Historical Perspective

The Sisters of the Good Shepherd, an international Congregation of religious Sisters, was founded in 1835 by a young French woman, Rose Virginia Pelletier (Saint Mary Euphrasia). She was a woman of vision and compassionate understanding who believed that love for individuals would awaken in them a sense of dignity and self-worth. Her motto was: “A person is of more value than a world.”

In 1842, some of the sisters came to the United States to open the first Good Shepherd Community in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1867, five sisters were sent to Boston to establish a program for women in need. The Sisters opened the House of The Good Shepherd on Huntington Avenue in 1870 where they remained for 94 years serving women experiencing difficulty in family and society. In 1946 Archbishop Cushing purchased property on Jamaica Way, which helped the Sisters open two residences for women. In the 1960’s, the Sisters moved all their locations out to Marlboro, Massachusetts where a residential treatment center was completed in October 1964 and named Madonna Hall for Girls.

St. Mary Euphrasia

St. Mary Euphrasia

Although the residence center for girls closed in June of 1985, Marlboro became the central location for the sisters in the Boston area and is in use to this day as a retirement home. In 1982, the first Maria Droste Services, sponsored by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd was established in New York City. The agency was named in honor of the Blessed Maria Droste, a Good Shepherd Sister born in Munster, Germany, and known for her loving service to persons in need from all walks of life and of all ages who were experiencing difficulties.

Realizing the need for this type of agency in the Greater Boston Area, in 1992 Sr. Joanne Westwater opened the second Maria Droste Services to provide mental health counseling in Quincy, Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter, Maria Droste Services expanded by adding a holistic therapy component to the agency. By the mid-1990s Sr.Lorraine Bernier ran the mission and we were staffed by six sisters and several volunteer clinicians. Today, we are fortunate to have Sr. Elish McPartland on staff full time and who has been with us for more than 20 years along with four full time staff and 16 part-time and volunteer clinicians who provide mental health therapy, substance use counseling, and holistic therapy services such as Reiki and Cranio-Sacral therapy. Michael Shanahan is the first non-Sister to lead Maria Droste and he began in June 2013 after the sudden death of Sr. Lorraine just seven weeks before. Although now we are mostly a “lay” staff, we all resonate strongly with the values that the Sisters lived and live to this day. DSC_0035Maria Droste Counseling Services continues to be committed to serving uninsured, low-income individuals and families no matter their background or religious beliefs. Today the Sisters have missions in 73 countries all over the world in places where human suffering is great and the need for compassionate services is acute.