Every bottle of jam, strawberry or ube (purple yam) produced at Mountain Maid Training Center in Baguio, Philippines has a story to tell. Every jar of cookies and loaf of bread baked at St. Anne’s Bakery has a story to tell. These are stories of the economically challenged youth from the mountains of the Cordilleras whose dream is to complete a technical or college education, whose desire is to uplift themselves and their families from the cycle of poverty.
The stories of these young men and women are woven into the tapestry of the Good Shepherd mission of reconciliation and charism of compassion. St. Mary Euphrasia said “these girls and women belonged to you even before you knew them”.
“They belonged to you even before you knew them.” These words have found an echo in my heart these past ten years (2003-2013) that I have had the privilege and joy of journeying with the student-workers of Mountain Maid Training Center. This journey means sharing my gifts in Values Formation, Recollections, Oriental Healing Arts, Rosary Making, Baking, Cooking, Quality Control, Product Development, Celebrations.
In 1964 I entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Los Angeles, California. As a postulant and a novice I was assigned to the kitchen for two and a half years where I learned how to bake cookies and make bread by hand (no machines). Little did I realize then that the skills I learned and honed would be useful for mission. The cookie Snowballs or Russian Tea Cookies or Mexican Wedding Cakes which I learned as a novice is the number two best seller at the Training Center. The number one best seller cookie (18,000 jars a month!) is Langue de Chat or Lengua de Gato or Tongue of Cat.
Before joining Good Shepherd, I earned a degree in Management and Business from the Pontifical University of Sto. Tomas in Manila. Again, this background is providential in helping manage Mountain Maid Training Center. The Center started with one product in 1953 as a small cottage industry and grew into what it has become today - a large scale social enterprise employing 45 full time staff and 350 part time student workers.
The business of making jams and baking cookies is simply a means to support the mission, not an end. Up to the 1970s, the apostolate in Baguio was partially supported by local and foreign donations. Thanks to the talents of Good Shepherd Sisters, the commitment of dedicated staff, the hard work and determination of student-workers and the loyalty of valued customers, Mountain Maid Training Center is today financially viable and 100% self supporting.
The label in the ube jam tells the story of Mountain Maid Training Center: Our products, sought for their quality, signify the Good Shepherd Sisters’ mission with lay mission partners, for the student workers from the Cordilleras. Made with care and diligence, cooked with a prayer and wrapped with the mission, these blessings in bottles/jars feed not only the body, but also nourish the soul.
Sisters and staff at Mountain Maid Training Center are very proud of this year's graduates, who have completed college degrees or technical vocational training
In Baguio City, Philippines a new environmental initiative transforms tons of vegetable and fruit waste material every week into organic fertilizer
A long established Good Shepherd social enterprise in Baguio City aims to empower young people to break the cycle of poverty through education - and it produces a famous and highly sought jam
Comprehensive overview from the GSAPP team - how Good Shepherd Partnership for Mission is developing in this region
Caroline Price and Jane Ng represented Asia Pacific in a Congregational Spirituality meeting in Angers France in May 2014