Good Samaritan Education celebrates 10 Years

Good Samaritan Education celebrates 10 Years

By Moira Najdecki
Chair, Good Samaritan Education

In a year in which we celebrate 200 years of Catholic Education in Australia, I have reflected on the enormous contribution of the Good Samaritan Sisters to education. What a privilege it is to continue the work that began with the first Australian order of nuns in the 1850’s. I often reflect on the great diversity of that first group who ranged in age from 19 to 56 yrs old – all risk-takers and challengers, responding to the education and pastoral needs of the early colony. It was in that same spirit that, alive to the spirit of change, the Sisters invited laity to join them not just in the ministry of teaching, but in the mission of keeping alive the Good Samaritan  Benedictine tradition in education.

Thursday 22nd July 2021 marks the 10th Anniversary of the signing of the Statutes which brought Good Samaritan Education into being. It was a momentous occasion that resulted from many years of discussion, consultation and planning to establish an entity that would enable the 10 Australian Good Samaritan schools to continue to pursue their mission of providing a distinctive Catholic education.

This new ecclesial community was created with a governance structure that was collegial in nature; one that sought to provide direction and sustainability as Good Samaritan Education developed and flourished.  And flourish it has. The 10 fine schools that we have today are a testament to the work of the principals, staff, Boards and Members who, over the past 10 years, have led, supported, inspired and nurtured our ecclesial community to be the best it can possibly be.

To those Sisters and lay women and men who dreamt GSE into being we say thank you for your careful planning and guidance that gave us solid foundations. To the school communities who have embraced and progressed a Good Samaritan education in the Benedictine tradition, we say congratulations for building so well on the foundations bequeathed to you. To the students, the sole reason for our being, we say go forward as grounded, hope-filled young people who will lead wisely, listen deeply and treat your neighbours and your environment with justice, love and the compassion of Christ.


Enjoy more on the story of the becoming of Good Samaritan Education in the first episode of our new podcast series Communio Calling.

Compassionate Presence

Compassionate Presence

By Gabrielle Sinclair

Restlessness is such a familiar feeling, a relentless out-of-sorts, uncomfortable, and tired sort of longing – longing – that tug.

John Cassian, a monk and theologian wrote in the early fifth century about an ancient Greek emotion called acedia – “a listlessness and yawning hunger”[1].

Acedia has modern associations with the vice of sloth, but the older understanding has a deeper meaning. It is essentially a spiritual boredom that causes or leads to the seeking of all sorts of distraction, much like procrastination, steering suffers from their purpose.

Recognising and naming acedia helps to claim agency over this unsettling state that can hinder our openness and communio. Cassian’s advice on acedia became the basis for St Benedict prescription in the sixth century that his monks live out a rhythm of prayer and manual labour, finding remedy in a stability and structure of ora et labora.[2]

A compassionate renewal of purpose is required, a dose of integrity and a reminder that we are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), and that our deep longing connect us to a deeper knowing beyond this restlessness to a freedom we desire but can’t quite attain, for we are from this world but not of it (Jn 17:14).

I remember coming home from school when I was about eleven going to my mother seeking comfort and telling her that I had had a big fight with my best friend. It wasn’t true; I made up the story as a cover for a magnitude of emotion and restlessness I had no idea how to name or explain. Comfort seeking, recognised by marketers, has sparked industries and expos a plenty. Yet, our discombobulation and our societies compassion deficit continue to grow and morph as the symptoms and effect of our disconnection splash across the news daily.

A lack of self-compassion and self-awareness means we don’t process the accumulation of restlessness and hurts, and unprocessed hurt is passed on as a way of finding relief, often seen as spotlight shifting and throwing shade. Collectively, we need to learn to hold and be present to ourselves as the starting point, to ensure we are not contributing to passing on hurt, that we may instead be a presence of compassion in the world.

The radical compassion of Jesus is no small personal challenge, yet it is also a call to communio; by making space to more intentionally integrate our whole selves, we are called to re-establish the bonds of neighbour by recognising the holy in the other, which other? Every other! Recognising the dignity in everyone and all of creation means acknowledging the image of God.    

