Creative Nonconformity is our theme for the fiscal year 2018-2019. In France, in the 1830’s, Saint Mary Euphrasia started the Sisters of the Good Shepherd to offer support to those marginalized by society. She longed to open a home in the Abbey across the road from the House of the Good Shepherd, for orphaned children being sent to her by the government. Because her congregation was cloistered, the Bishop denied the sisters permission to cross the road. Believing that the children needed the loving support of their services, with “burning zeal” that could not be squelched, Mary Euphrasia worked with the mayor, inmates and other town supporters, and built a tunnel under the road, from the House of the Good Shepherd to the Abbey, so the Sisters of the Good Shepherd could meet the unique needs of this population of children – Creative Nonconformity.
About 140 years later, Sr. Charity Kohl followed in those footsteps, challenging her staff to embrace, with care and compassion, Philadelphia’s underserved children and families
Unimpressed by conventional ideas of placing children with difficult circumstances into residential settings, she passionately advocated for prevention and early intervention services for families and communities to be offered in homes, schools, and communities, so that kids could be cared for while remaining in their own environments – Creative Nonconformity.
Even today, when presenting our service model to potential partners, we are faced with those who believe that the way we want to provide service is an unrealistic Utopian model. About a month ago, our staff gathered for Heritage Day. One of the team building activities was to build something impressive with limited supplies and scarce resources. Just like our foundress, they accomplished more than they ever thought was possible by being creative non-conformists! They found ways to make it work and do it better, by working together. Getting children and families the services they need, the way they need them is the way of Good Shepherd. If we have to build a tunnel, we will.
As I prepare for Christmas and a new year, personally and professionally, I reflect on how grateful I am for the caring CORA community. I applaud our dedicated staff and all of our partners and supporters, all year long, on their extraordinary efforts that help CORA fulfill its duty and calling to help children and families rise. We will continue to be Creative Nonconformists!
AnnMarie Schultz, CORA CEO