When I was invited to join the Good Shepherd Volunteers’ team last year, I knew I was stepping into a special story. In the beginning I focused on the legacy of all the volunteers (over 350 of them!) who had given their time, talent, and heart to the service of others throughout the last 31 years, alongside all those yet to come. But the GSV story is just one expression of the full history of the Good Shepherd Movement begun by Saint Mary Euphrasia in 1835.
In late August, GSV Board Chair Veronica DeBerardine Bennett and I were blessed with an invitation to attend a Pilgrimage to the Mother House of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Angers, France where we would dig deeper into that history. Along with 80 other mission partners and Sisters, Veronica and I spent nine days enveloped in the love and zeal of this amazing international movement of which GSV is a vital piece.
We were invited to enter through the Green Door of the Mother House on the first day of our pilgrimage. For hundreds of years, this door has been the entry point for women and children seeking compassion and the care of the Sisters, alongside those who have joined the Congregation to be part of the mission of service. This symbol of the Good Shepherd embrace welcomed us as well, asking us to consider the role we play in advancing the call to Just Love and providing the resources necessary to prepare for this work.
As I stepped across the threshold I was overwhelmed with the honor of being entrusted as a partner in mission and the relief it was to be embraced by the steady spirit of love the Sisters of the Good Shepherd have embodied for nearly 200 years. It was a reminder that we are all both servants and those in need of service; we all give and we need to receive.
If you’re anything like me, it is so often more difficult to be the latter—but these must always go hand in hand. To be an effective Shepherd is to know what it is to be Shepherded. We are best able to offer to others what we have allowed ourselves to receive. Stepping into this community requires us to open ourselves to be served by others, as uncomfortable as that can often be. Community is both a source of strength and a place of healing.
Over the course of the next year, my reflections will invite you to accompany me through that Green Door as I share key moments of the Pilgrimage which highlighted our intertwined histories and the hopeful future of the Good Shepherd mission. My prayer is that these glimpses will encourage your spirit and enliven your zeal as we continue to forge this story together.
Director of GSV