Parable 'an imperative in life' for new Sister of the Good Samaritan
|Newly professed Good Samaritan Sister Sarah Puls (centre) with Congregational Leader Sr Clare Condon and Cistercian monk Father Steele Hartman at Our Lady of the Nativity Church in Lawson.|
On a brilliant Blue Mountains spring day, Sarah Puls has vowed her life to God as a Sister of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict.
The rite of First Profession took place within the Eucharist at Our Lady of the Nativity Church in Lawson on Saturday 20 November, in the presence of Good Samaritan Sisters, family members, friends and senior students from Good Samaritan Colleges.
Cistercian monk, Father Steele Hartman from Tarrawarra Abbey in Victoria, was the presider.
In his homily, Fr Hartman reminded Sarah that religious life was more than doing – even doing good for others.
“This is only half the story,” Fr Hartman said.
He recalled the experience of some newcomers to religious life who become “busy doing all sorts of things. Then, when everything is done and the whole joint is cleaned up, that’s when they leave. There’s nothing else to do! They miss the point.”
Fr Hartman quoted St Benedict’s words about the newcomer to the community: 'The concern must be whether the novice truly seeks God'.
“This is the other half of the story,” he said.
The call of God and the love of Christ
Congregational Leader, Sister Clare Condon, continued Fr Hartman's theme, referring to an editorial in the English Catholic Journal The Tablet at the time of Mary MacKillop’s Canonisation.
|Sarah reads her vows|
The journal's editor observed the secular media’s understandable focus on Mary MacKillop’s actions - but asked in what way a religious woman differed from female social workers, doctors, teachers and other women who shared an abiding sense of service?
Sr Condon said the difference lay not in the work, but in the search for God. She said that just as Mary MacKillop’s life was grounded in spirituality, in community, sacrifice and the love of Christ, so Sarah - herself an accomplished social worker - had come to know what underpinned her wanting to serve others.
“For you have experienced the call of God and the love of Christ deep within your being,” Sr Condon said.
“In following the parable as an imperative in life, and not just as an optional extra, you are leaving your life and your future wide open to be neighbour in whatever circumstances you might find yourself.
“At times you will be the Samaritan to others, at time Christ will be the Samaritan to you in your woundedness. This will be the shape of your journey of conversion; profound conversion into the experience of the very life of God.”
After proclaiming her vows, Sr Sarah sang the words of the ancient Rule of Benedict:
'Receive me, Lord, as you have promised and I shall live.
Do not disappoint me in my hope.'
These words were inscribed on the profession booklet, together with one of Sarah’s sketches of a figure letting go and being caught by another – being held in the embrace of God.
The Eucharist concluded with a solemn blessing praying that Sarah and all those gathered to support her, would “walk in the way of Christ, the Good Samaritan, gladly bearing one another’s burdens”.
Sr Sarah, originally from Melbourne, will now discern with her congregation her active ministry as a professed sister of the Good Samaritan.
Houses of hospitality
The Sister of the Good Samaritan are an Australian Congregation founded in 1857 by Archbishop Polding, an English Benedictine monk and the first Bishop of Australia.
The lesson of the Good Samaritan parable and the influence of the Benedictine spirit provide the Sisters with particular inspiration.
The congregation works in a variety of ministries, including education and social work, in parishes and in prisions, as well as in respite and residential care.
In the Diocese of Parramatta, The Sisters' of the Good Samaritan Maria Tal Cottages in Wentworth Falls are houses of hospitality and places of creative refreshment.
The cottages are situated on the edge of the National Park. Overlooking the Valley of the Waters and the Escarpment to Wentworth Falls make them an inspiring venue for the courses in Creation Spirituality which are sometimes taught there.
Visit The Sisters of the Good Samaritan
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