Chapel of The Good Shepherd
The first Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd of Angers arrived in Malta in 1859.
After the establishment of the Generalate in 1835, the expansion of the “Good Shepherd” around the world was prodigious, indeed miraculous. In 1838 the Sisters arrived in Rome, Italy; then came Munich in Germany, followed by London in Great Britain. On the 24th April 1843 the Sisters arrived in Mustapha, close to Alger and by October 1843 they settled in El-Biar, Algeria. Writing to them, Mary Euphrasia addresses them as “My children of the kingdom of Africa”. She was profoundly attracted by Africa and was ready to face all obstacles in order “to save souls” and ransom the poor little black girls who were cruelly sold at the markets of North Africa.
In 1845 the “Good Shepherd” arrived in Cairo, Egypt to help Fr. Gian Battista Olivieri, the great missionary priest from Genoa who used to travel back and forth to Alexandria and Cairo “ to buy” little children thus freeing them from slavery. It was at the sight of such misery that Mary Euphrasia had decided to open a House in Egypt where these “little ones” could be taken care of and be spared the long painful voyage to Europe where, very often, at their arrival, they died out of exhaustion and hunger.
Encouraged by the flourishing mission in Egypt, Mary Euphrasia, in 1846 sent her Sisters to Tripoli, Libya. Due to insurmountable difficulties in this Islamic environment this mission did not last more than ten years. They were compelled to go elsewhere and settled in Oran and Constantin in Algeria. They also moved eastward towards Asia-Minor, in Smyrna, Turkey, where they arrived on the 21st June 1849. This foundation was made possible at the request of the local Bishop, Mgr Anthony Mussabini.
In Smyrna they opened a small boarding-school and an orphanage, just as they had done in Cairo at the request of their Bishop. However, they soon realized that, just as in Tripoli, they would have never been allowed to accept “penitents”, which was the primary goal of their mission. The Turks would have burnt their house if they had dared to accept a local young woman or a girl. Faced with hostility from both Orthodox and Moslems, the community returned westward along the Mediterranean and settled in MALTA.
How did the Sisters of the Good Shepherd come to Malta? Who invited them? How were they known by the local Church? Was their mission common to other Orders or Institutes in Malta?
According to an 1859 Circular Letter of the Mother House in Angers, the Sisters always stopped in Malta on their way to Egypt or elsewhere, if they travelled along Mediterranean. It so happened that Canon Calcedonio Falzon encountered these Sisters of the Good Shepherd on their way to Cairo and inquired about their specific mission. He was so impressed that he proposed this vocation to one of his penitents who already attracted to the religious life. Grazia Sammut, from Għargħur, liked the idea and though only 18 years old, travelled to Angers, with a companion, for the Novitiate at the Mother House in France. The Foundress, Mary Euphrasia admires the young Mediterranean girl whom she used to call “my little Maltese girl” (“ma che̕re petite Maltaise”). She could already envisage in these Maltese postulants a new foundation on the Island of St. Paul.
Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Living the vow of zeal daily, Sisters of the Good Shepherd work to bring dignity, hope and new promise to society’s most marginalised people.
Founded in France in 1835 by St. Mary Euphrasia, Good Shepherd Sisters are an international congregation of Catholic Sisters, serving in over 70 countries on five continents. Our core values of Mercy, Reconciliation, Individual Worth, and Zeal inform our every decision and call us to live our mission. In partnership with Good Shepherd People, we stand with and for all women and children, especially those in need of healing, and promote justice and healing for all of creation. We are aware of the need to respond to the changing environmental climate and the responsibility we all share to be good stewards of this earth.
Arrival in Malta
The first community of the Good Spherd Sisters arrived from North Africa and had just one member. After trying in vain to get a property in Valletta, the religious group was offered premises in Ħal Balzan, which they accepted and where eventually they established the convent.
The property continued to be added to, and within a few years, besides a spacious convent, the order also built a large and elegant church that is seen today. All the work that was done by the architects was offered free of charge, as everyone admired the work carried out by the charitable institution.
The religious community started to welcome girls and women in need of temporary shelter, and even took the children under their care. They offer pastoral help, safe shelter and education. Help is also extended to the children under their care.
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