Sadly, ongoing political and social debate, from Refugee Detention, Black Lives Matter and toxic masculinity, continues to divide. Too often, politicians try to advance issues by setting goals based on dehumanising criteria instead of recognising the need for all to be inherently valued. The Rule of Benedict offers a clear guide for setting goals and working together precisely by acknowledging need and honouring dignity.

“Everything should be arranged so that the strong have something to yearn for and the weak nothing to run from” RB 64,19

Compassion is a verb; it requires something of us to go and think beyond ourselves. It is to be in a relationship with another, as equals. Though the necessary kind of action is not to fix, to change, but to be present, recognising them and thereby connecting them to the body of Christ. Thomas Merton ocso spoke of this reality, that the very idea of compassion “is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are part of one another and involved in one another”. Being genuinely present, being in communio, is like a circuit breaker that calms our restlessness and our longing as God’s presence and image is acknowledged within.

Jacinta Shalier sgs adaption of Isaiah 35 below illustrates the way of life and faith before us, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love (RB Prologue 49), as we go about being the compassionate presence in our communities and to ourselves.

A roadway will stretch before us, called the holy way.

It is for us who have a journey to make,

And on it, the weary will travel with hope.

Those who hear the call of life will enter with hearts enlarged

singing their song of joy.

All tears will be wiped away, as with an upward singing spirit,

the cosmic symphony of compassion

resounds throughout the land.

Based on Isaiah 35, by Jacinta Shalier sgs
Wildflower Journey Prayers


[1] St John Cassian, The Institutes, translated and annotated by Boniface Ramsey. Mahwah, N.J.:  Newman Press of the Paulist Press, 2000, p 219.

[2] Amy Freeman, Remedies to Acedia in the Rhythm of Daily Life: Center for Christian Ethics, Baylor University,2013, p 37.

2021 – Year of Communio

by Pat O’Gorman

Year of Communio: through the lens of Compassion and Stewardship

Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ,
and may he brings us all together to everlasting life.
RB 72:11-12

Communio is a verb, not a noun.  It is not an ideal we must realise but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we participate.  All of creation exists in communion, in relation to each other and to God. “It is communion that makes things ‘be’; nothing exists without it, not even God.”[1]  

Everything takes place within the context of community which in our Benedictine tradition is often called a ‘school of communion.’[2]  This is the locus where we learn together with others how to seek God, how to be at heart a listening community, how to foster the common good and how to go out of ourselves to serve others.  Community is incarnated in “bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ep4:2b-3).”

The source of our unity as community is always Christ.  At the heart of Benedict’s spirituality is the presence of Christ through whom we come to know the liberating love of God and through whom we are able to share that love with others.[3] A Benedictine community exists to give witness to Christ and is about embracing a shared life and common vision that ensures there is a place for everyone.

Communio is the web of relationships which constitutes the actual life of Good Samaritan Education (GSE). It is radically relational and emphasises the mutual participation and the sharing of responsibility of all members for the shared mission of GSE.  Communio is the “compelling starting point to preserve unity and diversity in unity, affirm equal dignity of all members, and develop collaborative structures for ecclesial organisation and leadership.”[4]  The relational and dialogical character of authority and obedience is emphasised through communio and given expression through “practices of shared information, shared accountability, and shared governance.”[5] 

The very life of the community develops and forms its members and fosters communion. It shapes collegial identity and underpins our experience of being and doing together. Transformation and growth of each member is made possible within the context of community.

[1] John Zizioulas (1993):  Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church, p17

[2] Abbott Armand Veilleux OCSO (1996): ‘Benedictine Life as a School of Communion’

[3] Demetrius Dumm OSB (1996): ‘Cherish Christ Above All’, p44

[4] Michael L Hahn OSB (2017): Benedictine Communio: a Gift for the Church? The American Benedictine Review 68, p390

[5] ibid, p402

Benedict’s spirituality of community is based first of all on bondedness in Christ. Neither communities nor families exist for themselves alone. They exist to witness to Christ and in Christ. They exist to be a miracle worker to one another. They exist to make the world the family it is meant to be. Their purpose is to draw us always into the centre of life where values count and meaning matters more than our careers or our personal convenience.

Joan Chittister OSB
Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, p44