Recognised for her Service Since 1965, Sr Louise has seen the faces and heard the voices of those in her local community, and in response, created and manages many programs for women and children in need. In November 2020, Sr Louise received the Irish Presidential Distinguished Service award, recognising the contribution of the Irish diaspora. She was awarded for her work providing care and support for the poor and underprivileged.
The Good Shepherd Sisters are committed to promoting the dignity and human rights of all, especially women and children; and aim to help them live empowered lives, inspired by the Good Shepherd Sisters founder, Sr Mary Euphrasia.
“She had a great zeal for helping people and the most compassionate heart,” says Sr Louise, who works at the Mother and Baby Home run by the Good Shepherd Sisters in Bangkok, Thailand.
Sr Mary Euphrasia also had a phrase she repeated often. It’s become the beating heart of the Good Shepherd Sisters: one person is of more value than the whole world.
“They suffer so much, and they have only us to comfort them and to console them,” she says of the women who turn the Mother and Babies Home for support and refuge, seeking love and respect.
Born and raised in Ireland, Sr Louise knew she wanted to support those in need from a young age, when a missionary Sister came to speak at her school and shared her experiences. When she turned 18, Sister Louise followed the call and joined the Good Shepherd Sisters.
Reading many books and magazines at the time, focusing on the church’s mission work in Asia, also fired her curiosity and a possible calling.
“I was thinking I would love to do something, maybe not to be a Sister, because I had other ideas as a young girl, but I would love to try to help out in some way,” she says.
After much thought and consideration, Sr Louise decided to take her vows. Back then, it meant leaving home for good, and being away from her family in Ireland.
“That was a very big decision, never going back again,” she says
“I think being young and wanting a challenge in life, I didn’t worry about this that much, but my parents were very upset.”
Her parents respected her choice and Sr Louise set off to follow her calling, starting briefly in France but soon returning to Ireland where she trained for three years as a nurse. Her medical skills and strong faith would later serve her well in Sri Lanka.
On the day after her arrival, Sr Louise, along with four other helpers, was given her first assignment: to care for 150 abandoned babies.
“My heart almost stopped. It seems like the impossible dream,” she says.
Despite her initial fears, Sr Louise was determined to do the job she was sent to do, to the best of her ability.
“I got to love those children. They were just fantastic. I was their mother. I was their everything”
Sr Louise formed a strong bond with the local people and the country that became her home but after five years in Sri Lanka, she was assigned to Thailand, missioned to start a house in Bangkok for single mothers and their babies, where she has been for over 55 years.
Seeing great need to help women and children who have nowhere to turn, Sr Louise and a few other Good Shepherd Sisters who had been placed in Thailand created what is now the Good Shepherd Centre in Bangkok.