Good Shepherd Center plans leadership change

By George P. Matysek Jr.
Sister Mary Rosaria Baxter, R. G. S., is stepping down as president of Good Shepherd Center in Halethorpe after 16 years leading the residential treatment facility for adolescent girls with emotional and behavioral difficulties of a psychiatric nature.

The private, nonprofit center is launching a search for a replacement, who will most likely be a lay person because of the aging and declining number of Sisters of the Good Shepherd. The order’s members have ministered at the center since the Sisters first established a house in Maryland in 1864.

Sister Mary Rosaria said the charism of the Good Shepherd Sisters, “love in action,” will remain a vibrant part of the Good Shepherd Center’s mission under the new leadership. She will stay on the center’s staff as the mission integration coordinator, a new position that will focus on fostering the Good Shepherd mission and core values.

There are currently seven Sisters who minister at the Good Shepherd Center in addition to a contemplative community of Sisters of the Good Shepherd on site who pray for the wellbeing of the girls and those who work with them.

Sister Mary Rosaria said she decided to step down because it was “the right time” after seeing the center through a successful review by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO).

She pointed out that the center has been continuously accredited by JCAHO since 1974, one of the longest tenures for any residential treatment program in Maryland.

“My heart is with the children, and that gives me the greatest joy,” said Sister Mary Rosaria, a Sister since 1961. “It’s such a privilege to work with young people who want to change their lives.”

The Good Shepherd Center provides residential, psychiatric/psychological, social and educational services to young women between the ages of 13 and 18. The center works with adolescents referred by the state who have the most challenging emotional and behavioral problems. Many of the young women are victims of abuse and neglect. They come from all over the state and all religious backgrounds.

“We’re helping kids others won’t,” said Sister Mary Rosaria. “These are kids society considers throwaways.”

There are currently 77 girls in residence and 260 staff members at the Good Shepherd Center. The young women live in a dormitory-style environment, with each having her own room.

William Baird, chair of the board of directors, said the Sisters of the Good Shepherd will continue to own and operate the center. He said the Sisters have done a “remarkable job” working with the state’s most troubled adolescent girls.


Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.