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Who participated in the meeting?

Sr Noreen O’Shea, Coordinator, Congregational Spirituality Centre, Angers (Chair)

Sr Hanan Youssef, Lebanon/Syria (Continental Link Person, RIMOA)

Sr Irma Del Valle Gallo, Argentina and now based at the Congregational Spirituality Centre (Continental Link Person, South America)

Sr Raquel Toledo Contemplative Sister, Canada (Continental Link Person, North America)

Ms Melinda Stricklen, Mid North America (Mission Partner, Continental and Province Link Person, North America)

Ms Jane Marie Ng, Singapore-Malaysia, (Mission Partner, Province Link Person)

Sr Vivienne Fernando Contemplative Sister, Ireland (Province Link Person)

Sr Pelagie Ratsaramananjato, The Isles (Province Link Person)

Sr Maria Los Morales Rodas Contemplative Sister, International Contemplative Community, Angers

Sr Caroline Price, Australia/Aotearoa New Zealand (Continental Link Person, Asia Pacific) (Minutes)

Sr Anne Josephine Carr (CLT Link Person), in attendance, and translated French/English.

Sr Odile Laughier (consultant) Province of BFMN Europe (present on Thursday 22 May).

(Photograph Left to Right: Pelagie, Caroline, Jane, Irma, Noreen, Odile, Anne Josephine, Hanan, Vivienne, Melinda, Raquel, Maria Los)

About the work of the Committee to date

The Congregational Spirituality Committee has been meeting since 2010. The Four Aspects of the work of the Congregational Spirituality Committee grew out of a 2009 session on Spirituality. That session made certain recommendations to the Congregational Leadership Team which led to the establishment of the Congregational Spirituality Committee, to work with the Congregational Spirituality Centre.

Outcomes of this meeting

Initiative 1. Develop a coordinating body to develop a worldwide spirituality network

The set up of the Congregational Spirituality Committee to work with the Spirituality Centre based in Angers, is part of this initiative. Naming continental link persons, and province link persons for spirituality was another part. For us here in Asia Pacific this began after the last Intercontinental Assembly and we were well established before other parts of the Congregation. Our meeting in Indonesia in March 2013 brought us together, and has kept us in touch ever since.

Initiative 2. Research and Translation, Sharing Resources

The workshop held in Indonesia on the database of material and human resources was the big project for this initiative. An update given to us by the Congregational Archivist shows that some provinces have yet to fully respond. And in the next few weeks, those provinces will receive a request from Sr Noreen regarding this. The database has been a big project and will be the first time that we as a Congregation have this information all together in one place.

Initiative 3. Shepherding in 21st Century

Sr Noreen O’Shea, Coordinator of the Congregational SpiritualityCentre, had worked with a theologian on a series of resource reflections on Shepherding in the 21st Century. These were developed to share with the Congregation. However, they have been ‘on hold’ because we have had other reflections and papers regarding the Journey of Enrichment and preparation for the Province Chapters and Congregational Chapter. These reflections may be developed into retreat resources, and eventually they will be available on the Congregational website.

Initiative 4. New ways of seeing our spirituality and identity in the light of the cosmological perspective

During the previous meeting of the Spirituality Committee in Argentina, a workshop was held with Sister Gail Worcelo. Gail had worked with the Contemplative Sisters at their Contemplative Intercontinental Assembly in Quito, Ecuador in 2008. And the Contemplative Council requested the Spirituality Committee to work on this initiative, on their behalf. It has taken time to get these resources together, but now the Notes and a powerpoint resource are available on the international website:

Extensive notes were taken by Sr Noreen O'Shea during the workshop. If you or the sisters in your unit would like more information, please contact Sr Noreen O'Shea at the Congregational Spirituality Centre.

You can also look at the website for Sr Gail Worcelo: It describes the work she does and what the monastery stands for. There is a YouTube clip available:

Using Resources

These resources are useful for retreats, reflections on our relationship with creation and our cosmos, in the light of the challenges we face on our planet.

Other resources are being developed

  • 1. In the next few months a series of reflections on Blessed Maria Droste will be circulated. We are encouraged to use these in our communities and units as appropriate, in support of the journey towards canonisation.
  • 2. Resources from the international retreats held at the Spirituality Centre and Mother house during 2012 and 2013 are also now available on the international website.
  • 3. The letter from the meeting of the Committee will be sent later in June to your Provinces. We know that there are a lot of new Provincials and new Leadership Teams.
  • 4. And this is an important time for us as Province Link Persons to make ourselves known to the new Province Leadership, and share with them what we do! The Role Description for Province Link Persons is a good resource for this.

Message from Caroline Price

We have a wealth of resources at our fingertips now!

I hope that you find this information helpful for your work of animating spirituality at the Province level. We are all living these days in the Spirit of Pentecost... may the spirit of our Shepherd God continue to guide us.

Blessings and peace,

(Asia Pacific Link Person for Spirituality)


You educate a man; you educate a man.
You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”

Brigham Young

International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.

