Pilgrims from the Provinces of French Canada, New York/Toronto, Mid-North America and Singapore/Malaysia came to the Motherhouse in Angers, France, on April 3, 2017. The 75 pilgrims were therapists, teachers, board members, Sisters, CEO’s, social workers and other staff from Good Shepherd agencies. Melinda Stricklen, Sr. Barbara Beasley, Lizzie Tschida, Nancy Fritsche-Eagan, Bob Interbartolo and Anna Pavan — the Angers Planning Team — greeted the Pilgrims.
Happy those who will have occasion to make this pilgrimage … to preserve for posterity the spirit of zeal and unity which is the life of this Institute. Their life’s journey will be blessed …! St. Mary Euphrasia
Pilgrims learn Good Shepherd history
This year marked the 9th Pilgrimage since it was first introduced to Mission Partners in 1999. The purpose of the Pilgrimage is to educate and inspire Good Shepherd Mission Partners around the mission, history and philosophy of care. For nine days, Pilgrims are immersed in the history of St. Mary Euphrasia and the sights, smells and sounds of her house and environment.
The schedule for the Pilgrimage week is based around a daily theme reflecting the life and mission of St. Mary Euphrasia and the world of Good Shepherd. Daily themes were: Introduction, Global Good Shepherd, The Rose Bud, Noirmoutier, The Shepherd, Mission Partners and The Tunnel.
Sisters Anne Josephine Carr, Ellen Kelly and Noreen O’Shea gave session talks. With wonderful assistance and organization from the Spirituality Centre, led by Sr. Noreen O’Shea, Pilgrims were also able to experience the new Good Shepherd Museum, which is located in the original Tournemine factory that St. Mary Euphrasia purchased on Rue Brault. They also visited the Labyrinth. Pilgrims were invited to reflect on their experiences personally and in small groups of between six and seven people.
We encourage Pilgrims to think about the experience of being in Angers and to reflect on what they learned and how they were changed. Each Pilgrim identified a message that they would take home to share with their agencies. Many of the messages involve feeling connected to the whole world of Good Shepherd and St. Mary Euphrasia, as well as a renewed zeal for the work, and deep personal connections.
How consoling it is to be all together today! How happy I am, dear daughters, to have you all round me, to see the warm charity, the peace and the spirit of union which reign among us! None are strangers to each other. Americans, English, Irish, German, Italians, French and so on. You are all of one heart and mind. St. Mary Euphrasia, Conferences, p.495
Pilgrims share their reflections
Here are a few of the messages that Pilgrims shared with us:
“Relationship is at the heart of our core values. Mary Euphrasia’s spirit is alive and well among us. Work on listening to one another as the basis for the respectful love we have for those we serve but also with all whom we collaborate in our beautiful mission.”
“The global work being done by Good Shepherd is diverse and impactful, and we’re a part of that. We’re part of something bigger than us, not just geographically, but also across time. I’m going to find ways to share with the staff at meetings and in emails different global initiatives and updates as I get information, and how what we are doing connects to St. Mary Euphrasia in relevant ways.”
Be quite sure that as long as beautiful unity exists, God will never cease to fill us with blessings and favors. St. Mary Euphrasia, Conferences p.373
“I am determined/committed to be a Good Shepherd culture carrier.”
“Mission must be what we filter everything through from the board down to every staff and client.”
“We are mission partners and we need to keep Mary Euphrasia’s work going with the core values central to her work. Keeping the spirit and work of the Sisters going is important and helpful to the teens in our community. I will live my life and do my work the way St. Mary Euphrasia would have done. I will share my experiences and be a reminder that Good Shepherd is community.”
Do you know what draws down God’s special protection, which upholds our Institute and gives it such strength? It is the union between us, the spirit of unity. St. Mary Euphrasia, Conferences, p.500
Pilgrims connect with each other
“As basic as it seems, I will try and impart how being a Good Shepherd affiliated agency is being connected with a world of like minded people. Our agency is geographically isolated from other Good Shepherd agencies, and we have no Sisters in our region. We are the only trauma-informed nonprofit residential service in our region. I want others to learn, as I have this week, that we are not alone in what we do and how we do it.”
“I will try to communicate during team meetings and retreats how connected we are to St. Mary Euphrasia, and how we need to strengthen our connection to Mission Partners to help everyone feel supported and get new ideas.”
“Thank you, thank you for this experience. I am grateful and very appreciative for everything this week. I feel calmer, more focused, more supported and loved. It was an amazing week which will not be forgotten.”