the South Pacific.

As Juniko took her perpetual vows, Catherine encouraged her to take to heart the example of the Good Samaritan as presented in Luke’s Gospel and to take up Jesus’ invitation to ‘Go and do the same’.

Sr Kawi Arebonto SGS performs a traditional dance at the Botaki party. Photo: Sr Meg Kahler.

“Our founder, John Bede Polding, exhorts us to imitate Jesus, the kind Samaritan. You have been committed in your kindness to others. Over the journey of your life, I am sure there will be times when you need the kindness of a Samaritan – I hope that you will allow Jesus to show his kindness to you. I hope also that you will find kindness in your Good Samaritan community and amongst the people around you,” she said.

The ministries of the Sisters are supported by the Good Samaritan Foundation. Donations over $2 are tax deductible in Australia and can be made via the website.

The Sisters of the Good Samaritan have a community at Abaokoro in Kiribati. Photo: Sr Marie O’Shea SGS.