Calling for change, celebrating acts of courage

Increasingly, International Women's Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

Role of the United Nations

Over the years, the UN and its technical agencies have promoted the participation of women as equal partners with men in achieving sustainable development, peace, security, and full respect for human rights. The empowerment of women continues to be a central feature of the UN's efforts to address social, economic and political challenges across the globe.

The work for gender equality continues

International Women's Day inspires us to celebrate achievements in women’s equality and freedom worldwide. The day also brings attention to areas of continued inequality, where acts of courage and determination are still needed in order to make the world more just. Our programmes should address issues such as: domestic and gender-based violence, healthcare and education, career training and small business support. (Written by the Sisters in Mulakalapalli, India)

Click below for photos and stories about Good Shepherd events

Central East India

Multiple celebrations, full of life. For the first time, Good Shepherd Sisters in India organise a Public Hearing, in Mumbai. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Central East India.

Karjat India

Women from tribal areas gain new awareness of their rights, and enjoy the celebration. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Karjat, India.

South West India

Girls living at the crossroads of life respond with appreciation to a workshop on Self Esteem. Click here for: IWD celebrations in South West India.

Sri Lanka

Many women including factory workers enjoy receiving information, and hope of a new means of livelihood. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Sri Lanka.

South Korea

At City Hall, Sisters publicize their work and promote human rights. Click here for: IWD celebrations in South Korea.


Mission Partners listen to stories of women, promote The Trading Circle and share an Aussie barbecue. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Australia.

Aotearoa New Zealand

The Trading Circle receives a lot of support at a fundraising breakfast event. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Aotearoa/New Zealand


Girls watch an enlightening film, discuss support for each other and pray for women around the world. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Indonesia.


Women are encouraged in their role as family educators, and call for an end to government corruption. Click here for: IWD celebrations in the Philippines.


Celebrations in Sabah, Kuala Lumpur and Perak affirm human dignity, show links with social justice and present a practical twist. Click here for: IWD celebrations in Malaysia.


In Sri Lanka, Good Shepherd Sisters and other care organizations conduct residential centres offering support and rehabilitation for girls and young women experiencing disadvantage. Academic studies may be challenging for these girls, due to family difficulties and emotional burdens. Upon completing their ordinary level exam they leave residential care to return to their families, but they may lack the skills required to be truly independent. Also, this generation of young people is more and more challenged by the multitude of possibilities before them. Career guidance has become a need of our times.

What did the Sisters do?

The Sisters assessed that the girls could develop greater levels of competency and skills, within a framework of leadership development. A decision was taken in 2009 to plan a one year Residential Career Development Programme, and Seth Sevana was born. It is a Vocational Training Institute, providing one year free residential Wholistic Development Programme through Vocational and Professional Training. It operates from an existing building at the Good Shepherd Convent, Bolawalana, Negombo.

Who manages/administers the programme?

The Good Shepherd sisters in Sri Lanka manage the programme with the collaboration of international funding partners and with the support of local and foreign donors and a philanthropist. Professionally qualified lecturers are selected for each course to maintain the efficiency and high standard of the institution.

Who is the major target group?

The participants of the programme are girls and women between the ages of 16-25, from child development centres, rehabilitation centres and institutions run by Good Shepherd Sisters and others, and from remote villages.

Who benefits and how do they benefit?

The girls and women who participate in this programme all benefit from it.

The programme focuses on Career Development in order to assist the trainees to find employment or to become successful entrepreneurs. It provides a growth promoting space where girls are inspired and empowered to become strong and creative leaders in their communities.

It is a residential wholistic Professional Development Programme. As well as all Course requirements, Seth Sevana covers the costs of food and lodging, medicines and other personal requirements. At times, the Centre also meets expenses of job placement and arranging hostel facilities.

Seth Sevana is registered in the Tertiary & Vocational Education Commission of Sri Lanka (TVEC) and from the first year it has been eligible to conduct eight certificate courses and to award students with following certificates:

  • » Certificate course in Computer Application Assistant
  • » Certificate course in Bakery
  • » Certificate course in Beautician
  • » Certificate course in General Cookery
  • » Certificate course in Hair stylist
  • » Certificate course in Tailor
  • » Certificate course in Home gardening
  • » Certificate course in Needle work & Hand work.

The Academic year runs from May to April and is followed by a period of 6 months on the job training.

Seth Sevana is also accredited to TVEC and its programmes have received National Competency. Students who are successful in this programme will be awarded the nationally and internationally recognized National Vocational Qualificational (NVQ) certificate, which is an excellent opportunity for those who discontinue schooling early. Apart from other common subjects, choice is given to the students to follow two or three NVQ subjects.

Seth Sevana is eligible to conduct NVQ examinations in these five subjects.

  • » Computer Application Assistant NVQ exams for Level 03
  • » Beautician NVQ exams for Level 03 & 04
  • » Hair Stylist NVQ exams for Level 04
  • » Tailor NVQ exams for Level 04
  • » Baker NVQ exams for Level 03

Graphics Designing Course NVQ exams for Level 04 (Awaiting accreditation.)

