Good Samaritan Benedictine Pilgrimage 2016
In April I was privileged to be one of a group of twenty-three people who gathered in Rome to commence the Good Samaritan Benedictine Pilgrimage. The group included leaders and Board representatives from the ten Good Samaritan Colleges across Australia.
Sr Meg Kahler and Monica Dutton, of the Good Samaritan Education Mission Team, were appreciated for the smooth organization and warm and gentle leadership that framed each day. Their style enabled participants to enter into a varied and rich spiritual journey.
As a group we had met earlier at a pre pilgrimage weekend in Sydney. I recall, during the weekend, there was much talk about shoes! Shoes, in the broadest sense of the word, defined and became a metaphor for parts of the pilgrimage journey as we retraced the footsteps of Saint Benedict in Italy and Bishop Polding in England.
The variety of experiences, including visits to Abbeys and communities of monks and nuns as well as Benedictine Colleges, framed the background for individual and collective reflection at both the personal and professional level.
Each community we visited welcomed us with warmth and hospitality. We witnessed the ways in which others now ‘walked in the shoes’ of the Rule of Benedict.
Along the way we grew to know each other as we lived and prayed and spent time in conversation.
Our journeying and walking enabled us to be in the places where Benedict lived and prayed in Norcia, Subiaco, Monte Cassino and Rome. We came to a deeper understanding of early Christianity and the life and times, and influence, of Benedict and Scholastica. As we continued to England we recognized the impact and legacy of the Reformation and missionaries as well as coming to know something of the early formation of Polding. With his hopes and ideals for what was to be in the new settlement what a contrast and challenge he must have experienced when first coming to Australia!
As the pilgrimage continued participants reflected upon the expression of the Benedictine call within our own school communities, asking questions about the nature of the Colleges in Australia and the ways in which they invite students, staff and families to be in community, informed by the Benedictine and Good Samaritan tradition.
Often, as we reflected upon the ‘footsteps’ being taken here in Australia, we realized there is much to celebrate. As well, as always, there are opportunities for an exploration of deeper possibilities ….
The Pilgrimage experience is fertile ground from which to grow and represent the rich legacy of the Good Samaritan and Benedictine heritage.
To quote from a reading ‘To Be a Pilgrim’ (Good Samaritan Benedictine Pilgrimage Guide Book, p.7, par.4)
As we walk together, pilgrims rather than strangers, our encounters, our conversations, our experiences good or bad, can act as a stimulus towards further spiritual reflection and dialogue – not stumbling blocks, but stepping stones. And always as we do this we remember the pilgrim who comes towards us from the opposite direction. In Jesus Christ, God comes in search of us.
Member, Good Samaritan Education