It is over 50 years since I joined the Good Shepherd Sisters at Mt Magdala, Christchurch, New Zealand. I was born in Greymouth on the West Coast of New Zealand. Many Irish including my Great Grandparents arrived there in the 1860s allured by the Gold Rush of that time. My childhood was lived out and influenced by the legacy of the deep Faith of the Irish community. After my family moved to Christchurch and I completed my education I worked for 6 years as a clerk at the Health Department.
I was a member of the Catholic Youth Movement and we occasionally visited Mt Magdala to mingle with and play netball with the girls who were placed in the care of the Good Shepherd Sisters for a time of rehabilitation. During these visits I learnt about the Foundress of the Sisters, Saint Mary Euphrasia and her specific gifts of compassion and conviction in the infinite worth of the human person. She desired to bring to those she cared for an experience of Jesus the Good Shepherd. I witnessed this spirit among the sisters I met during my visits and decided to join them. My early years in Religious Life were spent caring for girls in a residential setting.
A change in Social Welfare policies in the late 1970s brought about the closure in residential institutions in New Zealand. Our sisters, addressing the needs of the times, moved into suburbs and were involved in a variety of ministries. From the 1990s I spent 20 years helping refugees and migrants to adjust to life in New Zealand. The families were mainly from the Middle East.
I realized how women experienced acute homesickness and loneliness finding themselves living for the first time in a nuclear family situation isolated in suburbs, in contrast to living with extended family members in densely populated areas. I befriended many of these women.
Spending time with these families was an enriching experience for me, learning of their courage, culture, customs and joining in their celebrations.
My life as a Good Shepherd Sister has been very blessed and challenging as we continue to be women committed to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace, Empowerment and Advocacy on behalf of the powerless.
The growing Good Shepherd team in New Zealand continues to expand its services, working with partner organisations in the development of a national network
Comprehensive overview from the GSAPP team - how Good Shepherd Partnership for Mission is developing in this region
Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand provides services and governance for Good Shepherd ministries, enabling sustainability and ongoing development into the future