July 2022

Good Samaritan community commits to Laudato Si’ Action Goals

The Sisters of the Good Samaritan have launched their seven Laudato Si’ Action Goals, designed to help them turn their long-time commitment to caring for creation into day-to-day practical actions at both a congregational and a personal level.

In a video outlining the goals, which was shared to the Laudato Si Action Platform, Congregational Leader Sister Patty Fawkner SGS said the Action Goals encompassed all of the Good Samaritan community and would assist in building on commitments already in place.

“As Good Samaritans, Sisters, Oblates, staff and ministry partners, we stand committed to ecological conversion. We made this commitment at our last Chapter Gathering in 2017, our response to Laudato Si’ and our deepening of earlier commitments to creation,” she said.

“As Benedictines, conversion of life is one of our vows. Ecological conversion, then, is a further expression of this vow at this time and with women and men everywhere who are committed to care of our common home.

“We commit ourselves and our resources to action. We will engage with and promote the Laudato Si’ Goals. We will share this commitment with many other people and organisations and are pleased to be involved in the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.”

Sister Catherine McCahill SGS, said the Sisters of the Good Samaritan Ecological Conversion Committee (ECC) had been working on developing the Action Goals over the past year.

“After we enrolled on the Laudato Si’ Action Platform last year we held some workshops with Sisters, Oblates and Partners in Ministry late in the year to look at this question of our actions and our goals,” she said.

“From those goals, we hope that over the coming months we will encourage individuals, communities, offices, and groups in the Good Samaritan world to make concrete commitments that pertain to their own situation.”

Catherine said that caring for creation was embedded in the DNA of the Good Samaritan community, which takes its impulse from the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Rule of St Benedict.

“As Good Samaritans we understand that the earth is our neighbour,” she said.

It was this understanding that drove the ECC in its development of the reflection video.

“We felt we needed to start off in our reflection with our love of and appreciation for creation,” Catherine said. “Because if we are in love with something, then we can work harder to protect it.”

Beth Riolo, a Good Samaritan Oblate from Wollongong, is also a member of the ECC and has been working with the Sisters on these issues for several years.

She has also been working in Wollongong diocesan schools since 2016, leading and supporting schools‘ response to the papal encyclical, and is also part of the schools’ working group for the Vatican Dicastery’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

“We’ve been on a journey of ecological conversion for seven years now,” Beth said.

Laudato Si’ was this amazing encyclical that Pope Francis brought out seven years ago, but then two years ago, he issued a call to concrete action and that’s when the Laudato Si’ Goals came into play.

“And the great thing is that it’s really a grassroots movement. Whatever positive steps people take in this area, it’s all good. It’s very contextual and invites people to take it up as and where they can.

“It’s the little daily actions that can make all the difference. Congregations like the Good Sams can do the big things like divest themselves of fossil fuels or invest in big infrastructure items like solar panels on their buildings, or, individually, they can take a KeepCup cup to their local coffee shop instead of using a throw-away cup.

“We have opportunities daily to make positive choices for the planet and in doing that, as part of the Good Samaritan family, we’re broadening our sense of who is our neighbour.”

Catherine said the ECC would be encouraging Good Samaritan communities to commit themselves to taking concrete action pertaining to the Congregation’s Laudato Si’ Action Goals and make them the focus of this year’s Season of Creation, which begins on September 1, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and ends on October 4, the feast of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology.

“But they don’t have to wait until then,” she said. “For instance, some Sisters have signed up to take part in Plastic-Free July, where they try to avoid plastics wherever possible for the month. It’s actually pretty hard to do, given all the packaging we come across in our daily lives, but it’s something they wanted to focus on.

“Another group of Sisters meets every second month to support each other in focusing on ethical consumption. Others may choose to focus on different things. But we hope everyone in our broader Good Samaritan community will be encouraged by these goals and by the video reflection to take some small step towards meeting our Laudato Si’ Goals and being a good neighbour to creation, which is really suffering on so many levels.”

The Sisters of the Good Samaritan Laudato Si’ Action Goals can be accessed here.

The Laudato Si’ Action Goals video reflection can be accessed below.

Debra Vermeer

Debra Vermeer is a freelance journalist working in both Catholic and mainstream media.

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