Other Subjects

  • » English.
  • » Dancing.
  • » Other short courses such as - Ribbon Embroidery, Needle work, soft toys, Fabric painting, Hand craft, Saree work, Jewellery making, Batik.
  • » Life Education, Counselling & Personality Development – a monthly one day workshop.

How many people are assisted?

Seth Sevana can cater for 35-38 girls each year.

Motivation and core values

‘Seth Sevana’ means Haven of Wellbeing. It expresses the core mission of Good Shepherd Sisters towards the empowerment of women and children. This was the dream of all of us in the Sri Lankan Province: to equip the girls in our residential centres with skills and training to face the future with courage before they left our homes and entered into society. This is especially needed for girls and young women who at an early stage in life have gone through struggles and have not had the opportunity to plan what they would want to be in the future. In such an environment Seth Sevana has become a green pasture and a preparation ground for them before they face the society with its challenges. Seth Sevana seeks to uplift every girl, making true the wish of our founder: ‘One person is of more value than the whole world’.

We have been able to offer restful shelter for some past students seeking to share their life experiences in a safe environment and looking for ongoing guidance. Some spend their vacation at Seth Sevana. They have a home coming experience.

Students from previous batches have learnt from life experience, still request some help and support and also take time to provide individual ‘mentoring’ for current students who are experiencing challenges. They are coming back to the sheep fold. Many of the past students are married and living a good family life.

What outcomes are achieved?

Officially the programme begins with celebration of a special Mass to invoke blessings from God for the New Year. During the year the students engage in different activities related to wholistic development: social, psychological, physical and spiritual development. The Centre also provides relevant vocational training programmes, leadership development, life skill education, spiritual nourishing activities. Exhibitions showcase their creative talents. Outings, exposure and worksite visits enhance the training programme. Resource persons conduct workshops on Group and Personality building. Motivational sessions, Career guidance and orientation to select the subjects at their discretion are also conducted.

Students engage in full day activities including social, psychological, physical and spiritual development. They have exposure to outside visits such as exhibitions and site visits to gain first hand knowledge. Recreational activities are arranged. Participants share all the responsibilities of the Centre such as cooking.

After they went for on-the-job training many Students showed interest to continue NVQ Level 4 exam.

Students who succeed in obtaining NVQ Level 4 from Seth Sevana are able to join government Technical Colleges to undertake Level 5-6 which is Diploma and Higher Diploma. Level 7 is the Degree level from Univo-tech.

Many have found good job opportunities in recognized companies with a good salary and have settled happily in their lives. 80% of the past students are settled in their career path.

Not only do we find good jobs for students, but we also continue to support them for higher studies. Many have improved in their career paths. Still we have been unable to cater to the high demand for job opportunities. Now we are creating a circle of both entrepreneurs and employers which will be useful for the future.

A few girls have proceeded with higher studies after training up to degree level and we were able to motivate sponsors to cover their educational expenses.

Much interest is shown by others, especially students from other children’s residential centres, to enter Seth Sevana for the training.

How is the programme evaluated?

Seth Sevana successfully completed 5 years in January 2014. All the students and visitors who step into Seth Sevana are amazed by its development within a short period of time. The sponsors are very satisfied with its progress and they are happily motivated to continue to fund the project. From the commencement of this programme four batches of students have passed through. Over 4 years, 121 students have successfully completed the programme and currently 39 students are studying in the fifth batch.

From the first year we were able to get recognition of TVEC and could receive accreditation for six NVQ courses in the Tertiary & Vocational Education Commission. Now we conduct National Vocational Qualification exams for 6 NVQ courses, and Students receive an internationally recognized certificate. Students benefited from the well equipped workshops for each subject.

So the Seth Sevana programme is a good opportunity for students who stop their schooling at an earlier stage. It enables girls and young women to face society and barriers which they meet without any difficulty. It provides guidance and support to this younger generation which is challenged with a multitude of possibilities.

How does it contribute to the Millennium Development Goals?

Seth Sevana contributes to Goal 3. It promotes Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women.


Challenges include - at times:

  • » Motivation and dedication of the students.
  • » Emotional vulnerability of the students.
  • » Results may seem poor in light of the resources expended.
  • » Life challenges of students are complex.
  • » Lack of consistent support for the students by their guardians.
  • » The jobs found by the students may not be relevant to their studies.
  • » Avenues for job placements may be closed off by students who do not behave responsibly.
  • » Some students are too emotionally unsettled to remain in a job for long.
  • » Need for better team work by the Sisters.

What would make the project more effective?

This is a demanding ministry. In order to be more effective we need to be fully strengthened by God’s abundant graces and blessings. This is also a collective mission of our sisters in Sri Lanka, as our girls and women come from child development centres and our communities all over Sri Lanka. It helps when all the sisters with responsibility for the girls become involved in their ongoing development. As Good Shepherd Sisters we need to give a girl another chance, over and over again. We appreciate the generosity of our local and foreign funding partners in helping us to be more effective and productive.

Seth Sevana has become a blessing for our girls and young women.


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