than 150 years ago, St Mary Euphrasia Pelletier founded the
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd in
Angers, France, to serve women and children who were in need.
recognized that each person as well as that person’s culture
and background, deserve our greatest respect. Today, the Good
Shepherd Sisters, urged by the profound realization that Christ,
in a special way, is in each person who suffers and who weeps,
serve in 67 countries around the world.
is contemplative? A good way of talking about it is to say that
“ It is a long, loving look at life, at the universe and
all of creation in the presence of God whom we know is unconditional
Love. “How does it manifest itself in everyday life? When
we allow the ocean expanse to calm our hearts and free our spirits
and when we recognize that we are connected to every star and
every human face, we contemplate the mystery of God. When we
soak ourselves in Scripture and let our hearts and minds be
fashioned by Christ’s life, death and resurrection, we
are in an intimate relationship with our loving God. While all
these may sound great, we actually balk when we come face to
face with a reality that we wish would be otherwise, that we’d
like to change, control or manipulate according to our own ideas,
our own way of seeing things. To be a contemplative, and everyone
has a built-in capacity to be one; we must come to a profound
self-knowledge that is both frightening and liberating. We learn
to surrender and yield to a God whom we cannot understand most
of the time but dare to trust! We let go. We believe God’s
Word and care for God’s world with no strings attached.
We accept who we are. We also let ourselves be like furrowed
ground that lies in wait for the seeds of transformation, confident
that God will bring these to fruition in us.
Christians are called by the gospel to awaken the world to the
presence of God, alive and active within their very selves and
in every circumstance, every event, every situation, no matter
how bleak, no matter how pain-ridden. This awakening brings
about a peace and joy, a security and a comfort that this world
cannot give. A contemplative community nurtures this presence
by a life of prayer and study, characterized by simplicity and
by helping others to realize the depth of their human communion
in the family of God and in all of creation. Contemplative communities
believe that one of the most time-tested way to bring God’s
reconciling love and peace into the world is through a contemplative
vocation nourished daily by a rhythm of prayer, work and leisure
. This structure is balanced with hospitality and welcome of
guests and by a readiness to pray with and for others.
preferential option of the Congregation for social justice and
peace is lived by the contemplatives sisters through an attitude
of inclusivity. No one and no human concern is ever outside
the embrace of their prayer and interest, particularly those
served by their apostolic sisters. The unevenness of the global
economy and the oppressive structures that feminize poverty,
warring nations and nuclear weapons, make up the stuff of their
work. Moreover, whatever work they do, for example, cards they
create, alter breads they package or music they compose, they
weave in together the different strands of our world, and always
keep in mind those who feel alienated and alone.
be in solidarity with the poor the contemplative sisters are
engaged in a variety of work such as sewing liturgical vestments
and church linens, making soaps and candles from scratch, embroidering
sweaters, crocheting afghans and packaging altar breads for
parishes. They also quilt, create flower arrangements, wreaths,
frames and cards. Theses items are sold in their gift shops
and at Church bazaars.
contemplative sisters of the Good Shepherd belong to an international
congregation founded in Angers, France, by St. Mary Euphrasia
Pelletier (1796-1868). They have a mission of prayer for women
and children, particularly those served by their apostolic sisters.
In a life of contemplative presence to God and to all people,
the sisters live in community, and together create a holy space
where the needs of all are brought to the shepherd’s heart.
As they listen to God’s Word and to humanity’s cries
of suffering, they hope to pierce the world with the silence
that is able to see God’s care and concern for everyone
and everything. Their dream is to help build a world that nurtures
compassion and reconciliation.
Dream that Guides the Action
1825, when Mary Euphrasia Pelletier was thinking of new ways
of rebirthing God’s tender mercy, it came upon her that
there were women who allowed themselves to be found by God and
for whom God wanted the greatest gift that could ever be given,
a life of intimacy and friendship such as Jesus had with his
Father. Thus was Mary Euphrasia’s founding insight for
the contemplative branch of the Good Shepherd congregation born.
Mary Euphrasia made St. Mary Magdalen the model for her new
contemplative community. She hoped that the sisters would pour
out their lives to God and to others. She urged them to seek
the one thing necessary - listening to the words of Jesus in
true discipleship. St. Mary Euphrasia dreamt that just as Mary
Magdalen was the first apostle of the resurrection, her contemplatives
would ever announce to all God’s reconciling love for
the contemplatives hold Mary Euphrasia’s dream like a
light in the night sky. Like her in 1825, we seek new ways of
giving birth and giving flesh to God’s infinite care for
all but particularly to women and children cast off to the peripheries
of our aching world. We choose to stand with women who suffer
and children who are undernourished and underserved and we humbly
join our own to their cries for deliverance to a God who saves.
While we keep sacred space to nourish our relationship with
God, we seek to understand how we can be a visible presence
in our local church and be a sign of God’s immediacy and
You Dream Dreams….
You have read the Dream that guides our action and resonate
. You are a woman for whom God is so important and you want
to totally commit
yourself to this God.
. You are genuinely concerned about serving rather than being
served and agreeable
to be shaken out of your comfort zone.
. You have the ability to live a life of solitude and silence
kept in perspective by
living in community with a group of women with reverence for
. You will allow your prayer (that is, your relationship with
God) to be in service of
women’s struggle for equality, justice and freedom.
. You seek a better way of life for children who are traumatized
and ravaged by war,
hunger, prostitution, drugs and abuse and believe that through
self in Christ you can help transform our world where children
are safe, children
eat, children can touch the stars and touch God.
it may be that God calls you to do exactly that by helping us
build a world that nurtures compassion and reconciliation.
you would like more information please call or e-mail Sr. Rose
Behrend at : 508-432-5582 or [email protected]