Good Shepherd Sister Celebrates 60 Years of Religious Life

The Jubilarian with the clergy and celebrants
(From left to right:)The Rev. Philip Fabiano, OFM Cap., Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Manhattan; METROPOLITAN STEPHAN; The Jubiliarian, Sr. M. Grace Valenti, RGS.; Archbishop MICHAEL; Mr. Edward L. Champion. (Not Pictured: The Rev. Bede Mulligan, O Carm., principal celebrant of the Liturgy.)

Sister Mary Grace Valenti, RGS. celebrated 60 years as a Sister of the Good Shepherd on Saturday, May 20, 2000, at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston, Queens, New York. A Liturgy of Thanksgiving was celebrated in the IMC Chapel by the Rev. Bede Mulligan, O Carm., a personal chaplain to the Good Shepherd Sisters and a childhood friend of Sr. M. Grace.

Following the concelebrated Liturgy, a festive reception was held in the IMC banquet hall, attended by nearly 200 people. Among the clergy attending the Jubilee were Metropolitan STEPHAN and Archbishop MICHAEL of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The Immaculate Conception Center is a multi-purpose pastoral center operated by the Diocese of Brooklyn, NY. It houses conference and banquet facilities, a seminary residence program as well as various diocesan and episcopal offices.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd The Good Shepherd Sisters, formally known as the "Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd of Angers", was founded in France in the 19th. century, by St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier in order to respond to the growing social needs in the period following the French Revolution. The order quickly grew and opened houses throughout the world, working particularly with troubled girls and other youth in a spirit of "re-education" so that they could become contributing members of society.

Icon of St. Mary EuphrasiaMary Euphrasia was formed spiritually and pastorally by the writings of St. John Eudes, St. Francis De Sales and other greats of the French School of theology. She entered the convent of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge in Tours, France, which had been founded by John Eudes.

Mary Euphrasia soon developed the ardent desire to see houses of the Refuge spread to many locations where the sisters could work to save the souls of those who were oppressed and troubled. Eventually, the convents of the Refuge under her direction were organized into a single congregation, with the approval of the Holy See in 1835. The Mother House is in Angers, France, the first Refuge opened by Mary Euphrasia herself.

Mother M. Euphrasia also developed a contemplative sector of the Order, called until Vatican II, the "Sisters Magdalens" mostly for the former "girls" who wished to pursue a religious vocation. St. Mary Euphrasia PelletierTheir rule is based on that of the Carmelites and they are now referred to as the "Contemplative Sisters of the Good Shepherd". At the time of her death on April 24, 1868, there were 110 Good Shepherd houses. The heroicity of the virtues of this inspired Servant of God was formally promulgated in 1924. Mary Euphrasia was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1933 and canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1940. Today, there are 7,000 Good Shepherd Sisters in over 60 countries.

Born in Sicily and raised in Queens, NY, Sr. Mary Grace Valenti has served in many different capacities during her 60 years in the Good Shepherd Congregation, including positions in Rome, where she helped to open a new Provincialate on the Via Bravetta in 1952, directress of novices and superior of the Contemplative Sisters. During troubled political times in Italy in the period after World War II, she and some of her sisters were forced to flee to Malta to escape persecution. Currently, she is house superior of the Good Shepherd convent in Yorktown Heights, NY and serves as a Eucharistic Minister in area hospitals and nursing homes.

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