ST. MARY EUPHRASIA was born on the island of Noirmoutier, off the coast of France, on July 31st, 1796. She was the ninth child of Dr Julien Pelletier and his wife Anne. Two years
earlier, during the French Revolution, the Pelletiers had been deported from Soullans to Normoutier as “suspects”, leaving their five remaining children in the care of their grand-parents. Although later released, the couple were forced to stay on the island. Since there was no priest on the island, Dr Pelletier baptised his daughter himself.
In 1815 a young French woman, Rose Virginie Pelletier, joined the Sisters of the Refuge, an innovative community Founded in France, in 1641, by a progressive priest, Father John Eudes. These women provided shelter to homeless women who were social outcasts.
Rose Virginie too the name of “Sister Mary Euphrasia.” She brought new life to a community that had been devastated by the French Revolution. At age 29 she was elected Mother Superior. She founded a contemplative community, then called “The Magdalens,” and today known as the “Contemplative Sisters of the Good Shepherd.”
Mother Euphrasia began to reflect on the social conditions that had occurred in the wake of the French and Industrial Revolutions. Massive migrations to the city and the disruption of family life left great numbers of homeless children in need of care.
Mother Euphrasia fostered numerous and varied programs, designed to meet the needs of various groups of women and children. She also recognized the universal demand for this work and in 1835 she established a new, international community. “The Sisters of the Good Shepherd,” modeled on the compassionate ministry of Jesus the Good Shepherd. In her lifetime, she established 110 communities, expanding the outreach to every continent.