Call: reflections on religious life as a Good Shepherd Sister

My 25-year journey to a silver jubilee

By Claudia Palacio, RGS

It was the work and passion of Mary Euphrasia that drove me to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in 1989. This past December, in 2016, I celebrated my silver jubilee as a Sister of the Good Shepherd with the Central American Province, where I pronounced my first vows on October 7, 1991. This event brought many wonderful memories and a deep sense of gratitude to God’s mercy and faithfulness, as well as to my Sisters’ kindness and companionship along this journey.

Sister Claudia Palacio studied journalism for a year before entering the convent with Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Her experiences in Good Shepherd have included working with girls in small residences and serving with pregnant women in crisis and people suffering from AIDS.

After 18 years, I visited the Provincial house in Costa Rica, where I participated in Mass and a small surprise celebration the Sisters held for me. I had the opportunity to express my gratitude to the Sisters who played an important part in my early years of formation.

Later, in Nicaragua, I had a nice celebration with the Community, family and friends. Casa Nazareth, the community in Managua, was my first contact with Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Some of the Sisters with whom I had that first contact still live there.

Experiences taught me about faith, hope and resilience

I feel privileged and humbled by the experience of being missioned to serve in so many different countries. I have learned about different cultures and experienced so much kindness, not only from our religious communities but from the large community as well, and from those to whom I have been sent. The girls who worked selling candies at a traffic light, the pregnant teen with no place to go, the single mother with no job, the boys and girls with no running water in their community, the women caught in domestic violence, prostitution and addiction, the baby being born in a safe place.

These experiences have taught me what resilience looks like, what faith and hope are about. They have taught me about creativity and perseverance. I have these people’s names, faces and voices with me so that I might always remember God’s presence in my life and in our midst.

This journey that started more than 25 years ago brought me here to Mid-North America. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

“Some gifts you hold in your hands…
Some you hold in your heart.”
~ anonymous

My heart overflowed as I renewed my vows

By Michaella Kim, CGS

My heart overflowed with appreciation for the Province of Mid-North America as I renewed my vows in St. Louis on February 24, 2015.  My life was filled this day with delight because of the gratitude I felt to God who called me by His love and for the Sisters who prayed with me and for me.

heart overflowed
Michaella Kim, CGS, is a Contemplative Sister of the Good Shepherd. She lives in the Cheltenham Contemplative Community near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Joy was the seed of my religious vocation. While I discerned my vocation a chance meeting with Sisters changed my life. I thought to myself, what made Sisters happy?  What was their difference from my life?  It created interest enough for me.

My thinking was that they seemed to have given up so much in every aspect. They were living together, left their family and friends, their jobs or studies and all their earthly possessions. I had enjoyed living in abundance and now I felt unsatisfied. A hope to be a Religious Sister began to fill my heart.

A perfect joy

Through the years in religious life, I recognized that the “Joy” I had seen from the Sisters was a “Perfect Joy.”  This joy included the shadows I experienced and also the days of discouragement and disappointments.

That is to say, that like Jesus who carried His cross out of love it was through the crucifixion I could learn to experience real Joy.  As I lived the Gospel values for all who need our prayers, it was through self-patience and sacrifice that I have felt “Perfect Joy”

In his article on Consecrated Life Pope Francis said, “Where there are religious, there is joy.” Rather than pursuing secular values, through the practice of following Jesus in the Gospel we can have complete happiness.

They say “Joy” is a gift of vocation.  I, who am called to the consecrated life, am feeling joy in the fruit of the Cross. So today I respond “Yes” to God’s call as I say with Mary my own Fiat.

You can read Sr. Michaella’s original blog posting at our web page below:

Heart overflowed with appreciation as I renewed my vows

The Call

By Sharon O’Grady, RGS

A Call to religious life is not about our deciding what we want to do. Rather, the Call comes, knocks, begins to put ideas in our heads, attracts, frightens, and often we are not very accepting of it. It is as if the Call is with us before we are with the Call.

Mystery, faith and the God who calls are all in the mix.  So we doubt, we question, we struggle.

Another interesting piece is that we don’t have to do this. We really don’t. The God of freedom would not place such a burden on us. We don’t have to listen, we don’t have to respond.

The Struggle

There are stories about the struggle. One of our contemplative sisters had a car and on the day of her entrance into the community she parked her car under a tree outside the wall behind the convent. Anytime she wanted or needed to see her car she would go to a second floor window and look at it.

Another story is about a novice who often experienced great desires to leave the novitiate.  At such times she would go to her formator to tell her.  Each time she would find herself saying that she had a headache and did the formator have an aspirin. Eventually the novice had a line of aspirin sitting on her window sill.

Sharon O’Grady, RGS, has worked in a number of Good Shepherd Ministries that help women and girls overcome addictions, homelessness, domestic violence and life’s challenges. The ministries have led her into deeper experiences of the Good Shepherd’s love for each and every person.

When I was growing up in the fifties, a movie star by the name of Dolores Hart — a young Grace Kelly lookalike who had a blooming career and was engaged to be married — went off to a Benedictine convent and became a contemplative religious.

She is now the Prioress and was recently interviewed on 20/20. (You can find the interview on YouTube).  When asked if she ever thought about leaving during the novitiate, she responded “At least seven times a day.”

The Continuation

Another point about the Call is that it did not occur years ago.  It continues. It wakes us up each morning, moving us away from needing to see the car, moving us beyond our lines of aspirin and away from that great Dolores Hart career — away from the many things that divide our hearts.

St Mary Euphrasia suggests that we expand our hearts, and expand our souls to “be like the Pelican who feeds her young with her own blood.”

We know that the Call to religious life is not about deciding what we want to do.  And we know it is not about something we have to do.  And we also know there is nothing else we would rather do.

Together we celebrate the words of Isaiah. “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul.”

Take the risk, become real, live the call with integrity, live it in the fullness of its truth. And through all the challenges, twists and turns we know, don’t we, that in this journey we slowly live into the Call. We slowly live into the Charism.  And we slowly live into the very depths of the Shepherd’s heart.

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette is the Communications Coordinator for Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America. She is a career photojournalist who has served in various capacities of print, broadcast, and corporate communications. Jeanette is devoted to creation and is particularly focused on saving pollinators and other wildlife species and their habitat. She is an ethical vegan and created the website