GSE Mission Leaders Conference
The Mount St Benedict Centre at Pennant Hills was the gathering place for the annual conference of Mission Leaders at our Good Samaritan schools which took place on March 3rd and 4th. A group of about 25 were in attendance who, notwithstanding different titles and role descriptions, carried the responsibility for developing the Mission and Catholic identity of our schools. Sr Meg Kahler and Monica Dutton from the Good Samaritan Education Mission Team were our conference convenors and coordinators.
The opening sessions of the conference had a distinctively biblical focus with Dr Catherine McCahill SGS guiding the group through some exegesis of texts from the Gospel of Luke as we explored the theme of “Mission through our Good Samaritan Gospel Foundations”. Among these texts were the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Repentant Thief as well as the stories of the birth of Jesus, the proclamation in the synagogue at Nazareth at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and the post resurrection story of the road to Emmaus. Following our work with Luke’s Gospel we then turned our attention to the Rule of St Benedict and explored the prominence of scripture in Benedict’s teaching. Later in the day we took the opportunity to read and reflect on two important papers emerging from meetings with Bishops and leaders of Catholic Education in Rome at the end of 2015. One paper was “Educating Today and Tomorrow: A Renewing Passion” the other was entitled “Pope’s Q&A on the Challenges of Education”. These two papers made some affirming yet challenging observations about many key questions and issues facing Catholic educators.
Following our session of reading delegates joined the community for evening prayer before adjourning to the Pennant Hills Gold Club to gather with participants at the Beecroft Forum Dinner of the Major Issues and Theology Foundation. On this occasion, Dr Jackie Huggins AM, Chair of Reconciliation Queensland and Director of the Congress of First Nation Peoples of Australia spoke about issues affecting indigenous people. Dr Paul O’Shea, Mission Director from Rosebank College gave the Benediction at the end of the evening.
The morning of day two at our conference provided the opportunity to engage in some discussion of the two articles on Catholic Education from the previous afternoon followed by some discussion about the different ways in which the Good Samaritan frameworks on “Formation for Mission” and “Teaching and Learning” are currently being used our schools. The last two sessions provided opportunity for some discussion among school based Mission Teams as well as an open forum discussion looking at issues such as collaboration among our schools, stewardship, fundraising, staff formation and Catholic identity.
As always the conference provided a most valuable opportunity of formation of Mission Leaders in our own faith and spirituality together with timely input on important developments in Catholic Education and some much appreciated time to network with colleagues across our network of Good Samaritan schools.
Dean of Mission
Mount St Benedict College