Eastertide in Italy and England for Good Samaritan Pilgrims
We gathered at the Grand Hotel Gianicolo in Rome on the Sunday after Easter – Principals and senior leaders from the ten Good Samaritan Colleges, along with our guide, Sr Elizabeth Brennan, and our trusty organisers, Sr Meg Kahler, and Monica Dutton of the Good Samaritan Education Mission team. In Sr Elizabeth’s words we began with the gift of being Romans for a time – and of meeting each other and meeting Benedict and the early Christians in the very same places where they had lived and passed on the good news of the risen Christ.
Later, in England the communities of Benedictines at Douai, Downside, Wass and Ampleforth welcomed us with great warmth and hospitality. It was delightful to be in rural England at Easter among the vivid flowering plants and sprouting deciduous trees in gardens and woods.
Our time together provided the new ways of seeing that come with being away from the familiar. There was also the stability of belonging to a group who cared for each other, ate and prayed together, and talked and laughed and searched for meaning with each other as we met each new person, place and story.
Sr Elizabeth’s gentle instruction, along with the knowledge of various members of the group, and the excellent guides at each site helped us to gather
- a sense of the life of the early Christians in Rome
- a sense of the lives of Benedict and Scholastica in Norcia, Subiaco and Monte Cassino
- a sense of the missions to England and of the dissolution of the monasteries, the fleeing of Catholics to Europe, and the re-establishment of the Catholic churches and monasteries in England, and the importance of continuity from Benedict’s time to the present
- a sense of Polding’s background, how he came to arrive in Australia, and the huge challenge he gave himself to recreate something like he had known in England.
Twenty one members of Good Samaritan College communities in Australia were privileged to experience a wonderful time of encounter, reflection, conversatio, hospitality, prayer, and at times, silence – it was a marvellous formation for us as Benedictine leaders here in eastern Australia.
Good Samaritan Education and Member of St Scholastica’s and Rosebank
Photos by Steve Langford