The Sisters of the Good Samaritan
The Sisters of the Good Samaritan hold a unique place in history being the first women's religious congregation to be founded in Australia.
Established in 1857 by the Archbishop of Sydney, John Bede Polding, the Good Samaritan Sisters began to care for the poor and destitute of the early colony.
Later they set up orphanages and schools and today there are more than 100 Good Samaritan communities throughout Australia as well as in Japan, the Philippines and Kiribati.
They are involved in social work, nursing, respite and residential care, education, parish work, centres of spirituality and administration.
Good Samaritan Sisters are women who have committed themselves to work for justice in the world. They stand with the indigenous people of Australia, the women of Japan and Kiribati and the women and children of the Philippines.
As women of faith and guided by the Gospel they value communal and individual prayer, peace, compassion and living in community.
Building relationships between Houses and Good Samaritan Communities
Each of the College Houses takes on the responsibility of supporting one of our chosen Good Samaritan partners to promote justice and peace. The partners are Mater Dei School Camden, Kiribati, Timor Leste and the Philippines.
The relationships aim to be mutually beneficial as our houses grow in their understanding of the insights and needs of others and the ministries of the Sisters.
The community of Good Samaritan Sisters offers learning support for local kindergarten level children living in extreme poverty in order to help them successfully enter primary school. The Sisters' support also carries onto the parents of these children and the local community. Some Mount St Benedict staff and students have visited the school and other visits are planned.
A country at risk
Because of the threat of rising sea levels caused by global warming, many more people are becoming aware of the location and the plight of the people from the Republic of Kiribati.
If and when the waters rise, Kiribati will be no more.
Kiribati (the former Gilbert Islands) consists of 33 very low coral islands stretching across some 5,000 square kilometres on the Equator in the Pacific Ocean.
More than one-third of Kiribati’s 100,000 people live on the main atoll of South Tarawa.
Good Sams come to Kiribati
In the late 1980s, Bishop Paul Mea was persistent in his invitation to the Good Samaritan Sisters to help with the education and missionary needs of the people of his diocese.
In 1991, Good Samaritan Sister, Veronica McCluskie, was appointed to the staff of the Kiribati Pastoral Institute. She was soon joined by Sister Veronica Griffith. The ‘two Veronicas’ planted the Good Samaritan way of life in the fragile coral soil. Soon a number of I-Kiribati women asked to join them.
What attracted young women to join the Good Sams?
These women were attracted to the Good Sam spirituality, particularly the commitment to community, to Lectio Divina, and to the Good Sam style of ministry characterised by practical neighbourliness to those in need and a compassionate commitment to justice.
What the Good Sams do in Kiribati
There are now two communities in Kiribati and the I-Kiribati and Australian sisters are engaged in a variety of ministries: primary education, youth ministry, and working with people with disabilities and mental illness.
In 2009, the Good Samaritan Early Childhood Centre was opened. The centre is staffed by three Good Sams – two young I-Kiribati and an Australian.
Marella Rebgetz, an Australian Good Samaritan with a degree in water management, is employed by the government to help address Kiribati’s critical water needs caused by the rising sea level and the increasing salination of drinking water.
Good Samaritans, both in Kiribati and Australia, are involved in the Pacific Calling Partnership and advocate for the rights of environmental refugees.
Help make a difference
If you wish to donate to the Good Samaritan mission in Kiribati, contact The Good Samaritan Foundation.