While the establishment of Good Samaritan Education followed four years of considerable planning, consultation and discernment, it was built on a firm foundation begun many years earlier by the Congregation of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan. From the very beginning, commitment to the education of young people has been at the heart of the Congregation’s mission. The story of the foundation and subsequent developments in the governance of the ten Good Samaritan schools can be described in three phases.
From the earliest days of the colony, Catholic schools, including most of the schools conducted by Good Samaritan Sisters, were administered initially through local parishes and then later through diocesan systems. Others, however, were owned by religious orders. By 2011, the Sisters of the Good Samaritan had retained ownership of ten schools. These schools share a common foundation, story and spiritual tradition. At the same time, however, they have also developed their own distinctive character as they responded to the ‘signs of the times’, especially as these were expressed in the needs of the communities in which they serve.
In the second half of the twentieth century, fewer women and men were entering religious life. Providing suitably qualified religious for both teaching and administrative positions became increasingly difficult. At the same time, many religious discerned that their call was to work in newly emerging ministries to the poor and marginalised, rather than to remain in the well-established school system.
On a global level, the teaching of Vatican Council II acclaimed the rightful position of lay people and their “proper and indispensable role in the mission of the Church” (Gaudium et Spes, 4). This view became fundamental to the vision of a new form of governance for the Good Samaritan schools.
By 1993 each of the ten Good Samaritan schools in Australia was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee and governed according to a constitution. This model worked well and the schools were governed for three decades by dedicated women and men working in partnership with the Sisters.
In 1996, the Good Samaritan Education Council (1996-2012) was established to assist and advise the Congregational Superior and her Council on matters related to both the ecclesial and the civil responsibilities of the Congregation in education.
With its chief focus on building and strengthening relationships across the Good Samaritan education community, the Education Council worked effectively and well with schools, Boards and Company Members. Over time, however, it became increasingly clear that this structure of governance of Good Samaritan schools lacked long-term sustainability.
An extensive consultation process (2009-2011) was undertaken with Sisters, Members, Directors, Principals and Leadership Teams of the Colleges to determine the best model of governance to take the Good Samaritan schools confidently into the future.
From this process, it emerged that a new Church entity, a diocesan collegial public juridic person (PJP), was the most appropriate governance structure for the future life of the ten schools.
In 2011, the Sisters of the Good Samaritan received approval to establish Good Samaritan Education, a new entity within the Australian Catholic Church to oversee the canonical governance of the Congregation’s schools.
On July 22, 2011 the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, in agreement with the Archbishops and Bishops of Melbourne, Brisbane, Wollongong and Broken Bay – dioceses where the ten Good Samaritan colleges are located – constituted Good Samaritan Education.
Good Samaritan Education was launched during a liturgy at St Scholastica’s Chapel, Glebe in Sydney on November 13, 2011. It assumed the Sisters’ rights and obligation with regard to their ten schools on June 1, 2012.