Friday, May 22, 2009

Reflections of 1964 High School Graduate from Home of Good Shepherd, St. Paul, Minnesota




Are any of you out there?

Has anyone read about Ireland's Commission to Inquire into Chiuld Abuse? Or any of the other studies of late which reveal how the nuns at the Homes of the Good Shepherd treated girls sent there? The study of more than 200 Catholic run 'schools' between 1930 to the 1990's, includiing testimony of nearly 2,000 witnesses. This report just recently made public, confirms thhe Catholic /church sponsored scores of reformatories and industrial schools where more than 30,000 girls deemed delinquent or incorrigible were sent from the 1930's until the close of the 20th century. Most were child labor and forced to work in the Home's commecial laundries. None received monetary compensation.


Would like to hear from my classmates or others who were in the Home of Good Shepherd - St. Paul, Minnesota between September 1962 to October 1964.


Copy of the 1964 Senior Class Yearbook. Will have it copied then return it.

Names and Senior Class Photos of my 12 classmates. Unable to recall all but 1.


13 Girls.


Mount Saint Mary's.


Home of Good Shepherd


931 Blair

St. Paul, Minnesota

Zip Code ? Poof. Gone with 11 names/faces/memories of my classmates.


Prison run by Catholic Nuns housing juvenile delinquent girls, supervision of child labor in their commercial laundry


Were any of the girls actually convicted of crimes i.e. felonies? I seriously haven't a clue. I wasn't. Never arrested or in trouble of any kind.


Every memory is branded onto my very soul. I can't rid myself of even the harmless, more benign memories. They come hand and hand with the horrors which return every now and again - triggered by some of the silliest things. I continue to shove everything back deep down inside me and go on with life. It's the visuals within dreams which continue to return that no amount of therapy has been able to destroy. Those are the most painful and no matter how much I push them away and try to forget - they relentlessly pursue me - eventually returning full force.

I think if I could find my juvenile files someplace within the Justice System of Minnesota - if I could just find out what the reasons were behind sending me to a place that kept me locked away until I was 18, perhaps it would settle my mind. I'd like to find out why I was sent to the Home of Good Shepherd, why my questions were ignored, why I sensed the nuns were afraid or repulsed by my presence ( but I've pretty much guessed that one), then perhaps I could rid myself of that horrid place once and for all.

There's one thing I know for sure: the Good Shepherd nuns got their pound of flesh out of me - for 2+ years they worked my butt off as free child labor with the pretense of providing the remainder of my High School education. That's one of the more pitiful aspects of my time spent locked away. There were a couply of pretty savy women (nuns) that I remember holding administrative positions. Were they blind? Didn't the classes they approved have to meet a basic set of High School requirments set by the State's Department of Education? The Home of Good Spherd may have betowed upon me a High School Diploma with the name of Mount St. Mary's on its blue velvet cover but upon my release, I left with no more than the general knowledge approved by the State of Minnesota for High School Freshman and Sophmore's. I was not afforded the opportunity to attend Junior and Senior level High School classes equal to those out in the 'real world'.


The second day into my Junior year at Bloomington High School, I arrived home school to find 2 Bloomington Policemen and a very elderly lady from the 'Catholic Welfare Department' waiting for me - her name was Miss Tchida - unclear on spelling - pronounced 'chee-ta'. My mother already had my things packed and ready. I was handcuffed, put into a squad car and driven to the Home of Good Shepherd in St. Paul with Miss Tchida following.

Never once would anyone give me a straight answer to my many questions. The nuns treated me with disdain as though I had a the plague. It appeared to me other girls were not treated as rudely nor spoken to in a similar manner as I was. Hindsite: I think the way I was treated centered around the fact I was a child of 'Lesbians'. Especially considering the type of questions I regularly was asked. It was though some of the nuns couldn't stand even being near me.


My home life was a living hell. No family unit. Only my Mother, Godmother and me. Both women were alcoholics yet functional enough to have professional nursing careers at 2 different Catholic Hospitals. I can't recall one day during my childhood where they remained sober. Being obvious lesbians and rearing a child was unheard of at the time. My mother was brutal when drunk. Regularly beaten black and blue on a weekly basis, I would escape when I could, running about 3 miles to the Blooming Police Department. I never went inside asking for help. Instead, I'd sit on the front steps for hours. Sometimes through the nights, until the next morning. Another curiosity: not once did the Policemen who must have passed me on those steps hundreds of times over the years, ever stop to speak to me or ask why I was sitting there. Today, I find that simply amazing.


I've not gone into any details. Prefer to see if any of my classmates are out there and willing to respond.


  1. Hi Mary Elizabeth,

    I am a former student at the Home of the Good Shepherd in Omaha, Nebraska. The name of the school was St. Joseph's Academy. You say on your blog that you were at the Home of the Good Shepherd in St. Paul, Minnesota but the name of the high school was Mount Saint Mary's. It is my understanding that there was a St. Mary's of the Mount/Home of the Good Shepherd in Helena, Montana. Were you in Helena or St. Paul?

