“Where are you going? I suppose to the church to mumble your
prayers before the statues; and then you will be highly pleased with yourselves
thinking you are very devout. You would
do better if you would build a house for these poor girls who will be lost for
want of direction and resources.” It was these words, spoken by Madeleine Lamy
to St. John Eudes, which led to the establishment of the Order of Our Lady of
Charity on November 25, 1641, in Caen.
In response to a request from Bishop Charles
Montault, Mary Euphrasia established a community of Our Lady of Charity in his
diocese in Angers, France, in 1829. She named it “Good Shepherd” after an
institution that was dedicated to the same work which existed in Angers prior
to the French Revolution.
Mary Euphrasia received countless requests for
new missions. Reflecting on how to respond to them, she understood that a
change of structure was needed in how the monasteries were to be organized.
Thus, she wrote to Cardinal Carlo Odescalchi, Cardinal Vicar to Pope Gregory
XVI, about establishing a Generalate. Her request was granted on January 16,
1835. Because of this, a new Congregation came into being – The Congregation of
Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd of Angers.
Over the years there were many interactions
between the two Congregations in relation to mission and spirituality. Programs
and projects were created together. The ways of responding to mission developed
in response to the reality of the times. Structural transformation, advocacy,
justice and peace and reconciliation initiatives continued to be an integral
part of the ministries.
By 2006, a process for considering integration of the two Congregations began. Through a Journey of Enrichment in which history, spirituality, and charism were shared, a decision was reached for reunification through merger. The merger decree came into effect and the reunification was celebrated on June 27, 2014.
... (Congregational website)
Sr Mary Euphrasia's visit to London, 23rd June 1844
In the summer of 1844 the little community had the joy of welcoming their much-loved Mother-General, the Venerable Mother Mary of St. Euphrasia Pelletier. She arrived in England on the night of June 23, but, it being too late to reach the convent, she went to an hotel recommended by a gentleman, one of their fellow - travellers. It fortunately proved to be one kept by Mr. Pagliano, the devoted friend of the Good Shepherd religious in London, who received the Mother-General and the three religious, her companions, with great cordiality. No sooner did they enter the country than they experienced its proverbial hospitality. They were treated as welcome guests, and not allowed to pay for anything. The next morning Mrs. Pagliano's sister, Miss Floris, accompanied them in a carriage to the convent. As they were not expected so early all was still in the course of preparation. The sisters were anxious to give their beloved Mother as grand a welcome as possible, and, encouraged by the fine weather - it had not rained for three months, an exceptional period of drought in this country - they had ornamented the pillars of the portico with red and white calico, evergreens and flowers. No one was clever enough to say whether the style was French, Italian, or Indian, but all agreed it was not English.
The finishing stroke to their singular decorations was a heavy and quite unexpected fall of rain. It used to be said that wherever the Venerable Mother Pelletier went she carried blessings with her; truly the whole country could hardly have received a greater blessing at that time than this rainfall on June 24. The travellers not being expected till some hours later, Mother Regaudiat, with Sister Mary of St. Irenee, now her assistant, set off in a carriage to meet them, and it was settled that on their return a prolonged ring at the door bell should summon the little community to be there to receive the Mother-General. Scarcely ten minutes after their departure the signal agreed upon was heard, the two carriages having fortunately met in King Street. At once the religious hastened out into the garden regardless of the heavy rain, to welcome as heartily as possible to this once Catholic and happy country that revered and zealous Mother who by her charity in extending their Order to England was doing her part to bring back those days of peace and holiness.
The Revs. Father Long and Father O'Neal arrived that day to welcome the Mother-General. During her short stay many persons of distinction came to visit her; amongst others the wife of Sir Robert Peel, the Prime Minister.
The Mother-General had undertaken this journey, being anxious to see for herself the progress the work was making. She was greatly delighted with all she saw, and her gratitude to Bishop Grifliths was unbounded. Indeed, nothing could exceed His Lordship's fatherly kindness and generosity towards the house. Not content with all he had done to help towards the building, he never wearied of enquiring into the actual needs of the children. Again and again he paid for fittings and for necessary alterations in the wash-house, yet his charity never flagged. Even after all that was settled, he would come and ask with the utmost kindness if the penitents had everything requisite for their support. All this filled the Venerable Mother Pelletier's heart with the deepest gratitude, and not without cause, as, but for the Bishop's unexpected help recounted above, when the very existence of the house was imperilled, it could never have gone on.
Needless to say the dear sheep of the Good Shepherd fold came in for much of Mother Pelletier's attention. They on their part had been full of joy and excitement at the thought of seeing the Mother-General, of whom they had heard so much. They had arranged one of the dormitories not yet in use in which to receive her, erecting a small platform for her at one end of the room. Here they welcomed her with an address and some verses, and on another day acted for her a little sacred drama. The platform, however, narrowly escaped being the, cause of an accident, as when the Mother-General rose to go, it was so unsteady that she nearly fell. The children were terribly distressed, begged a thousand pardons, and said they feared they had nearly killed her through love. They were greatly taken with Mother Pelletier, who, though she did not know English, was, as they expressed it, "all smiles." One little phrase she, had learned delighted them beyond measure when they heard her say it in their own tongue. "The more I see you, my dear children, the more I love you." They never forgot it, and it has been handed down from generation to generation until this very day.