The Sisters of the Good Samaritan can’t be accused of avoiding the ‘elephant in the room’: they are an ageing community of women. In fact, it could be said they are embracing their reality and equipping themselves to respond proactively.
Recently the congregation appointed experienced health care professional, Marie Mohr, to assist them at a strategic policy level on matters related to the health and well-being of all their sisters, not just the elderly.
But this recent appointment is not the first initiative taken by the congregation in this area. Marie’s role will complement an existing team of hands-on health care consultants and sisters with a pastoral care responsibility for elderly or sick sisters.
“The idea of an overall Co-ordinator of Health and Well-Being is to have a competent professional assisting us in putting into place sound strategies and directions for the well-being of all our sisters,” explained Sister Clare Condon, Congregational Leader.
“We need professional advice on trends in aged care and how we can best respond to our sisters as they age in place.”
According to current statistics, 62 per cent of the congregation are aged between 50 and 79, and 38 per cent are over 80 years.
It’s Clare’s hope that she and her council “can continue to put in place best practice so that the sisters are living active and vital lives as they live out their religious commitment for the service of humanity and the Church”.
Marie Mohr began in the newly-created congregational position, National Co-ordinator of Health and Well-Being, in January this year. She’s enthusiastic about the role and believes the congregation should be commended for acknowledging and responding to the “ageing factor”.
“Having a focus on health and well-being will create an opportunity for the congregation to gain a better understanding of factors associated with healthy ageing, and hopefully, to develop strategies to maximise the quality of life for all the sisters going forward,” she said.
While Marie will be based in Melbourne, she will travel to different parts of Australia to meet with sisters when needed.
“There will also be opportunities to liaise with the sisters living in the communities located in Japan, the Philippines, Kiribati and East Timor,” said Marie.
“Over these past weeks I have already had the opportunity to meet with a number of sisters who have been on holidays away from their overseas locales and each has provided me with a snapshot of their lives and enabled me some consideration of what health and well-being issues that may arise.”
Marie brings a wealth of expertise and experience to her role. Over the last three decades she has worked as a health care professional in a number of hospitals in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria. She began in general nursing, then moved into midwifery and later nursing administration and leadership roles. In the last ten years she has focused on aged care rehabilitation and palliative care issues.
In 2010, after completing a Masters Degree in Public Health, Marie was looking to move away from the hospital health care scene. When she heard about the new position with the Good Samaritan Sisters, she jumped at the chance to apply.
“It was a step away from hospital health care [and] had the elements of community care which I was looking to move into,” she explained.
For Marie, the ethos and values of the Good Samaritan Sisters were also an attraction. “[This] was something I was keen to connect with.”
Having worked with the Sisters of Charity at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Marie is no stranger to the culture of religious congregations. She is also the niece of Good Samaritan Sister, Josie Logan – her first introduction to the Good Sams – and for nearly three years, Marie has been on the board of The Good Samaritan Inn in Melbourne, which provides emergency accommodation and support for women and children in need.
“[This] has been a fantastic opportunity to see first-hand the commitment and dedication these women have in bringing to life the values and spirit of the Good Samaritan story,” she said.