Strong commitment to women in prison

About

I was born in Australia in 1936, entered the Good Shepherd Sisters in 1956.

I was drawn to the Good Shepherd Sisters through my aunt Kath, one of Dad’s sisters.  She was a Good Shepherd Sister, Mary of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.

I have such a sense of gratitude for all that I have been given and all that I still receive.  I was born into a family who loved deeply.  Also the gift of faith that has given me strength every day of my life. 

'One Person is of more Value than the World.'  St. Mary Euphrasia.

In Good Shepherd

One time a woman said to me:  'Well I must let you go, I have taken enough of your time.'  My response was: 'Do you know, that at this very time, the most important person in my life is YOU.' 

Pastoral care for me is to be present to the person I am with and to support and help to bring meaning and purpose to her life.  It is to believe in the ultimate value of the human person before God. 

It is to endeavour to provide a confidential sounding board on both personal and family concerns.

I consider it to be of great importance to be a non-judgemental presence providing a source of hope for those who may be overcome by pain and distress at all times.

The Challenges

When Deer Park Women's Prison was to replace Fairlea Women's Prison I was walking through a unit and the women were discussing the move and what it was going to mean for them.  I walked in and one of the women said:  'Oh I don't care where we go, wherever it is, you will come with us, Sister Mary, won't you!'  So move with them I did, even though the travel time to the new place was over an hour compared with ten minutes. 

I have been involved in Prison Ministry for over thirty years now. Well, I could think about retiring, but a woman was returned to prison the other day on a breach of parole.  Her mother rang me to let me know she was on her way back in, and said to me: 'I am just so pleased you are still there.  You cannot retire you know!'

The Inspiration

I often love to use the Gospel story of the Woman at the Well.  And invite the women to enter into the story and really be that woman.  It is powerful, not only for them, but for me too. 

They are not women to be locked away and forgotten.  The day for their release will come and I ask the question: 'How ready are we to accept them back in society and assist them to live out their lives with dignity and to value their own self worth?'

Some time ago I received a card - I would like to quote something from the card:          

"I was 'browsing' the net and was overjoyed to find an article about you winning the "Spirit of St. Mary Euphrasia" award.  I read the article with such a smile on my face and with such appreciation of you.  I know I am not the only woman you 'turned around'.  I remember, with such gratitude, you coming to the Alfred Hospital when our baby died.  You have certainly made a difference to me!  You accepted and did not judge.  You never made me feel worthless, but to the contrary, empowered me.”

What a happy note to finish on! 

We are all called to

Act justly

Love tenderly, and

Walk humbly with our God.  Micah 6:8

Projects

Report from the Asia Pacific Partnership Team

Report from the Asia Pacific Partnership Team

Comprehensive overview from the GSAPP team - how Good Shepherd Partnership for Mission is developing in this region

Reconciliation in Australia

Reconciliation in Australia

Reconciliation holds special meaning in the Australian nation - it describes the long journey towards full acknowledgment of the rights of the Indigenous Peoples