My life and work is lived out of an Ecological Spirituality and a Good Shepherd Heart.
Some time ago I received a great and unexpected compliment which meant so much to me. It was said that I had a Good Shepherd heart and it was this that motivated me in all I did! This remark started me thinking “What does it mean to have a Good Shepherd heart?”
I have been a Good Shepherd Sister for over 50 years. On my first meeting with the Good Shepherd Sisters I realised immediately that this was where I wanted to spend my life. I loved their attitude to the girls in care, and their laughter and happiness. Reflecting on this meeting later I realised I had come into contact with people who had a Good Shepherd heart and who were living out this charism.
And over the years I have pondered on what having a Good Shepherd heart means. Working with the girls, women and Sisters in Abbotsford, Albert Park and Bendigo were wonderful years. I witnessed the Good Shepherd heart in so many people. I also witnessed the response from the girls and women when they were touched by this compassion and love.
Being with the Novices for nine years I saw so many young women who had been influenced by Good Shepherd and wanted to live this way of life. Some were professed and many others took this charism into other vocational calls, into all walks of life, bringing justice, compassion and love to others in myriad ways.
Going into the prisons (prisons for men and women), children’s courts, and our hostels it was the Good Shepherd heart that always motivated me. It was a time of reaching out to the accused, the troubled, the confused men and women, the victims and the victimised. So often I recognised these same values in other people – for example, Chaplains from other faiths, and other workers.
In 1983 I joined the staff at a Spirituality Centre in Sydney, called Kairos. In 1989 a decision was made by the staff to purchase a 62 acre property in New South Wales where we began a Centre for Ecology and Spirituality. The team there consisted of five Sisters from various Congregations. We were the first of its kind in Australia. It was an exciting and challenging time as we embraced this Spirituality. We welcomed people from around the world and from all religions and many different Religious Congregations who came to participate in the programmes offered at the Centre. On the farm we endeavoured to be self-sufficient with our own cattle, hens and of course home grown vegetables. After 15 successful years we closed this Centre and relocated to Toowoomba, Queensland.
Here at the Centre we offer talks on Ecology and Spirituality. Once a month we have a vibrant group of men and women gather for a discussion group on various topics relevant to living a faith filled life. Other groups also come to the centre for staff gatherings and discussion time. We offer a weekly meditation group, and spiritual direction and guidance is available on request. This Centre also offers opportunities for retreat or quiet reflection time (directed or private) in a beautiful self-contained unit called ‘The Stables’.
For ten years I managed a shop outlet for The Trading Circle at the Catholic Conference Centre in Toowoomba. I work part time with the Refugees and Asylum Seekers, and also with the local St. Vincent de Paul group.
All of these experiences broaden my understanding of what it means to have a Good Shepherd heart. I believe it is nothing more than living life fully – compassionately and lovingly. And to be filled with gratitude for this wonderful and enriching journey.
Comprehensive overview from the GSAPP team - how Good Shepherd Partnership for Mission is developing in this region
Reconciliation holds special meaning in the Australian nation - it describes the long journey towards full acknowledgment of the rights of the Indigenous Peoples