October 2018

Immersion experiences bearing fruit long afterwards

Students and staff at St Scholastica’s College, Glebe, in Sydney who have undertaken immersion experiences with ministries of the Good Samaritan Sisters are helping to support those ministries when they return home with some innovative fundraising initiatives.

Recent fundraisers, including “Monday Soup for the Good Samaritan Kinder School” and “Scarf Day”, have been simple in nature, but effective in sharing the fruits of immersion experiences to Good Samaritan ministries in the Philippines and Santa Teresa in Central Australia.

Fran Vella, Head of Mission at St Scholastica’s College, said the immersions have a big effect on those who take part in them.

“The staff and students come back from these immersion experiences to places like Santa Teresa or the Philippines or Kiribati, with a real engagement with the wider community and the ministries of the Good Sams, and they want to share that,” she said.

“In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the final instruction to ‘Go and do likewise’ is a real focus here at the College and that is what is happening with these various fundraising initiatives, encouraging the staff and students to engage with the parable and the Good Samaritan charism.”

Apart from the “Monday Soup” and “Scarf Day” initiatives, the staff this year got a team together for the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival after some had joined a bigger Good Samaritan team last year. The impetus came from staff-member Leanne Palmer who went on an immersion last year. Funds raised went to the Good Samaritan Foundation which helps fund Good Samaritan ministries in Australia and overseas.

Some students also volunteer for the Good Samaritan Foundation, assisting with the Foundation’s communication and social media presence.

Rosemary Burton, a staff member at the College has been on two immersions to the Philippines, where she spent time with the sisters at the Good Samaritan Kinder School and the Good Samaritan Outreach Centre in Bacolod.

“They did have a big impact on me,” she said. “Especially going back the second time and seeing how much more established it’s all become. The development of the centre, the school, the feeding program has grown so much because they’ve constantly listened to the needs and responded in different ways.”

Rosemary returned to Sydney thinking of ways to “do a bit more” to help the Good Samaritan ministries in the Philippines.

“I remember coming back and looking out the window of our staff room, which overlooks the [Glebe] tramsheds and seeing several staff walking by holding cups of hot soup. And I thought, ‘They must’ve paid $10 for that’,” she said.

From there, the idea for “Monday Soup for the Good Samaritan Kinder School” was born.

“I just thought I’d make soup and bring it in myself and sell it with some bread for $5, and that would be great,” she said. “But what’s happened is that everybody has got right behind it and lots of people offered to help cook the soup.

“So, last year we cooked and sold the soup over a nine-week period and finished with a fundraising luncheon, raising about $1000 to send to the Philippines.

“This year we repeated it and raised over $1600 and the girls also took part, with the hospitality class contributing about $300 from cooking soup and selling it in the playground.

“We’re going to send $1000 to the Kinder School and the rest to the Outreach Centre to support the work of Sister Anne Dixon with the ministry of the feeding program, as well as visits to an orphanage and the local prisons.

“It is just a small initiative that has helped raise funds for the work in Bacolod and raised awareness amongst the Schols’ staff. An added bonus has been the great display of generosity from many staff members who have volunteered to cook or purchased soup every week. We as a community have gained from the action too.”

Year 11 student Grace Mitchell, who participated in last year’s Santa Teresa immersion program in Central Australia, said the experience was life-changing.

“My friends and I all really loved it,” she said. “It made me think of Australia differently, to realise that the Santa Teresa community is so different to life in Sydney, but it’s still part of Australia and these people are our fellow Australians, but it’s a part of Australia we don’t hear a lot about.”

Grace said a highlight of the immersion was spending time with the women working at the Santa Teresa Spirituality Centre.

“It was amazing seeing all the women painting the traditional paintings. It also surprised me that they were talking in their Arrernte language. It made me realise that this language and this traditional culture is still alive.”

Grace said the impact of the immersion experience prompted her and her friends to consider ways they could help the Santa Teresa community.

“The women at Santa Teresa make beautiful scarves, but the place they do it in doesn’t have a lot of ventilation so they use an expensive eco-dye, which is better for them and the environment,” she said.

“One of my friends, Erin, came up with the idea of a scarf day at school, in which the girls would wear a scarf to school and bring in a coin donation.”

The students raised $500 to send to the women of Santa Teresa, and they hope to do more for the community in the future.

“We want to continue giving back to that community because we’ll never ever forget the experience we had there.”

The Good Oil

‘The Good Oil’, the free, monthly e-journal of the Good Samaritan Sisters, publishes news, feature and opinion articles and reflective content which aims to nourish the spirit, stimulate thinking and encourage reflection and dialogue about contemporary issues from a Good Samaritan perspective.

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