Be Good Samaritans
ACRATH President Clare Condon sgs recently received an honorary doctorate from the Australian Catholic University recently, for her contribution to social justice and to the Australian Catholic Church. Clare, who has been a Good Samaritan Sister for more than 50 years dedicated the honour to all women religious in Australia serving the poor, marginalised and elderly. And Clare knows a thing or two about service. Clare led the Congregation from 2005 to 2017, and was president of Catholic Religious Australia between 2008 and 2010. She received the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2013 Human Rights Medal.
Clare said her own awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery came through the late Good Samaritan Sister Pauline Coll, who was one of the two women religious who established ACRATH almost 20 years ago. “I also think I was greatly influenced by my understanding of the labour abuse of South Sea Islanders and First Nations People in the history of this country,” Clare said.
Clare said all humanitarian work was “the gospel imperative” and the most important lesson from the parable of the Good Samaritan, her Congregation’s namesake.
“I think the parable of the Good Samaritan at times can be dumbed down to the point that people think it’s about only being kind to someone else, but if you look more deeply at it, the Samaritan was the enemy, the Samaritan was the outcast,” Clare said.
“It calls for a real shift in values to reach out to the other who might not understand or appreciate you, but to acknowledge our common humanity. I think it’s really important and I think that parable is what’s sustained me.”
Clare sees her role as President of ACRATH as reaching out not only to victim/survivors of human trafficking, but to women and men religious and laity who must continue the work of ACRATH, which began almost 20 years ago.
“Religious women and men are part of the charismatic church, and have the freedom to go where the greatest need is. This is evidenced throughout history. The fact that Religious Institutes in Australia took up the challenge (to support ACRATH’s work) from a few highly committed people, religious and laity, testifies to the collaborative approach taken by religious leaders at the time,” Clare said.
“This collaboration is now paramount for where ACRATH is situated, and calls for that collaboration to continue with both personnel and with financial support. The growth in the involvement and responsibility of laity at all levels is a wonderful development.”
Clare’s commitment to ACRATH builds on her decades of service as a ‘Good Sam’.
“I believe in the ministry of ACRATH and the need to address the human rights and dignity of all people, but particularly those people who are trapped by modern slavery and unjust employment, especially children across our world.”
As President Clare sees financial stability and sustainability as one of the big challenges facing ACRATH.
“We rely on the donations of very generous people and religious orders. The staff are constantly looking for grants from governments and private bodies to support particular projects. It’s demanding and taxing work.”