Good Shepherd Ministry entrusted to Catholic Charities

The Good Shepherd ministry Chicago House of the Good Shepherd has been entrusted to Catholic Charities and is no longer a sponsored ministry of Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America. The Province entrusted the women’s domestic violence shelter to Catholic Charities on July 1, 2015. Good Shepherd Apostolic Sister Sharon O’Grady served the Good Shepherd ministry for five years as housing advocate for the families. She reflects on the process of letting it go.

Good Shepherd ministry entrusted to Catholic Charities
House of Good Shepherd helped moms with job searches, developing resumes and budgets, and securing safe, affordable housing.

The Chicago journey of transition began with the signs of the time. The community, Mission Partners and leadership became increasingly aware of the stress placed on the mission because of fewer Sisters, ongoing financial concerns, and a large convent space that could be used by the program.

The process went on for a few years zigzagging through possibilities and alternative paths. There was a longing for continuation, a need to somehow resolve the stress factors, and an ongoing search for another stone we had not overturned. We wondered about leaving Chicago, one of the largest of our cities, and known for its violence.


Good Shepherd ministry entrusted to Catholic Charities
Good Shepherd Lay Mission Partner Maria Rappozo comforts the children at Chicago House of Good Shepherd when she shows them that Jesus loves all the little children of the world.

Good Shepherd ministry contradicted violence through light and hope

Our mission enabled us to contradict the violence through light, hope and healing.  And we had been present in the city for over 150 years. Many of our apostolic Sisters had served in Chicago, and at one time there were more than 50 Sisters in the Chicago contemplative community. In hindsight, the following words of St John Eudes bring light and counsel regarding the situation:

“If the time is right, the whole world together will not be able to resist our efforts. If it is not yet time let us trust the Lord, be strong and take courage. One thing should greatly encourage us: that it is impossible to doubt that this is God’s work in view of the great and extraordinary blessings it has pleased him to bestow on our meager efforts.

This clearly shows that they must come from him and so he will not abandon his work… the Lord will do it in the most appropriate way and at the proper time, and much better than we might ever wish.

Catholic Charities continues the Good Shepherd mission

Good Shepherd Ministry entrusted to Catholic Charities
Sister Liz Schille gets a hug and kiss from one of the children at HGS.

St. John Eudes wrote this in a letter to Msgr. Simon Mannoury on April 7, 1648: “It is up to us to be faithful and go our way always with humility, strength, and trust.” Then came the Kairos moment, the appropriate and proper time. Leadership brought Catholic Charities into the process.

We rejoiced as we discovered Catholic Charities’ understanding, concern and willingness to keep the ministry alive. Monsignor Michael Boland, President and CEO of Catholic Charities in Chicago, celebrated a Mass of the Good Shepherd with HGS staff and Sisters in June.

At the end of Mass Sisters Mary Catherine Massei, Claudia Palacio, Liz Schille and Sharon O’Grady commissioned, in the name of the province, Catholic Charities and our Mission Partners to continue the mission of Chicago House of Good Shepherd. Monsignor Boland shared news of the transition to readers of The Catholic New World, the archdiocesan paper. Good Shepherd ministry entrusted to Catholic Charities

The newspaper report read, in part: “Soon Catholic Charities will add another component to its continuum of domestic violence services. On July 1, the House of the Good Shepherd domestic violence shelter will be welcomed under Catholic Charities umbrella. This remarkable institution has helped thousands of abused women and children flee violence and rebuild their lives.”

Carrying on with compassion, dignity and love

Monsignor Boland also reported that Catholic Charities is tremendously honored that Sisters of the Good Shepherd, who have served Chicago for more than 150 years, entrusted this wonderful place of healing and hope to the care of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“I was at HGS two times. It’s near and dear to my heart. I am grateful to see that it was transitioned well. Catholic Charities is continuing with Mission Effectiveness, and they kept our staff. Knowing that the ministry will continue is worth everything,” said Sr. Mary Carolyn McQuaid.

Good Shepherd ministry entrusted to Catholic CharitiesThe transition of HGS to Catholic Charities became final on July 1. Although Good Shepherd Sisters are no longer there, our dedicated Lay Mission Partners, volunteers and board members look forward to continuing the Good Shepherd mission of treating each resident just as Jesus would: with compassion, dignity and love.

A new purple plum tree is now growing on the grounds of Chicago House of the Good Shepherd to acknowledge the transfer of leadership from Sisters of the Good Shepherd to Catholic Charities. The tree was planted during a simple ceremony on May 28 to symbolize the deep roots and on-going presence of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

Sharon O'Grady

Sharon O'Grady

Sister Sharon O'Grady grew up in Denver, Colorado, and entered the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in St. Louis in 1961. She has worked in a number of ministries including those dedicated to helping adolescent girls with problems, addictive women, women in prison and homeless families recovering from domestic violence. These ministries led her into deeper experiences of the Good Shepherd’s love for each and every person and have challenged her to become more like the Shepherd.