The Congregation of our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
The Congregation of our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd known as the Congregation of the Good Shepherd, nowadays has around 3500 sisters and 15 000 mission partners in 70 countries on all five continents. Sisters and mission partners help women and children in difficulties and work for greater social and economic justice, more specifically for the defense of women’s rights. In this respect, the Congregation is recognized as an NGO with consultative status at the UN.
In 1829, St Mary Euphrasia, at that time a Sister of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity founded by St John Eudes (1601-1680), established a community in what was the Tournemine Indian textiles printing factory, on the site of the actual Motherhouse.
The mission of the Sisters is to welcome and support women in difficulty. A few years later, St Mary Euphrasia recognized the need to develop a structure that responded more effectively to the needs of the times. She requested permission from the Pope to create a Generalate in Angers, in order to unite all the houses under a central government and to join together all the human and material resources for the good of the mission. This is the beginning of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. It is based on the spirituality of St John Eudes, who was especially devoted to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. In the lifetime of the foundress, the congregation developed considerably. At the time of her death in 1868, there were 110 houses all over the world.
The Mission Today
The mission of the Sisters remains the same as at the time of the foundation of the Congregation: to accompany and help women and children in difficulty. With the benefit of knowledge gleaned from psychology and the social sciences, people are accompanied in the context of their families and social environment. The underlying motivation in all the various services of the Sisters and Mission Partners is to awaken a deep sense of worth and dignity within people hurt by injustice, oppression and alienation.
Specific programs are directly geared to women and children to allow them to develop their personal potential. It is essential to build and maintain relationships with people to help them change their lives. Micro-finance projects enable women to become independent. The Sisters work for justice and peace by participating in changing systems and structures which condemn some people to marginality and exclusion.
They work with a great diversity of people:
– Young people in difficulty;
– Single mothers, women and children abused, women who have been trafficked, women involved in prostitution or who have left this situation, families who need some help and advice
– Homeless persons, prisoners, migrants, displaced people, asylum seekers, etc.
Collaboration with Mission Partners has been significantly reinforced and the Sisters are facing the challenges of globalization with all its attendant problems, such as human trafficking, environmental and resources degradation, etc.
The Sisters who live a contemplative life-style bring prayer support to all the efforts of the active Sisters and Mission Partners.
The Mother House
In addition to the Museum, the Mother House groups the following:
An International Community with currently 15 Sisters from 11 countries: Argentina, South Korea, Costa Rica, France, India, Ireland, Lebanon, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Peru and Switzerland. The Sisters animate the Good Shepherd Guesthouse and the Spirituality Centre in Angers.
The Spirituality Centre, which coordinates the spiritual animation of the Congregation. It offers retreats, pilgrimages, accompaniment for groups and individuals, days of reflection, training sessions, etc. Its role is to share the spiritual, human and historical heritage of the Congregation and encourage research.
The Good Shepherd Guesthouse, which welcomes individuals and groups in a friendly serene atmosphere, all year round.