The Congregation of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd is a Non-Governmental Organizational (NGO) that, since 1996 has held Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The
purpose of this affiliation is to further our mission
of reconciliation, particularly in its orientation
toward girls and women. Through this means of collaboration
we work to bring about change in whatever conditions
condemn others to a marginalized life.
The specific mission of Good Shepherd comes right out of the New Testament story of the Good Shepherd who leaves the 99 well-tended sheep to go in search of the “lost one.” Over our 180 year history and in each of the 72 countries where we are located, we’ve tried to discern ever anew in each era and culture, who the “lost” ones are; the poor and powerless, those who don’t count in society, those wounded by life and left behind without hope, with a special focus on the needs of women and girls. In 1965, the Second Vatican Council galvanized all religious communities to integrate our direct service ministries with efforts at systemic change in the structures of society. It spoke to us explicitly and in vivid, compelling language about the importance of social justice work as an essential part of Christian Gospel living: The joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties of the women and men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way oppressed, these are the joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties of the followers of Christ.” …are the joys, hopes, sorrows and passions of Good Shepherd people everywhere.
Because we are an international group, our social justice and advocacy efforts have a global reach. Some of our strategies for effecting structural change have included gaining NGO and special consultative status at the United Nations, establishing Peace and Justice Offices on the international level and within continents and countries, setting up a National Advocacy Center in Washington, DC, setting up income-generating and micro credit projects in third world countries, and networking and collaborating with a host of organizations on specific social justice issues such as human trafficking.
For us as Good Shepherd people it has never been a question of choosing between direct service and social justice or advocacy work. The challenge is to be equally committed to loving service to each individual while also working passionately at transforming the degrading reality of the “little ones” of our world.