Magdalen Day: Good Shepherd Contemplatives


The Good Shepherd Contemplatives are formerly known as the Magdalens. Following VatII, the Magdalens became the Good Shepherd Contemplatives, and were permitted to wear white. Some GSCs wear street clothes. The St Louis Community wears a habit.


It’s quite interesting that they had a change of name. Was there also a change of charism, and if so, what was the whole reason for this change?


Actually, many communities have changed their names. For example, in the post-Vatican II era several communities that had “Holy Ghost” in their names changed them to “Holy Spirit.” The Helpers of the Holy Souls became the Society of Helpers. And the Missionary Zelatrices of the Sacred Heart became the Missionary Apostles of the Sacred Heart. There are others, but these are just a couple of examples. No alteration of charism whatsoever.


The Magdalen concept may not have been unique to the Good Shepherd community. St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, RGS, began her religious life career as a Sister of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge, which had been founded by St. John Eudes. He, himself, had “Magdalens” in the Refuge community. At least old Refuge rules make mention of Magdalens.

St. Euphrasia’s “career” had been disrupted by war, and when hostilities ended, she founded the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Many of the girls who had received the GS services wanted to become members of the community, but the constitutions forbade women formerly of ill-repute to join them. She founded the Magdalen branch for them, and they had their own cloister on the GS grounds. (Same holds true today). The Magdalens were primarily Carmelite in nature, and wore the Carmelite habit with a tall forehead binder veil.

After VatII, the GS changed their constitutions to include the cloistered branch, thus giving the Magdalens the new name of Good Shepherd Contemplatives. This also permitted the contemplative branch to wear the same white with black veil of the GS, which follows the Rule of St. Augustine.


In the book Convent Life by Joan Lexcau Dial press 1964 has the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge. In there below them apparently they had a group called the Sisters of the Seven Dolors.
There also used to be two orders called Dominican Sisters of Bethany.One was french, and the other dutch.


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