Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd

History and Heritage

History and Heritage

History and Heritage

Our Journey So Far

The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd has its origins in 1641, when St. John Eudes (1601-1680) founded Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge in response to the needs of the many girls and women he met on his missionary travels throughout France.

The Congregation’s primary mission was to offer refuge and new possibilities to these girls and women who wished to escape from situations of poverty, prostitution, and other forms of exploitation.

1641 - 1813

Origins and Mission

To emphasize the importance of this mission, St. John Eudes gave the sisters a fourth vow of “zeal for the salvation of souls”.

Many communities were founded over the next 150 years, including a community in Tours. During the French Revolution, which began in 1789, all religious were disbanded, and the houses were closed. Fifteen years later, almost all the communities had re-established themselves, including the one in Tours, which was restored in 1806.

1814 - 1828

Renewed Beginnings

It was in Tours that Rose Virginie Pelletier (1796-1868) entered in 1814, receiving the name Sister Mary of Saint Euphrasia. She loved the young women and girls entrusted to her care and could see that some of these young women felt a call to give themselves totally to God.

Responding to their heartfelt desires, St. Mary Euphrasia founded the Sisters of Saint Magdalen in 1825, shortly after being elected leader of the community at Tours. The sisters lived the mission within the same convent and dedicated themselves to a life of contemplation and prayer.

1829 - 1989

Audacious for Change

In 1829, St. Mary Euphrasia established a new community of Our Lady of Charity in Angers, France. She named it “Good Shepherd” after an institution dedicated to the same work that existed in Angers before the French Revolution. Here, in 1831, she established a second community of the Sisters of Saint Magdalen.

Believing that the work and mission would proceed more efficiently under a central administration, St. Mary Euphrasia requested permission from the pope to establish a Generalate, which, after much struggle and many challenges, was granted in 1835. This new initiative resulted in the founding of the new Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd.

In parallel, the Sisters of Saint Magdalen underwent several changes, growing in their identity as contemplative sisters within an apostolic congregation.

The Road to Reunification

1990 - 2013

Meanwhile, St. John Eudes’ Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge continued to respond to requests for the mission and progressively expanded. Over the years, the convents united within the various countries and were established internationally as the Union of Our Lady of Charity in 1990.

The two congregations of St. John Eudes and St. Mary Euphrasia have remained faithful to the shared vision of their founders, with many interactions between them in relation to mission and spirituality, with programs and projects being created together. The ways of responding to mission developed in response to the reality of the times. Structural transformation, advocacy, justice, and peace and reconciliation initiatives continued to be an integral part of the ministries.

By 2006, a process for considering integration of the two congregations began. Through a Journey of Enrichment in which history, spirituality, and charism were shared, a decision was reached for reunification through merger.

Our Journey of Enrichment

On June 27, 2014, after a 179-year separation, the merger decree came into effect, and the two congregations reunified under the name of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. We continue to work for the full integration of all the sisters in light of the reunification process.

"It's not enough that you love them, they must know that you love them"

St. Mary Euphrasia

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our global presence

Africa and Middle East

Kenya, Congo, South Sudan, Uganda

Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion

Senegal, Burkina Faso 


Belgium, France, Hungary, Netherlands

Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain

Latin America

Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Honduras

Brazil, Paraguay