Good Samaritan History

The Sisters of the Good Samaritan (or Good Sams) were Australia’s first ‘home grown’ order of religious women, established in Sydney in 1857 by Archbishop Bede Polding.  They take their name and inspiration from the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29) and share a commitment to be ‘neighbour’ to those in need, with a special focus on assisting vulnerable women and children.

In the early days the Sisters walked the streets of Sydney, bringing direct assistance to those suffering and living on the streets. The provision of refuge for destitute women and education soon became a focus of their ministries.

In 1901 the Sisters’ original convent in Pitt St was demolished to make way for the expansion of Central Station and they moved to Toxteth House in Glebe where they established a school and teacher training college. During the Depression years, the hungry would queue at the convent to receive food and necessities. 

Over time the Sisters established schools in Sydney’s inner city, New South Wales regions then later in South Australia, Queensland and Victoria. Some schools were in remote locations, serving mining or rural communities.  At the end of World War II, a group of Sisters went by ship to assist victims of the atomic bombing of Nagaski, Japan. On the 15th of October 1948 they departed from Sydney on the SS Changti, believing they would never return to Australia.

Later, the Sisters were called to ministries in the Philippines, Kiribati, Timor Leste and in remote and regional areas of Australia. Each time they went with willing hearts and hands.

As a result, the Good Sam community now stretches across Australia, the Pacific and Japan. There are Sisters, Oblates, graduates and students of Good Sam Colleges and many supporters and friends, all who take inspiration from that simple yet compelling story told more than 2,000 years ago.