A group of former Good Samaritan schools is seeking to explore new ways of honouring their schools’ tradition and heritage by promoting the Good Samaritan charism among students and staff through a partnership with Good Samaritan Education.
The schools, both primary and secondary, which were established or run by the Good Samaritan Sisters, but are now operated within diocesan school systems and as regional colleges, are keen to re-connect with their Good Samaritan history, which they believe is an important part of their story and identity. Some schools are new ones with a Benedictine Good Samaritan association through their name or patron.
A preliminary meeting between a small group of the schools and Good Samaritan Education was held last week and established a steering committee to explore the possibilities for deepening engagement.
Good Samaritan Education (GSE) is the ecclesial community that the Sisters of the Good Samaritan established in 2011 to carry their charism forward in Catholic education, and Executive Director, Leonie Keaney, said GSE is delighted to look at ways of sharing that charism.
“In my experience, schools which have a tradition with a congregation often do find it important to retain something of the history and tradition of that congregation because it adds meaning to their story and becomes a framework for them to work in for the future,” she said.
Leonie said the move towards strengthening connections with the Good Samaritan charism began many years ago in some cases.
“A lot of the schools which were previously owned by the Sisters and run by them over the years became diocesan schools or regional colleges,” she said.
“Often, they retained the story of the school’s founders and in many cases the Sisters have remained attached in various ways to the schools, but in other cases the Sisters have physically moved on and the connection has weakened over the years.
“So it’s wonderful really that these schools have reached out and said they’re keen to maintain and strengthen the connections.”
Leonie said GSE runs “a very rich” program of activities for its schools to help promote the story and charism of the Good Samaritan Benedictine tradition which it could share with the former Good Samaritan schools.
“It’s very early days yet in what I imagine will be a one- to two-year project to get this relationship established so that it is set up in a sustainable way,” she said.
“So we’ll be looking for advice from these schools about what opportunities they’re looking for and how we might advance what has been a loose arrangement for some time perhaps into something more formal. It’s exciting.”
One of the school principals to attend last week’s meeting was Daniel McInerney of Casimir Catholic College in Marrickville, a school whose history goes all the way back to the 1880s when the Good Samaritan Sisters founded St Brigid’s School.
Later, in the 1930s, the parish priest, Father Casimir Maguire, invited the De La Salle Brothers to join the Sisters in staffing the school and then, in 1938 to establish De La Salle College. The two schools existed side-by-side until the early 1980s when they were amalgamated into Casimir College, a new co-educational Year 7 to 12 college, and its governance was transferred to the Archdiocese of Sydney.
Daniel said the school has been keen for some years to strengthen its links with its founders.
“The opportunity this gathering provides to retain and strengthen the charism is vitally important for me as principal of Casimir,” he said.
“The La Sallians still have a significant connection with the school. We’re involved in a formal meeting process with them and a network of schools and that’s great.
“But with the Good Samaritans we don’t have as much input and so we are very keen to explore ways we can keep their charism alive in our school and to give both our staff and students a deeper connection with the Good Sams.
“We want to acknowledge the work these founding sisters did and the fact that their story goes on today. It’s a good story to share and I’m looking forward to meeting with Good Samaritan Education and the other schools to see what we can do together. It’s full of potential.”
The meeting of a group of six schools with GSE, both primary and secondary and from four states, was held on June 14-15, under the theme of “Sharing our story”.
“The group left the meeting with a commitment to meet again before the end of year and clarify about the focus and purpose of the partnership that may emerge, based on invitation, connection, formation,” Leonie said.