A Culture of Charity

moermanThe Daughters of St Mary of Providence, founded by St. Louis Guanella in Italy, are celebrating 100 years of the Guanellian presence in the United States.

In our day, when you read stories that are absolutely depressing not to mention discouraging and horrific regarding the sanctity of human life, it is so refreshing and encouraging to look at the lives of these sisters and the love they have for the most vulnerable in our society. They were founded by St. Louis to care for marginalized persons who were orphaned, sick,  handicapped or elderly.

On June 13th, the National Catholic Register had an article entitled: “Barbarians from the North: Child Euthanasia in Belgium and the Netherlands.” LifeSite News reported earlier this year that 90% of children with Down Syndrome are aborted. The Telegraph reported on the 20th that a Somali girl had been smuggled into Great Britain to have her organs harvested. In other words, killed so someone else might live.

Guanella2I shudder to think of who or what entity is deciding on who lives and who dies in our world. Whose life is more valuable? Whose life is “less valuable” because they are paralyzed, infirm, mentally ill, disabled, old? Who is playing God?

And what does all this have to do with the Guanellian sisters? Well, their mission in part is to “help people with developmental disabilities meet life’s challenges and reach their highest potential in spiritual, emotional, mental and psychological growth, at the same time promoting their dignity as human beings.” Their founder, St. Louis, reminds us that “the handicapped, aged and orphans are God’s treasures.”

We are fortunate at the IRL to have in our midst the sisters’ Mount St. Joseph home, a residence for adult women with developmental disabilities. Located in Lake Zurich, Illinois, the sisters have been caring for these children of God since 1935 when the location, a farm, was purchased. Here each person is supported and challenged to live their life to the fullest extent possible while maintaining their dignity as human beings.

Cardinal Francis George, celebrating a 100th anniversary Mass with the sisters in May, said that they are a model of discipleship and it is through their service that they profess Jesus Christ. “It is the charity that they show in their lives that tells people that there is more to life than what is in front of us right now. That each of us has a personal dignity…we are related directly to a loving God who cares for us and therefore asks us to care for one another.”

Happy feast day of St. Louis Guanella to the communities that Louis founded: the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and the Servants of Charity (for men).




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