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November 21, 2009 and Celebrations

Submitted by: regina
On: 20/11/2009

Good Shepherd Sisters worldwide are united with the whole Church in celebrating the Feast of the Presentation of Mary on November 21, 2009. The day is also observed by the Congregation as the devotional Renewal of Vows of all perpetually professed sisters.

In Rome, the 2003-2009 Congregational Leadership Team (CLT) will hand - over the responsibilities to the new CLT for 2009-2015 during the liturgy to be held at the Good Shepherd Generalate.

Sr. Brigid Lawlor, (Mid-North America) who was reelected congregational leader last July 3, will begin her second term of office, assisted by an apostolic council and a contemplative council.

The memb ers of the  apostolic council are: Srs. Eliene Barros (reelected member of the CLT, Southeast Latin America), Anne Josephine Carr (Great Britain), Susan Chia (Singapore/Malaysia), Armelle Dehennault (reelected member of the CLT, France) and Rita Luis Lourenco (Angola). 

For the first time in the history of the Congregation, a contemplative council was elected during the 2009 Congregational Chapter.

The approval of Article 1 during the 2003 General Chapter called for studies and the eventual integration of the Constitutions of apostolic and contemplative sisters. The Integrated Constitutions which was unanimously approved during the 2009 Congregational Chapter held from June 13 to July 9 in Angers, France, called for a Congregational Leadership Team composed of the Congregational Leader, an apostolic council and a contemplative council.

The members of the Contemplative Council are: Srs. Reina Escobar (Central America), Jude Ellen Golumbieski (Mid North America) and Maria Teresa Pomar (Philippines).

The Sisters of the Philippine Province welcome the new Congregational Leadership Team and are grateful to the outgoing members of the CLT, for their dedicated service to the congregation: Sr. Elaine Basinger, link councillor to the Philippines, Sr. Evelyn Fergus, Sr. Sabina Pathrose and Sr. Cecilia Patino.

To prepare for the November 21 Renewal of Vows, the sisters of the Philippine Province also hold a triduum, three days of prayer that give emphasis to the vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and zeal. Sisters also remember the Good Shepherd martyrs who offered their lives for others 26 years ago on November 21, 1983, the feast of the Presentation of Mary.

Shepherding that others may live


November 21, 2009 is  also the 26th Year Anniversary of the Cassandra Martyrs, Good Shepherd Sisters from the Philippines who perished during the sinking of the boat MV Doña Cassandra.

The Cassandra Martyrs include: Sr. Mary Consuelo Chuidian RGS, Sr. Mary Virginia Gonzaga RGS, Sr. Mary Catherine Loreto RGS, Sr. Mary Concepcion Conti RGS.

Shepherding has taken many forms in the history of the Good Shepherd Sisters. In the Philippines, on November 21, 1983, it was shepherding in a shipwreck. Sisters Mary Consuelo Chuidian, Concepcion Conti, Virginia Gonzaga, and Catherine Loreto were on board the M/V Doña Cassandra when it sank in shark-infested waters off the coast of Northeastern Mindanao, Philippines. Survivors told of the four Sisters praying, distributing life vests, helping children put theirs on, instructing other passengers to hasten towards the life rafts and to be ready to abandon ship, not calculating how little time they had to save themselves, until time did run out.

Sister Mary Consuelo Chuidian, 46, born in Manila, a religious of 20 years, Superior of the Davao Community, had volunteered to document the first case of hamletting, Vietnam-style, in Laac, Davao del Norte. She chaired the Women’s Alliance for True Change, was coordinator of the Rural Missionaries for Southern Mindanao, and was active in the associations of women religious in Davao and Mindanao. Her leadership inspired her community to be open to victims of every kind, especially those of Martial Law.

Sister Mary Concepcion Conti, 46, born in Bauan, Batangas, a religious of 18 years, member of the Davao Community, had organized and headed the Community-Based Health Program in the Diocese of Tagum. She sought to train rural health workers, thus empowering them to attend to the basic health needs of the poor. She was an exceptional teacher and learner who brought her skills to her Mindanao mission.

Sister Mary Virginia Gonzaga, 42, born in Bacolod City, a religious of 9 years, Superior of the Sapad Community in Lanao del Norte. She had organized the Young Christian Workers in her home city and later, as a religious, worked among slum dwellers and migrant workers before she went to the Sapad mission among Christians and Muslims.

Sister Mary Catherine Loreto, 39, born in Pasig, Rizal, a religious of 8 years, member of the Davao Community, at the time of her death was coordinator of Task Force Detainees in her area. Hers was the most difficult challenge of standing up for those harassed by the military and their families, with the risk of herself falling under suspicion. The four Sisters were honored by Bantayog ng Mga Bayani Foundation at its annual celebration of martyrs and heroes. In inscribing their names on the Wall of Remembrance, 7 December 1999, the citation read:

For contributing to the protest movement against the Marcos dictatorship and human rights abuses, as street parliamentarians and religious superiors heading and implementing education, health, rehabilitation and justice programs, both through legal and extra-legal means;??For leaving the safety and comfort of home and convent to work as rural missionaries among poor farmers, indigenous peoples and Muslims in remote areas of Mindanao, thus becoming active witnesses to the Church?s mission to serve the poor, deprived and oppressed at the height of state repression of the Church;

For putting their individual talents at the service of country and people.



(The Good Shepherd) composed for the Cassandra Martyrs on November 25, 1983

Music and Lyrics by Fr. Eduardo Hontiveros, SJ

Sung by Noel Cabangon

Ang mamatay sa sarili ay mabubuhay sa Diyos;

Sya'y larawan ni Kristo, ang Mabuting Pastol.

At kanyang iniaalay ang sarili niyang buhay

Sa lugod at kabutihan ng minamahal niyang kapwa.

Sa paglapit ng panganib, tumatakas ang upahan;

Ngunit ang tunay na Pastol nananatili hanggang kamatayan.

At kaya't siya'y mahal din ng Butihing Diyos na Ama.

Sa pagkat handa syang mamatay

Nang ang kawan ay maligtas.