“All should be called for counsel because God often reveals to the younger what is best.” – Rule of Benedict 3:3
Good Samaritan Education’s Prophetic Voices initiative provides students with a platform for dialogue and discernment to explore causes, projects, and issues they are passionate about, embodying Good Samaritan Benedictine tradition with the aim of promoting ongoing dialogue across the whole GSE community.
Following the success of the initial Prophetic Voices forum as part of GSE’s Triennial Conference last year, the program was expanded to consist of three online student forums that culminated with a two-day in-person gathering at Mt Carmel Retreat Centre in Varroville, NSW, in July. This gathering was the first time that students representing each of the 10 GSE schools had come together in-person in many years.
“It’s really good that we can all come together because we have all been working so hard on our projects and how we can change the world for the better by connecting through Prophetic Voices,” Lourdes Hill College participant Hannah said at the Varroville event.
The program embedded the GSE formation theme for 2023, the Year of Neighbour through the lens of Humility and Conversatio throughout.
During the program, selected students from each of the 10 schools showcased their school-based social justice initiatives so that students can learn from each other and their local projects. The program is student driven; it is the students that chose the topics. They then receive expert input on a chosen issue at each forum for them to discuss and together discern a response in the form of a position statement.
The three issues chosen for 2023 were:
- First Nations: Country, Connection and Custodianship
- Homelessness: Encounter beyond financial aid
- Diversity: Human dignity
At the gathering in Varroville students undertook to articulate their collective voice, which was developed with the assistance of the three guest speakers who worked with the students over the year: Brooke Prentis, Beck Ronkson (along with Milkcrate Theatre), and Benjamin Oh.
“It was really good to work with Brooke who is an Aboriginal theologian and having her perspective, especially coming from an academic such as herself it helped portray in a clear and concise way what we were trying to say but didn’t have words for,” said St Mary Star of the Sea College student Hannah, who was a part of the First Nations writing group.
The presentation of these final statements provides an incredible opportunity inviting further dialogue and discernment on topics close to the hearts of the students and information for our entire community.
“The biggest highlight has been watching the writing teams collaborating with each other to try and address particular issues and looking at what are realistic things they can do as students within our GSE schools to make a difference in those particular areas,” said Adrian Hicks, the Acting Deputy Dean of Mission at Mount St Benedict College.
As part of the program, all students spend the second morning at Mater Dei School in Camden, where they were able to connect with more of the students and learn about the rich history of the site and legacy of the Sister of the Good Samaritan’s mission.
“It was very exciting to have all the students visit Mater Dei as it’s always been a place of welcome. It’s great that the other schools in the Good Samaritan Education community can come and explore and hang out with our students. It was a wonderful day,” said Jacqueline Gorey, the Leader of Mission and Vision at Mater Dei.
As the program drew to a close, the students reflected on how to share their learnings and experiences back in their school communities.
“Being in a nurturing environment surrounded by like-minded people, I think that it is the right environment to create young advocates that can facilitate change for these very important issues,” commented Jennifer from Mater Christi College.
Another student, Gabby from St Patrick’s College, shared this sentiment: “This whole Prophetic Voices experience has really opened us to other topics we may not have discussed, and I am looking forward to opening my mind up further.”
To read the full statements created by the students on the Good Samaritan Education website, click here.