Province of Ireland-Ethiopia
(Saint) Justin de Jacobis, Bishop of Abyssinia (the ancient name of Ethiopia) met the Good Shepherd Sisters in Cairo, Egypt. He was so impressed with the sisters and their work, that he wrote to St. Mary Euphrasia in 1846, asking for a community of Sisters to be established in his Vicariate.
Mary Euphrasia’s affirmative response did not reach him until 9 years later. (Our postal service has improved considerably since then!) For several reasons it was not possible to begin a foundation until many years later.
The first Good Shepherd Sister arrived in Ethiopia in 1971. Sr. Bernadette Fox, Superior General, requested the Irish Province to take responsibility for the mission in Ethiopia in 1974. At this time there was a Communist coup and Emperor Haile Selassie and his government were overthrown. The resulting turmoil made it difficult for the sisters to begin their own ministries, but as more missionaries arrived from Ireland and other countries, projects focusing on badly needed help for women and children were initiated. The Province of Ireland has provided generous financial support to Ethiopia over the years, making it possible to continue our charism – “To nurture life, hope and liberation through a compassionate presence.”
There are presently 5 sisters in Ethiopia and each has written a brief description of her ministry. We are ever mindful of the pioneering work of the valiant sisters who began this mission, and all those who served here over the years. Our feelings are expressed in the words of a song by Joyce Johnson Rouse:
I am standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before me
I am stronger for their courage. I am wiser for their words.
I am lifted by their longing for a fair and brighter future
I am grateful for their vision, for their toiling on this Earth.
We are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us
They are saints and they are humans, they are angels, they are friends.
We can see beyond the struggles and the troubles and the challenge
When we know that by our efforts, things will be better in the end.