CSFN in England, France and Italy
Jesus the Good Shepherd leads the communities of the Western European Province and gathers its members into His strong arms. Over 80 sisters live, pray and work in Italy, France and England, and two of our sisters minister in territories outside the Province, one in Ghana, and the second in the Holy Land - Nazareth, Israel. The Province, unique in the Congregation’s geographical structure in that it spreads across three countries in Western Europe, was erected by the decision of the General Administration in 2003. The official inauguration of the Province took place March 16, 2003. Although the Province itself has quite a short history, its houses and communities can boast chronicles that make up the first pages of the history of the Congregation during the times of our Mother Foundress. In fact, from Rome she carried Nazareth to England and France, establishing the first communities there.
The majority of the sisters – around 90% – live and work outside their country of origin. Therefore, we are often missionaries in "our own house”. This is an essential feature of our young Province. The sisters come from different provinces: Polish, American and English. There are, on the other hand, sisters for whom the Province of Jesus the Good Shepherd is their province of origin; they entered here, had their initial formation here, and professed vows here. There are many diverse life styles, cultural customs and generational differences among us. These differences enrich us, though it requires extraordinary commitment of heart and mind from all the members of the Province to live in three culturally diverse countries.
One of the names used for our province is the "Western European Province”. The name clearly shows the context in which we live and minister. In countries which formerly held Christianity as their basic religious belief, we now see an influx of people of different cultures, different beliefs and creeds. Therefore, openness to, and acceptance of these people, and respect for these differences is an important challenge in living the Gospel. At present the Province has eight communities.
The beginnings of the Motherhouse on via Machiavelli in Rome go back to 1884. It is in this house that our Mother Foundress began to shape our Congregation; it is here where she breathed her last and returned to her heavenly Father's House. Every corner of the house speaks of her presence. It is this house which is presently the Provincialate of the Western European Province.
Sisters who live here work in a variety of ministries: conducting a nursery/kindergarten, preparing Papal blessings, offering hospitality to guests, helping the poor. One sister also works as a sacristan in the hospital.
The fact that the Generalate of the Congregation is situated in the Province of Jesus the Good Shepherd is another unique feature of this Province. The Generalate community is involved in ministry to students of Duquesne University's "study abroad" program (two semesters of students per academic year). Additionally, the sisters take care of the Congregational archives, welcome guests and various groups, catechize children from a nearby parish and prepare papal blessings. This house is also home to the Congregation’s General Administration.
The house in Loreto – so dear to our Foundress – is a Pilgrim house. The small community of Nazareth sisters living there hosts many people who wish to stop at the Sanctuary of the Holy House of Nazareth. More details about this house can be found at: www.loretonazaret.eu
The fourth of our Italian homes is in Pozza di Fassa. This convent, opened in August 2013, is located in northern Italy, in the beautiful Val di Fassa (Dolomites), in the Diocese of Trento. The sisters are passionately engaged in the pastoral life of the parish. They visit families and work in the Church. One Sister also teaches religion in the school.
In France we can meet Nazareth sisters in 3 locations:
In Paris – where for several decades the sisters have been running an international foyer for young people pursuing higher education.
In Bagneux (outskirts of Paris) – where, in more modest conditions, but with lots of apostolic enthusiasm, the sisters minister among young women who come to France to study or find work. The sisters are also actively involved in teaching religion in parishes and working together with a group of Associates of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
In Lourdes – in a home belonging to the Polish Catholic Mission, the sisters provide warm Nazareth hospitality for all pilgrims who come to pray at Our Lady's Grotto. One sister serves the poor and is a prison chaplain.
One house in England – in Enfield (London), where the sisters who previously ministered in our schools in Enfield and in Pitsford live, and who today, as much as possible, are involved in the life and the current needs of the local Church. One sister continues to work in the Catholic school. Enfield is also a place where the sisters join in the pastoral care of Polish immigrants through the catechesis of young children because our convent chapel serves as the Polish parish Church. Our chapel also serves the Maronite community who come to celebrate Sunday Eucharist. The house for many years has also been open to sisters from other countries who come to study the English language.
Our ministries in Jesus the Good Shepherd Province are seen as a way of responding to the needs of the Church. By giving common witness to a life lived according to the Gospel of Jesus, building communities of love and hope in our corner of the world, we learn again and again every day to build up the family of God.
We know that we have our home in Jesus, the Word made flesh, who desires ultimately to lead all of us to the Father’s House.