The Congregation of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd was founded in Angers, France in 1835 by St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier.

Rose Virginie Pelletier at her 1st communionSt. Mary Euphrasia was born Rose Virginie Pelletier on the island of Noirmoutier, off the coast of France, on July 31st, 1796. Her parents were imprisoned on the island during the French Revolution. Her father was a medical doctor who provided care for other inhabitants of the island as well as for their captors. Her mother fed the hungry and cared for the sick. Thus, as a young girl, Rose Virginie witnessed that faith is expressed in action. In her later years she would advise her novices with regard to those in their care, "It is not enough that you love them, they must know that you love them."

As a teenager Rose Virginie attended boarding school in Tours, France and became familiar with the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity who resided nearby. This Order had been founded by St. John Eudes in 1641. She was particularly attracted to the ministry of these Sisters who cared for girls and women in difficulty. Some of the girls were abandoned by their families or orphaned, some had turned to prostitution in order to survive. The Sisters provided shelter, food, vocational training and an opportunity for these girls and women to turn their lives around. Rose Virginie entered the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity at the age of 18, and was given the religious name Sr. Mary Euphrasia.

When she was only 29, Sr. Mary Euphrasia was appointed local superior in Tours. During this time the Bishop of Angers asked that a home be established for the girls and young women in his Diocese.  Sr. Mary Euphrasia was sent to set up this house in 1829 and she was appointed the local superior there as well.  Her natural ability to lead others and her strong, engaging personality were the cornerstones of the legacy she would leave.

 

Sister Mary Euphrasia found a suitable piece of property and lead five sisters to Angers. These sisters opened their home and their hearts to receive women and girls who were destitute. Soon, requests for similar ministries were pouring in from other cities in Europe and beyond. Arising out of her desire to meet these needs, Sr. Mary Euphrasia envisioned a new governing structure that would free her Sisters to respond more readily and independently to the many needs that surrounded them. She appealed to Rome for approval to establish a new religious congregation. Born of this need the congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd was founded in 1835. The Congregation grew quickly and within her lifetime, Sr. Mary Euphrasia founded 110 new houses of the Good Shepherd, spreading to every corner of the globe.

Sr. Mary Euphrasia died in Angers, France on April 24, 1868. She was named a saint in 1940. She is buried on the property of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Angers, France.

Today, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd can be found in over 72 countries around the world. In the United States and Canada, there are ministries operated by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd from New York to Los Angeles, from Manitoba, Canada to Atlanta, Georgia.

Everywhere we establish ourselves, whatever ministry we may be involved with, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd attempt to communicate to those whom we serve that each person is of inestimable value. We put our faith in action, remembering the words of our foundress, "What are we doing in this world, and why are we here, if not to help our neighbors?"

Links for more information about St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier

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    Baptism
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    Helping the poor
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    Angel or demon
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    Boarding school
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    Rose and Pauline de Lignac
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    Asking entrance to the Refuge
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    Postulants in Prayer
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    Bible reading as novice
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    Spending time with older Sisters
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    Coming to Angers
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    Habit to Magdalens
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    Writing to Rome
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The following Image Gallery is a sampling of "lantern slides" from the history of Good Shepherd and St. Mary Euphrasia.  The slides are estimated to have been created between 1928-1933.

These slides are courtesy of Joel Shedlofsky,CA - Province of Mid-North America Archivist.  For more information on slides, please email archivist@gspmna.org