I have been with Good Shepherd Sisters since 1982 when I came to Australia from New Zealand as a “laywoman looking”. I stayed! In 1985 I made my First Vows, and Life Vows in 1990. Before I joined Good Shepherd I had been with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in secretarial and administration and flight operations - my background was very much administrative.
So the work of Good Shepherd was a “whole new ball game” for me! In 1985 I joined the small community in St Kilda, Victoria and worked with women who were involved in prostitution, as well as with young women in the remand prison. The sisters I lived with at that time were wonderful mentors for me, and I completed my Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) during that time. My ministry also included support for older homeless women with addiction problems. As a novice I worked with homeless alcoholic men, and I became really interested in further study in the field of addictions. While back in my native New Zealand in 1987-88 I completed a Diploma in Addiction Studies and worked as an addictions counsellor.
In preparation for my Life Vows I studied at the Pacific Mission Institute (PMI), in Sydney, Australia, not knowing how valuable it would be for me! After a short period of ministry back in Auckland, New Zealand where I was involved in social justice and anti-racism work, I went to Rome and worked in the Secretariat at the Generalate! It was a challenging and rich experience to live in the multi-cultural community within the Generalate and to learn Italian!
In 1995 I returned to Australia and work with Good Shepherd Youth and Family Services in communications and administration. I developed the Hastings Community Newsletter, and during this time I studied for a Diploma in Editing and Writing at a local Technical College. This led me to part-time university study and I completed my BA in Policy Studies, with a “minor” in communications in 1999.
In 2000, back in Rome for four years, it was a privilege to set up and run the new International Justice and Peace office for the Congregation. I was also a member of the community coordination team at the Generalate. The J&P office was a wonderful experience of networking and raising awareness of relevant issues across the Congregation. With our NGO office at the UN, and working in collaboration with other Congregations, we were able to raise awareness and report on issues like economic justice, trafficking of women and girls, poverty eradication – all issues we continue address from our different realities.
When I returned to my Province in 2005 I took some time for a sabbatical and attended a program at the Wells of Living Water centre in Wellington, New Zealand which was a particularly special time of renewal for me!
In 2006 I was asked to work on the Province E-Bulletin! As well, we developed a new Mission and Justice programme and I became involved in mission education and formation work, in particular developing an Orientation programme for people new to Good Shepherd. I am still involved with this ministry in a part-time way.
After our Provincial Chapter of 2006, I was appointed to the Province Leadership Team. Between 2008 and 2014 our Province has continued to develop partnership and co-responsibility for mission with Mission Partners. It has been a challenging and exciting journey! Restructuring and reshaping the ministry and “works” within the Province has not been easy, but the process has been very rich and we sisters are privileged to work with committed lay Mission Partners. In February 2015 I will complete 9 years in Province Leadership.
In 2007 I was appointed the Area Leader for the sisters in Victoria (at the time numbering about 40 sisters). The privilege of caring for the sisters has been a special experience, and I completed six years in this role in March 2014.
Over the past 12 years I have been a volunteer with the Good Shepherd Health and Wellbeing Team which has visited the women’s prison regularly. This ministry has kept me connected with the “grass roots”.
The integration of spirituality and justice is very important to me, and I believe to our understanding of who we are as Good Shepherd people. Internationally, from 2011 to 2014 I was the Asia Pacific Link Person for Spirituality, on behalf of the Asia Pacific Circle of Province Leaders (APC). My role was to link with the Congregational Spirituality Centre, and the network of Province Link Persons for Spirituality and support them in the work of promoting spirituality in their units. In March 2013, all the Link Persons met in Indonesia and we looked at how we can work together to promote Good Shepherd Spirituality across Asia Pacific. My experience is that Good Shepherd spirituality is alive and active in mission across Asia Pacific.
I believe it is important to continue working to integrate Good Shepherd spirituality in the ongoing work of mission and justice within Asia Pacific. For me, it is important that we share and encourage a deeper understanding of our spirit and mission. Justice and spirituality are integral to who we are as Good Shepherd and how we “do” our work!
In my unit I have been appointed the Unit Link Person for Justice and Peace with the APJP Network, and I have also now joined the APJP Core Team.
During 2015 I took a sabbatical break during which I was able to participate in a Pilgrimage in Germany focused on the life and spirituality of the 11th Century mystic St Hildegard of Bingen, and also attend a summer program on Spirituality at the School of Applied Theology in Berkeley, California. Now, in 2016 I am back in Australia and continuing to work as the coordinator for Social Justice within Good Shepherd Austrarlia New Zealand, and also as the Area Community Leader for the Sisters based in Victoria.
Religious Congregations in Australia work together to influence Australian society about issues such as Forced Marriage, Forced Labour and Slavery in Supply Chains
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
Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand: providing governance and enabling the sustainability and development of Good Shepherd ministries into the future