By the early 1850s, he had decided that the best way to provide ongoing compassionate care for the women at the House of the Good Shepherd was to begin an Australian congregation of religious women.
This Refuge, established in 1841 by Mrs Blake and other Catholic women, continued under the care of the Sisters of Charity until the untimely death of two Sisters, left the work vulnerable.
In writing the first ‘Rules’ for the Congregation, Polding drew heavily on the ancient, but tried and true, Rule of St Benedict. Dating from the sixth century, this ancient Rule continues to speak to the spiritual yearning of countless women and men, across the globe.
The text of the Rule is remarkably brief, but it is refreshingly realistic in its understanding of who people are and who they can become.
Although written for a group of monks, there are lessons for all contemporary people: lessons about mercy and humility; about hospitality, care and welcome; about living a balanced and sustainable lifestyle.
It is intended for those who seek peace. It speaks about acceptance, compassion, and commitment to prayer and work.
The Rule presents a gospel way of life, a life based on the teaching of Jesus Christ, the Good News, which Benedict called “the truest of guides for human life”.