Good Shepherd sisters are ‘powerhouse of prayer’
This is part of a series on communities of women religious in St. Louis and how they live out their charism here and in the world. We encourage you to join in the conversation on what St. Louis sisters mean to you by following the #STLSisters hashtag on Twitter.
When St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier founded the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in France in 1831, she envisioned the contemplative community as a “powerhouse of prayer.”
That description holds true even today. In St. Louis, there are seven sisters who live in community, their lives dedicated to prayer, on the campus of Marygrove in Florissant, which serves at-risk youths. (An additional five sisters are in the community’s infirmary at the provincial house in Normandy.)
The sisters’ sprawling convent overlooks the Missouri River. The peaceful setting also is home to various animals, whom the sisters have befriended, including raccoons, squirrels, deer and even a family of groundhogs.
The contemplative sisters consider themselves the complementary piece to the apostolic Good Shepherd Sisters, who are involved in ministries primarily with women and children, here and around the world. Together, the two branches are members of the Congregation of the Good Shepherd.
Sister Sharon Rose, community leader of the contemplative sisters, explained that both branches share the same mission of reconciliation, which is expressed through the community’s charism of merciful love.
Maintaining contact with the active sisters “helps us focus outward,” she said. “How do we know what to pray for if we don’t know what’s going on” in the world.
The contemplative sisters spend time together in prayer five times a day, with additional opportunities for individual prayer and reflection. They generally receive prayer requests via fax, phone calls and emails from the public throughout the week.
The other work that keeps them busy is making altar breads for parishes in the St. Louis Archdiocese and beyond. In 1999, the sisters were chosen to make the altar breads for Blessed John Paul II’s papal visit to St. Louis.
They work on altar breads Monday through Friday, putting in a good three to five hours a day. “Monday is our busiest day,” Sister Sharon Rose said.
Sister Sharon Rose noted that the ministry gives the sisters a chance to reflect on how “beautiful it is to be touching the hosts that will become the consecrated Jesus at the Mass.”
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