Sr Elizabeth Sneddon RSCJ

2018 Sr Elizabeth Sneddon V1

Sister Elizabeth Snedden, RSCJ, reflects on her faith and teaching career.

"I began at Baradene when I was eight, and my family moved from Orakei to Remuera," says Sr Elizabeth Snedden. "I remember being astonished by the loving-kindness of the teachers after a rather grim state school experience. Almost all of my teachers were Sisters, and I discovered the beauty of my faith as I prepared for my First Holy Communion."

Articulate and intelligent, with a manner of speaking that reveals a lifetime of scholarship yet encourages questions, it's easy to see why Sr Elizabeth continues to make such a lasting impression on her students – although nowadays they're of the adult variety rather than children. At the age of nearly 78, she's a Lecturer in Pastoral Theology and Systematic Theology at Good Shepherd College, and in 2017 published The Eros of the Human Spirit: The Writings of Bernard Lonergan, SJ.

She describes her calling to religious life as "slow but quite joyful, really." As a Year 8 student at Baradene, she wanted to "go and nurse lepers for God," she recalls. "In Year 10, I spent a certain amount of time trying to prove that I couldn't possibly have a call from God – I wasn't "good enough". As I learned to pray during my school years, my relationship with Jesus deepened, my inner obstacles cleared, and I saw that God wanted me even more than I wanted God!"

Sr Elizabeth studied for two years at The University of Auckland before entering her noviceship in Rose Bay, Sydney, and two-and-a-half years later came back to do primary teacher training before beginning to teach RE, French, and Latin at Baradene in 1964. Later she completed a BA (Hons) at Canterbury and taught at Kincoppal, Rose Bay, Erskine, and Cottesmore, as well as Baradene. "Only when I retired from Baradene in 1999 did I go to Melbourne to do a Masters and then a Doctorate in Theology. By the time I finished my dissertation, I was already lecturing at Good Shepherd College, where Diocesan and Marist seminarians come to do Philosophy and Theology," she says, adding, "I'm still there."

Sr Elizabeth says that her faith is the greatest gift she has received and a precondition for being a Sacred Heart Educator. "I pray for the students I teach – and have taught!" she says. Her most cherished memories of her time as a Baradene student are the daily visits to the Chapel and to Mater on the way back to the study room. "Jesus is actually present in the Chapel at our service, and his love is healing, whole-making. No bestie will ever know us as well or love us so freeingly," she says sagely.

Even as she nears 80, Sr Elizabeth shows no signs of slowing down. "I am privileged to be on the two Baradene Boards, and I listen at meetings, read reports, share the Principal's newsletter each week, and pray every day for all the staff and each student, as do all the Sisters who live on campus," she says. "I have been at Baradene for more than half my life, so I embody quite a lot of 'institutional memory"!