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Good Shepherd Sisters mark 179th anniversary of the establishment of the Generalate

Submitted by: regina
On: 16/01/2014

The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, popularly known as Religious of the Good Shepherd or Good Shepherd Sisters, celebrates its 179th anniversary today, January 16, 2014.

The Prologue of the 2009 Integrated Constitutions of the apostolic and contemplative sisters reads:

The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, founded by St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, was approved by Pope Gregory XVI on January 16, 1835. The congregation has its origin in the Order of Our Lady of Charity, founded by St. John Eudes in 1641.

St. John Eudes was an outstanding priest and leader in the Christian renewal of 17th century France. He is especially known as the father, doctor and apostle of the liturgical devotion to the Heart of Jesus and Mary. During his missionary travels throughout France, Father Eudes became increasingly aware of the moral distress and exploitation of many girls and women. To help those women who desired to change their lives, he established a refuge in 1641 which he confided to some women who wished to share in his ministry of charity. From this beginning the Order of Our Lady of Charity evolved. To show the beauty of this vocation and to ensure that the sisters remain faithful to their specific end, he gave them a fourth vow - zeal for the salvation of souls.

In 1814 Rose Virginie Pelletier entered the Order of Our Lady of Charity at Tours and was given the name of Mary of St. Euphrasia. Combining a zealous apostolic life with a deep spirituality she spent the early years of her religious life in active ministry to young women. At the age of 29 she was elected superior at Tours and invigorated the life of the community and its apostolic ministry. While at Tours Sister Mary Euphrasia realized that some women wished to dedicate their lives to God and she formed a contemplative community under the patronage of St. Mary Magdalen. The specific orientation of the community was prayer and conversion. Sister Mary Euphrasia, who had a spiritual affinity with St. Teresa of Avila, based their life on the primitive rule of Carmel. She realized that through lives of prayer and silence the contemplative sisters would also bring spiritual fruitfulness to the apostolate of the community.

In 2007, the Congregational  Leadership Team of the Religious of the Good Shepherd and the Central Team of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity (OLC) engaged the two congregations in a Journey of Enrichment that had hoped to bring the two congregations together for mission. The following years saw the efforts of the sisters to have common formation, facilitated by the Process Planning Committee, that enabled the sisters to look at the shared history, charism, spirituality and mission.

During the Fifth General Chapter of the OLC, held in August 2013 at the Good Shepherd Mother House in Angers, the delegates made a request to the Congregational Leadership Team for a merger with the RGS.  Sr. Brigid Lawlor and the CLT upon their return from the OLC General Chapter consulted the apostolic and contemplative sisters about the response to the request.

On January 9, 2013 the RGS and OLC Team wrote that the RGS “reviewed the theological reflection outcomes in which 100% of the Units responded. From this response, 99.50% said “yes”. The comments included inspiring messages of welcome, joy, happiness, reconciliation, hope, gratitude, friendship, respect, sensitivity, compassion, communion, and mutual enrichment.

The process, in which OLC is now engaged, although not complete, shows that almost 97% have made the personal decision to accept the request of the General Chapter.

The Good Shepherd CLT unanimously approved the merger! It was a joyous and emotional moment.”

The Good Shepherd Congregation is  present in 75 countries.

At the time of the foundation in the Philippines in 1912, the Generalate was only 77 years old.