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​​​​​​The Story of our Congregational Symbol and what it means.

​​​The silver heart
GS Heart.jpg ​​
Up to the Congregational Chapter 1973, every Good Shepherd Sister wore the silver heart as our symbol. Then the chapter decided to leave it up to the provinces, if they want to wear a symbol - and what kind of symbol - or not.

In any case, the symbol should include a cross and the shepherd´s staff.  
Up to the Congregational chapter 1979, some provinces experimented with different symbols and brought them to the chapter. As the congregational dress was no longer the same, there was a proposal to have a common congregational symbol, and this proposal was passed.

At the Congregational Chapter 1985, several provinces offered their symbols as congregational symbol. When it was voted on, the symbol of the South German province was accepted as congregational symbol.

​​​Sr Margaretha Holfelder1.jpgSr Margaretha Holfelder working.jpg
Sr Margaretha Holfelder ​
​And this is the story of the German symbol: After the 1973 Chapter, Sr. M. Regina Exenberger, in the seventies province leader in South Germany, had asked Sr. Margaretha Holfelder, a Cistercian nun in the abbey of Baden-Lichtenthal, where we also had a community, to design a symbol for the province. Sr. Margaretha had a diploma as gold and silver smith and was creating vessels for the liturgy. Sr. M. Regina gave her ideas for our symbol, stemming from our spirituality: cross, staff, and the hearts of Jesus and Mary. And Sr. Margaretha designed the symbol and made the symbols for the South German province, which soon were adapted also by the Rhine province and the Austrian province.
On July 18, 2009, Sr. Margaretha Holfelder passed away. I am convinced that she will never forget the wearers of her work of art. And we owe her our prayer and gratitude.
GS Symbol photo1.jpg
​Since 1985 this symbol had become the congregational symbol, Sr. Margaretha had a lot of work to provide the symbols for the whole Congregation. The rough silver piece was made in a factory, but each symbol had to be worked on by hand. We Good Shepherd Sisters kept close contact with her, and she shared with us that when she was working on a symbol, she prayed for the sister who would wear it one day. We shared with her the congregational newsletter. I often visited her and brought her news from our Congregation. She once told me that making the symbols for us, had given a new dimension to her life as a cloistered nun: It had opened for her an important window to our world and to the suffering and the hope of many women and children, for whom she now prayed. The abbey later gave our Congregation the copyright for the symbol for provinces in countries, where silver was cheap, and the customs for importing symbols from Germany too expensive for the sisters. Thus their symbols were done in their own country.​
Sr. M. Roswitha, Province of Germany (Taken from Good Shepherd News #225 July 2009)


​​ ​What our Symbol means​​                            All our sisters both apostolic and contemplative wear this Congregational Symbol which identifies us.
​​​GS Symbol hearts.png​The Two Hearts...represent the hearts of Jesus and Mary united as one. We draw our spirit of zeal from this Heart - an evangelical spirit of Welcome, Kindness, Understanding and Loving Service, which gives witness to the value of each person. It also represents the reality that we love with two hearts: our own small, limited heart and the great heart of Go​d.
GS-Symbol-crook.jpgThe Crook…represents the extension of the Shepherd’s own self, used to rescue the sheep that is lost or in trouble. Through the Church, Jesus continues to encompass with love all afflicted with human weakness. He looks for the lost one, brings back the strayed, tends the injured and makes the weak strong. Jesus reveals the Father’s mercy through a love which overcomes all sin and infidelity.
GS Symbol cross.pngThe Cross…reminds us of the cost of the shepherd’s self-giving, even to layi​ng down one’s life. We give our total gift of self, which is rooted in the following of Christ and in his paschal mystery, leading through the cross and death to resurrection.