In this new millennium, the RGS seeks to proclaim the Good News that the Good Shepherd cares yesterday, today and forever
Fate did not bring me to the Good Shepherd Sisters healing and renewal house in Tagaytay City. It was my good friend, a Good Shepherd Sister herself, Sr. Leah Ann Espina, who recommended to me that I pay a visit to “Maryridge”. And I did. Sr. Leah Ann will profess her final vow next year and I wanted to see for myself what it’s like to be amongst the presence of other sisters.
Indeed, a day at Maryridge Healing and Renewal House located at Iruhin West, Tagaytay City is not enough time for anyone who wants to meditate and reflect on one’s life. It is recommended that those who wanted to visit the place should at least stay for not less than three days so as to fully appreciate not only the natural beauty of the place overlooking the Taal Volcano but as well as to commune with God and nature. Staying at Maryridge gives one a sense of serenity and inner peace. I can attest to that.
Maranatha.Maryridge Healing and Renewal House is a venue for recollections and retreats operated by the Good Shepherd Sisters (GSS). The renewal house used to be a school for kindergarten to high school when it started in July 2, 1958. But since it was difficult to maintain a school as fewer students enrol and most of them were actually scholars of the school, the Good Shepherd Sisters decided that it was wise to convert the school into a healing and renewal house in 1985.
Since then, on-going renovations have been made on the renewal house building. The 3-hectare land of the Maryridge has two major buildings, the Maryridge Healing and Renewal House and the building of the Apostolic Nuncio. At present, nine sisters of the GSS and 22 lay staff are assigned in the renewal house building.
The Chapel.The renewal house building has a chapel, a Zen Center, 2 oratories in the 4-storey building, prayer nooks and kiosks, 2 dining halls which can accommodate 120 persons, a conference hall which can accommodate 120 persons and a function room for 40 persons. The renewal house also has other amenities like a solemn prayer room, a relaxing balcony and clean bedrooms with private shower room as well as bedrooms with common shower rooms. Outside of the renewal house building are 3 hermitages: “Immanuel”, “Kaloob”, and “Fiat”. There is also the “Bahay ni San Juan Eudes”, a 2-storey building ideal for retreat or recollection for a small group of fifteen people. Within Maryridge’s property, there is the “Maranatha”, an open space for reflection overlooking Taal, Rachel’s well and Jacob’s well, which are two wishing wells and the “Labyrinth”, a maze-like garden.
Rachel’s Well.In the 80’s, the Good Shepherd Sisters has started with its project, “Tulong Paaral” (Educational Scholarships) where they send poor children to school from elementary, high school and/or college. These poor children though have to come from within their area as members of their basic ecclesiastical community in Tagaytay City. Outreach programs to families in its neighboring communities are likewise included in the ministry of the Good Shepherd Sisters.
For 10 years now, Sr. Rose Tapia, Coordinator of the Maryridge Healing and Renewal House shares, “Those who are interested to become nuns or perhaps, they feel that they have a calling can come and see us. We have this Aspirancy Program in Katipunan, Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City up to after a year to help them discern on why God is calling them.”
Bahay ni San Juan Eudes.The Good Shepherd Sisters has over 160 nuns in the Philippines alone. Sr. Tapia explains that the congregation has a Postulancy program for a year at the same time they have a Novitiate program for 2 years where the sisters are called “novices”. After they have completed the two-year Novitiate program, they will profess their First Vows. Every year thereafter for five years, as junior sisters, they will renew their vows. When they are ready to make their final commitment, the junior sister will then make her Perpetual Profession.
The sisters are provided with continuing education through modular classes as well as inter-novitiate programs with different congregation. For junior sisters, they are given opportunities to have theological studies and are also sent to foreign mission as requirement for final vows.
St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier is the French founder of the Good Shepherd Congregation in 1835. The first Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) missionaries came to the Philippines in 1912. They were Irish Sisters who came from their mission in Burma (Myanmar). They crossed the seas for the young students who needed a Shepherd’s care through education in a Catholic School. They opened St. Bridget’s Academy (now St. Bridget’s College) in Batangas.
As the years went on, the meaning of salvation of souls was expanded to embrace the girls and women who were to be protected from moral danger or who needed help to reform their lives. The Sisters started the first Good Shepherd home in 1921 in Sta. Ana, Manila.
In this new millennium, the RGS seeks to proclaim the Good News that the Good Shepherd cares yesterday, today and forever. Living out its specific orientation to girls and women, they continuously strive to serve them in the context of the family and the society in which they live following the Good Shepherd who leads His flock all to “FULLNESS OF LIFE”.
For further information and donations to the Good Shepherd Sisters, please contact Maryridge Healing and Renewal House at (046) 483-1346, Fax (046) 483-4287, mobile numbers 0921-827-8399 or 0915-858-1591 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org