Good Shepherd immortalized in park courtyard

Good Shepherd Sisters are immortalized in a park courtyard in St. Paul, Minnesota, where the Sisters once served 8,000 girls in need.

A large sign at the entrance to the park records the moment in time when Good Shepherd Sisters had a convent and school for girls on Blair Avenue. The sign and courtyard, located in Frogtown Farm and Park, were dedicated at a public ceremony on October 3, 2015. Former and current Sisters of the Good Shepherd gathered for the occasion.

Maureen Cannon and Susan Kenny Stevens, initiators and organizers of the Good Shepherd Courtyard project, stood at the park’s “Mariposa” entryway and reflected on the project. The entryway marks the path that once led to the House of Good Shepherd at 931 Blair Avenue, where Sisters cared for 8,000 girls from 1883-1969.

How Sisters came to be immortalized in park courtyard

immortalized in park courtyard
Susan Kenny Stevens (left) stands with Sr. Madeleine Munday, Province Leader for Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America, and Maureen Cannon (right) in the Good Shepherd courtyard, where Sisters are immortalized.

Three years ago Maureen and Susan initiated a campaign to raise funds and design ideas for a project that would immortalize the work of Good Shepherd Sisters who devoted their lives to helping girls in St. Paul. Maureen and Susan went into action when the land that once housed House of Good Shepherd  was sold to develop an urban farm and park.

The sale of the land and development of the urban farm project garnered robust media attention, but no mention of the rich 86-year history that Sisters of the Good Shepherd had with the land and local people.

Maureen and Susan weren’t going to settle for this and immediately took steps to ensure that Good Shepherd would forever be associated with what is now called Frogtown Farm and Park.

Their tenacity paid off. The newly dedicated Good Shepherd courtyard is marked by Good Shepherd symbolism. It contains  a circular engraved sidewalk and park benches with heart-shaped armrests that are formed by shepherd crooks. A large informative sign with photographs tells the story of Good Shepherd and the St. Paul Sisters.

Just beyond the courtyard is the “Mariposa” entryway. Mariposa is the Spanish word for butterfly. Artist Ghia Ghei designed the entryway as a trellis for plants that will act as a living curtain for the plaza area. The feminine butterfly form symbolizes the concept of transformation. It recognizes the community members who repurposed the site and the Good Shepherd Sisters who left their mark on the community during their time there.

immortalized in park courtyard
Park benches in the courtyard have heart-shaped armrests that are formed by shepherd crooks.

The sun shone brightly on a perfect fall day as friends and Sisters past and present gathered on the former grounds of The House of the Good Shepherd to witness the unfolding of a new chapter in the Good Shepherd story.

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