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Mary Euphrasia Pelletier

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Mary Euphrasia Pelletier

Saint Mary Euphrasia
Born (1796-07-31)July 31, 1796
Noirmoutier, France
Died April 29, 1868(1868-04-29)
Angers, France
Canonized 2 May 1940 by Pope Pius XII
Feast 24 April

Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier (1796 - 1868) - French Roman Catholic nun, known for founding the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd.

She was born on an island off the coast of France where her parents had been exiled by the French Revolutionaries. She was christened Rose Virginie Pelletier and at the age of eighteen joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity who cared for girls and women in difficulty. Some of the girls were abandoned by their families or orphaned, some had turned to prostitution in order to survive. The Sisters provided shelter, food, vocational training and an opportunity for these girls and women to turn their lives around. Mother Euphrasia formed the congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd to expand this apostolate to wherever needed.

She died in Angers, France in 1868 and was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1940. Her feast day in April 24.

Biography

She was born on Noirmoutier a small island off the northwest coast of France, on 31 July 1796, and received in baptism the name of Rose Virginie.[1] She was the 8th child of Dr Julian and Anne Pelletier. [2] Her father died when she was ten years old. In 1810 her mother placed Rose Virginie in a boarding school in Tours. Her mother died in 1813; Rose Virginie did not learn of her mother’s death until after the funeral. [2]

Near the boarding school was the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge, a religious Congregation founded by St John Eudes to provide care and protection for women and girls who were homeless and at risk of exploitation. Despite her guardian's reservations Rose Virginie was allowed to join the sisters provided that she not make her vows before she turned 21.[2] She made her profession in 1816, taking the name of Mary Euphrasia. The sisters of the community had been dispersed at one point during the revolution; the majority had been imprisoned. Rose Virginie joined what was a community of elderly weary sisters.[3] A short time after her profession, she became first mistress of the penitents, and about eight years later was made superioress of the house of Tours. [4] She founded a community for women who wanted to have a contemplative life-style and would support, by their ministry of prayer, the different works of the Congregation.[1]

Good Shepherd Sisters

The city of Angers asked that Sr. Mary Euphrasia establish a House of Refuge there. She established a house in an old factory and called it "Bon Pasteur" (Good Shepherd). In 1831 she was appointed Superior of the House in Angers. The congregation in Tours did not wish to expand to Angers, nor did the house in Nantes. John Eudes had established his houses as separate and autonomous. Mary Euphrasia came to believe that if the work was to grow, that each house should be under the direction of a Generalate. In April 1835 Pope Gregory XVI granted approval of the mother-house at Angers for the institute known as Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd of Angers. Houses that developed for Angers would be part of the institute while those houses that did not attach themselves to the General Administration would remain Refuges. The development of the Generalate made possible the sending of the sisters to wherever they were needed. The institute is directly subject to the Holy See; Cardinal Odescalchi was its first cardinal-protector.[3]

For a long time, Sr. Mary Euphrasia had to deal with the opposition of the Bishop of Angers, who wished to exercise the authority of Superior General, although the constitutions of the order did not provide for this. She was accused of ambition, of innovation, and of disobedience. Sometimes she was put in the position of addressing conflicting instructions from Rome and the bishop. Although she had the support of Rome, the local clergy tended to keep their distance from someone who had incurred the bishop's displeasure. According to Sr. Norma O'Shea, the bishop's opposition, coupled with the deaths of a number of sisters and longtime supporters, made Sr. Mary Euphrasia's last years very lonely.[3]

Mother Euphrasia devoted herself to the work entrusted to her. By 1868, she was Superior General of 3,000 religious, in 110 convents, in sixteen provinces. She died of cancer on April 24, 1868.[3] She is buried on the property of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Angers, France.[5]

By the time of her death in 1868, she had established 110 centers in 35 countries, including North America.[6]

Canonisation

On 11 December 1897, Pope Leo XIII declared her "Venerable." She was beatified on 30 April 1933 and canonised on 2 May 1940 by Pope Pius XII.[7]

Quotations of Mary Euphrasia Pelletier

  • "Though old stars burn out and die, look to the new and even beyond."[8]
  • "Go after the lost sheep without other rest than the cross, other consolation than work, other thirst than for justice."
  • "You have to adapt to all circumstances. Do the best you can, while remembering that, according to the spirit of our calling, we must be everything to everyone."
  • "Do well all that you do."
  • "A person is of more value than the whole world."[8]
  • " Let your light shine."

Legacy

Approximately 5500 Sisters', active and contemplative, serve in 72 countries.[5]

References

External links

  • HandCrafting Justice
  • Good Shephered Volunteers
  • National Advocacy Center
  • Good Shepherd Mediation Program


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