Senator congratulates home-grown Sisters

Good Samaritan Sisters ex-student and Federal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has delivered a message of congratulations for the Prime Minister on the occasion of the Sisters' sesquicentenary celebration at a Sydney service on Friday.

The NSW Senator (pictured) was among a number of church and civic leaders joining the Sisters, their partners in ministry, family and friends for the anniversary Mass on Friday, a Good Samaritans statement says.

The day marked the 150th anniversary of the congregation's foundation by Archbishop John Bede Polding and Mother Scholastica Gibbons, a Sister of Charity, in 1857.

Congregational leader, Sr Clare Condon, said that the "Good Sams" have been a gift of God to our country and our church.

"This gift is expressed through those first five women and then through the 1,536 others who have lived and served as Sisters ... in the many fields of education, social welfare, pastoral ministry and missionary service," she said.

In the speech, Sr Clare also acknowledged the congregation's failings and weaknesses over the years.

"Together we pray for forgiveness and healing where pain and anguish has been or is part of our story," she said.

She told the congregation that the celebration was more than memory.

"It is a day of renewed commitment for now and for the future," she says. "It is our opportunity to bring alive the values of the Parable of the Good Samaritan in our societies and in our church here in Australia, in Japan, in the Philippines and in Kiribati [the countries in which the Good Samaritans minister]."

In the homily, Cistercian monk and international scholar, Michael Casey from Tarrawarra Abbey in Victoria says that although the Sisters' numbers has waned over the years, "the vitality of a religious congregation is not measured by numbers or by public visibility and acclaim, but by its fidelity to its original mission within the context of a changing world."

"What Archbishop Polding asked of those original sisters, 150 years ago, remains a valid mandate for today - to show forth the gentleness and compassion of the Good Samaritan in applying themselves to every charitable work," the Fr Casey concluded.

Other dignitaries attending included Cardinal George Pell, NSW Governor Marie Bashir and Aidan Bellenger Abbot of Downside England.

Good Sams Rejoice (Sisters of the Good Samaritan Media Release, 5/2/07)

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6 Feb 2007