Celebrating the Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec
“The Good Shepherd Sisters are a big deal.”
That sentiment, expressed by Carey Nason, executive director of Saint André Home, summed up the feelings of many who gathered in Wells on Sunday, April 30, for a brunch celebrating the long commitment of the Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec to the people of Maine.
“The Good Shepherd Sisters have been leaders in adoption and family-based services. They have been leaders in providing care for women and their children. They have been leaders in providing support for survivors of human trafficking and domestic and sexual violence,” Nason said.
The Good Shepherd Sisters first arrived in Biddeford in 1882, coming to Maine from Quebec to teach French-speaking children.
In 1940, however, they responded to another need. In the spirit of their foundress, Marie Fitzbach Roy, they opened St. André Home to serve unwed mothers. It would be the first of many ways St. André Home would serve women and children through the years. In 1954, St. André became a licensed adoption agency. In the 1970s, it operated group homes to help unmarried women. And today, it operates CourageLIVES, which provides a wide range of services for survivors of human trafficking, exploitation, and sexual and domestic abuse, as well as support for their families.
“St. André Home has journeyed through these 80-plus years because of the Good Shepherd Sisters who, in 1940, were willing to risk the unknown, took a farm, cleared it, and raised money to build a place where young women who were rejected because they were pregnant and not married could go, be accepted, and be helped with dignity and loving dedication during their pregnancy,” said Sister Terry Gauvin, regional director of the Good Shepherd Sisters. “St. André Home has adapted its programs as society has changed but never its focus of serving women, children, and families in need."
“Through St. André Home, we strive to carry out the values and legacy of the Good Shepherd Sisters. First and foremost, we promote the value of human dignity,” said Nason. “We have seen time and time again how people have been mistreated, as if they do not have inherent value, but yet, with the right support, we see people not only grow but flourish.”
Two women who are flourishing thanks to the support of CourageLIVES spoke at the celebratory brunch, sharing how the program changed their lives.
“I got accepted into CourageLIVES, and I’ve had over three years of sobriety today. I owe thanks to all of you women for that. You sisters never gave up on me, showing me that I do have a higher power that’s always going to guide me, no matter if I make good or bad decisions. Jesus gave his life for that,” said one of the women. “I just want to thank you for all the strength and for all the relationships that I’ve made out of this. You are all beautiful women, and you guys save lives. I am living proof of that.”
“I can handle situations today with my son, with my family life, with my friend life that I never could before, and I owe it to you,” said the second woman assisted by CourageLIVES. “I am here with my son today because of you guys. There is nothing else to it.”
In addition to the work of Saint André Home, the Good Shepherd Sisters also operate the Esther Residence, which assists women from around the state who are transitioning to society after having been incarcerated. During the celebratory brunch, Sister Joanne Roy, SCIM, the director, spoke about some of her experiences there.
Sister Terry said because the sisters are aging, it was wonderful to gather and celebrate their work and legacy, as well as to have the opportunity to thank all those who have helped the sisters through the years.
“Thank you always seems like a small phrase for all that is in my heart and those of the Good Shepherd Sisters, but we have something to offer you, a gift, and that is our continued prayers of gratitude to the Lord for you and those who continue to support us,” she said. “When things are not going well for you, just remind the Lord that the Good Shepherd Sisters are praying for you.”
If you would like to learn more about or support Saint André Home and the work of CourageLIVES, visit https://couragelivesme.org.
Saint André Home is also supported by your gifts to the annual Catholic Appeal.