The Sisters of the Good Samaritan have received approval to establish Good Samaritan Education, a new entity within the Australian Catholic Church to oversee the canonical governance of the congregation’s ten incorporated colleges.
On July 22 this year, then Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, in agreement with the Archbishops and Bishops of Melbourne, Brisbane, Wollongong and Broken Bay – dioceses where the ten Good Samaritan colleges are located – constituted Good Samaritan Education as a public juridic person (PJP).
This new PJP, to consist of at least 15 members, will be responsible for the oversight of the ethos, mission and stewardship of the ten colleges. It will be formally launched in Sydney on November 13, the Feast of all Benedictine Saints.
“This is an historic decision for the sisters and our partners in the ministry of education of the young,” said Good Samaritan Congregational Leader Clare Condon.
“The sisters and I are looking forward to this new direction and for the continuance and development of the Good Samaritan charism within each of the colleges.”
For the Good Samaritan Sisters, education of young people has been at the heart of their mission to the Church. In 1861, just four years after Archbishop John Bede Polding OSB founded the congregation, the first Good Samaritan school was established in Sussex Street, Sydney. Since that time the sisters have had a continual educational presence in Australia.
“In looking to the future we believe that our charism which we have shared with the laity who participate in our mission, can and will continue to enrich the five dioceses where the colleges are situated,” said Clare.
While the establishment of Good Samaritan Education follows four years of considerable planning, consultation and discernment by the sisters, the Good Samaritan Education Council and the ten college communities, it builds upon a foundation created 30 years earlier when, in response to the theology of Vatican II, the sisters inaugurated college boards and invited lay people to be more involved in the oversight and mission of their schools.
Clare said the theology of Vatican II about the Church as the People of God had continued to guide the development of Good Samaritan Education, but she also acknowledged that the congregation’s growing inability to provide sisters to oversee its colleges was a contributing factor.
Clare paid tribute to all who had helped to establish Good Samaritan Education, particularly the Good Samaritan Education Council under the leadership of Catherine Slattery SGS and executive support of Kay Herse.
“It has been a joy and privilege to be so closely engaged in this process of transition which will take our schools into a future focussed on claiming their Good Samaritan Benedictine legacy and providing students with the best possible educational opportunities,” said Good Samaritan Sister, Catherine Slattery.
“This is a time of wonderful energy and enthusiasm. As the sisters pass on the ‘baton’ of canonical responsibility for our schools, we recognise and rejoice in the baptismal vocation of our lay partners.”
Catherine said the establishment of the new PJP will have minimal impact on the day-to-day operation of the colleges.
The ten colleges will come under the jurisdiction of Good Samaritan Education at their board’s annual general meetings in April and May 2012. In the meantime, a group of prospective members will attend an information, formation and discernment weekend in Sydney from October 14-16.