BRISBANE Archbishop Mark Coleridge has paid tribute to the Sisters of the Good Samaritan for the way they have lived the Gospel parable of their name.
He made special mention of this in his homily at a recent Mass celebrating the order’s 100 years of service to Catholic education in Brisbane archdiocese.
Archbishop Coleridge celebrated a special liturgy at St Columba’s Church, Wilston, and it was followed by a cocktail reception hosted by the Archbishop, and Good Samaritan Education and Brisbane Catholic Education.
The occasion was a celebration of the gift the sisters have been to the school communities and the bright future that lies ahead for Good Samaritan Education.
The Gospel reading at the liturgy was the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and in his homily, Archbishop Coleridge gave thanks for the way the sisters have lived the message of the parable in Catholic education over the past 100 years in Brisbane.
“The Sisters of the Good Samaritan have heeded the Rule of Benedict in listening with the ear of the heart, listening to the Word of God,” he said. “In so doing they have become the Word of God for others.”
A highlight of the cocktail reception was the presentation to the sisters of an etching by Brisbane artist Maureen Vander Zalm, entitled “A hand up”.
The work claimed second prize recently in an art exhibition and competition held by the Cathedral of St Stephen Art Group, with the theme of the Good Samaritan, and Maureen was in attendance to see its presentation to the sisters.
In her address, Brisbane Catholic Education executive director Pam Betts described the work as “a thoughtful, yet powerful piece, requiring the viewer to interpret the simple depiction of two clenched hands”.
“When we saw this etching, we marvelled at its simplicity, a simplicity which says so much,” Ms Betts said. “What better way of capturing the essence of the Good Samaritan story, and indeed the story of the Good Samaritan Sisters, these women who have given a hand up to so many in the Brisbane archdiocese.
“In Catholic education, we acknowledge with gratitude and great sincerity the work of all who have gone before us. These linked hands represent that partnership.”
Good Samaritan Education chair Terry Creagh also spoke about the sisters’ great gift for partnership in education and ministry.
“Over the past 100 years, the sisters have always seen themselves as partners in ministry,” she said. “We have seen sisters working in leadership and as teachers in Good Samaritan schools, diocesan schools, and diocesan offices; we have observed partnerships with tertiary and theological education institutions, in social welfare through orphanages, women’s shelters, work with refugees, pastoral work in parishes, work with indigenous communities, care for the sick and aged, advocacy work.
“Many of us would have witnessed their work where their fundamental love and respect for God’s creation and the ecology of the planet is shared; and we have been recipients of their wonderful appreciation of the arts.”
Ms Creagh said while Lourdes Hill College remained the only school in Brisbane archdiocese that was a Good Samaritan school, there were many schools, both primary and secondary, that had a Good Samaritan heritage, or based their ethos on the Rule of St Benedict.
She said Good Samaritan Education, established in 2011 to be a new governance structure for the 10 Good Samaritan colleges in five dioceses across three states, looked to the future with confidence, built on a solid inheritance.
Speaking in response, the Good Samaritans’ congregational leader Sr Clare Condon said it was important to remember and to honour those sisters, “our ancestors, who 100 years ago, came to Brisbane as religious women and educators”.
“Their dreams and hopes are our heritage on which we now build our hopes and dreams today,” she said. “That first group of women had no idea what their efforts would achieve. We need the same faith and courage, as we too do not know our future.
“We trust that God will lead and guide us into this unknown future. ”
This story was first published in the Good Samaritan Sisters’ online publication, The Good Oil, on August 16.