    1. I'm really late in answering as I just found this Blog again. Had totally forgotten about it. I was in St. Paul. The nuns called the Home of Good Shepherd where we were prisoners and locked up. The phony name they gave our High School was Mount Saint Mary's but the education was non-existant. It was a joke!

  2. Mary Elizabeth, I have set up a FREE facebook page for ALL Good Shepherd Girls from ALL Good Shepherd Homes to reunitewith old friends, make new friends, and share memories. Please come visit our page. While you're there, please don't forget to "Like" our page. The link is right under the big pic of our school on the right. Hope to see you there soon! Here is the link to our page.

  3. Magdalene Laundries in Buffalo NY: An American survivor's interview (Exclusive):  via @wtcommunities

  4. Hi Mary E... Please visit our website on Facebook...we are a group of 'survivors" of Good Shepherd 'homes' institutions... we started this website in an effort to contact other victims/survivors, and to begin the process of receiving not only an apology, official, but reparations...
    Myself and Diana O'Hara started it one year ago..if you see the will see others stories similar to yourself. and the Journalist above, Jerome Elam, has been working, un-selfishly to get our stories out there! PLEASE come view: Survivors of Good Shepherd/Magdalene Laundries in North America ( on Facebook)
    BEST.. Rosemarie jacobsohn NYC and Diana O'Hara

  5. I just found my blog with a little of my story on Google B. I am not computer literate but give it a good try. Rose and Diana, thanks for your help and for contacting me via email. sorry I'm so late on the uptake!

  6. and Jerome Elan, our journalist,extraordinaire!!

  7. To Home of Good Shepherd Girls reading my blog:

    I was contacted by the two people within this blog string. SEE above: Rosemarie Jacobsohn & Jerome Elam, a Journalist.

    Please be careful if these two make contact with you. Their intentions may be pure, but I've had a very negative experience with both of them!

    I will refrain writing what I experienced but my husband kept the proof via copies of emails strings which are now being kept safe with our family attorneys.

    All seemed innocent at first. After initial social exchanges, I was told to call their lawyer who told me Jerome writes columns & submits them to the Washington Times on-line newspaper.

    Jerome's efforts seemed seemed pure enough since he was an abused child himself. Therefore spear-heading a class action suit against Homes of Good Shepherd for damages done to girls incarcerated in the United States didn't seem to strange at first.

    Rosemarie hasn't vetted as well.

    When I was contacted, they had perhaps 3 at most HGS girls; I was to be the 4th or so. Certainly not enough for a class action lawsuit. I was to find more girls for them to contact. I had none. Except those from Omaha, Nebraska who loved their Home of Good Shepherd experiences, the Nuns, etc. and still do.

    When I was first contacted via email, I was neither asked to phone them nor they me. No conference call was coordinated. No one asked to meet me in person nor did they offer for me to meet them in order to introduce themselves. This fact alone made me feel very, very uncomfortable. I was to hire their attorney sight unseen? I was to cooperate with them sight unseen? No meetings. No clarifications. Nothing?

    I do not know how to use Facebook nor use the internet to any great extent. I am not computer or internet savvy. The full extent of their proposal and answers to my questions was via emails to me. In hindsight it appears they all only rely on the use of the social media facility called Facebook. I don't know how to use Facebook, so I don't.

    I was given Rosemarie's home phone. My attorney told me not to call her until he could determine who she was and what she was all about.

    And I was to trust them 100% No rights to ask questions without suffering their ire? Or insulting accusations? Or twisting my words? Hmmmm. Very suspicious.

    My experiences in the Home of Good Shepherd taught me many, many things. All of which served me well during my life. First, take nothing at face value. Due diligence and research is the basis of knowledge & truths. Jerome should recognize that!

    Second, never trust anyone, face value or otherwise. Everyone has a private agenda. There's always a back-story to any situation. Find out what it is. Certainly, never trust anyone from the internet, out of the blue, claiming to want to 'help you pursue vindication' & money. Never be fueled by money.

    Be strong enough to ask direct, straight forward questions over and over. If a response is anger, defensive, threatening, insulting, or your words have been twisted, etc. watch out. Seek advice immediately. This is a huge red flag! Something is terribly wrong.

    All 'do-gooders' have motives. Some pure. Some not so pure. I refused to become part of someone's 15 minutes of fame. Or the pursuit of a Pulitzer!

    God Bless all. Empty apologies are not what they are cracked up to be. Ask the Irish.

    Mary Elizabeth

  8. God Bless the Home of Good Shepherd Girls from Omaha, Nebraska. It's attitudes like yours that's more healing than all the money and apologies in the world!

    Mary Elizabeth