While visiting France in the Fall of 1995, I had the good fortune to stay for a few days at the Little Sisters of the Poor Motherhouse in Brittany, France. What a blessing to be able to pray in the crypt of the church next to the tomb of their foundress, St. Jeanne Jugan. Most wonderful of all, was the warm welcome received by me from all of the sisters, particularly Sr. Marie-Pierre who looked after me like a mother. I should have expected this because the Little Sister’s fourth vow is hospitality.
The Little Sisters receive their formation at the motherhouse called La Tour Saint Joseph. What a joy to see sisters from all over the world gather together to form one family of faith dedicated to caring for God’s little ones on earth, the elderly poor.
I had the pleasure of meeting the Mother General, and also Mother Celine de la Visitation, who was kind enough to issue me the invitation to stay. I mention all of this because Mother Celine was elected Mother General the following year and served in that capacity for the next 19 years. On September 8th, it was announced that the Little Sisters had elected a new Superior General, Sister María del Monte Auxiliadora as their first Spanish superior general! It was accompanied by the singing of the Te Deum and a flurry of calls and emails back home.
Mother María was elected to the General Council in 2009 and is originally from Seville, Spain, where she was provincial superior and mistress of novices in the Spanish novitiate. Five other sisters were also elected to the General Council reflecting the international flavor of their Congregation: Sisters Nicole Emmanuel and Benoît de Ste. Bernadette from France; Sister Joseph Christine, from Scotland; Sister Patricia Ivonne del Espíritu Santo, from Chile and Sister Maria Clarette, from Sri Lanka. Mother Celine, originally from San Francisco, California, will remain in the General Council, assuming the role of Vicar General.
Please pray for the Little Sisters in this time of transition and as they continue their religious freedom legal battle, one that will greatly influence our own ability to uphold our Catholic faith in the public arena.
Pope Francis has called upon consecrated women and men to “wake up the world!” And last weekend the 2015 Year of Consecrated Life officially began.
Religious cannot shake and wake up the world unless there are actually men and women religious. One religious can make a difference! Look at the lives of Sts. Francis, Dominic, Benedict, Mother Cabrini, Don Bosco, Mother Teresa, etc…
Another great foundress was St. Jeanne Jugan, the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor in 19th century France. The Little Sisters have issued a new vocation video called Love Serves in celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life. It is free and viewable online here. They want our help in reaching young women who might make a great Little Sister of the Poor in serving the elderly poor.
In a recent poll, more than one in four young Catholics reported that they had never been encouraged to consider becoming a religious sister, brother or priest. Those who were invited to consider a religious vocation said it was a family member, a friend, a teacher or youth minister who broached the subject with them. It could be you!
Please share the vocation video, LOVE SERVES, with a young woman you might know. It may make an everlasting difference!
We are always happy to promote the The Little Sisters of the Poor and the work they do with elderly poor. If you are a young single woman, between the ages of 17 and 35, and want to be introduced to this beautiful life of service to the poor, the Little Sisters in Mobile, Alabama, are having a discernment retreat weekend from November 14 -16th, 2014 at their Sacred Heart Residence.
The weekend will consist of Mass, talks, service opportunities, Eucharistic Adoration, Reconciliation, vocation stories from the Little Sisters, and a one-on-on opportunity for those who want to accompany a Little Sister in her daily duties. It will begin at 5pm on Friday and conclude by 2pm on Sunday.
I had the privilege of attending one of these discernment weekends and it was a memorable experience. Besides getting a glimpse of the sisters’ selfless service to their residents, I also got to meet one of the Little Sisters’ prayer warriors. This was an invalid Little Sister, not that old, who suffered from a debilitating disease that left her confined to a room, hooked to machines. I never saw such serenity and love radiating from a more beautiful face. She grasped my hand, and I felt that I had held the hand of a saint.
The Little Sisters in Mobile have a 92-bed facility that is full to the rafters. They hope to expand soon to accommodate more residents who do not have adequate financial means to live independently. Often, there is no family to care for them or even visit. Because the Little Sisters actually live at the Home, they share their entire lives with the residents, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. This is what makes their homes unique. It is truly a place of family.
Registration is free for the weekend but registration in advance is appreciated. If you have any questions, please call Sr. Carolyn at (251)591-3700.
On Saturday, July 19, three young women made their first profession of vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and hospitality as Little Sisters of the Poor at St. Ann’s Novitiate in Queens Village, NY. Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh was the main celebrant and homilist.
Following is a brief introduction of the new Little Sisters:
Sr. Amy Catherine Joseph (Hagedorn), a native of Indiana, met the Little Sisters while a nursing student in Evansville. She received her first obedience for their Home in Philadelphia.
Sr. Elisabeth de l’Eucharistie (Dugré), from Québec, Canada, met the Little Sisters while working as a baker in Montréal. In addition to her culinary skills, Sister Elisabeth is an accomplished flutist. Her sister played the cello for the Profession ceremony, and her mom sang a beautiful meditation hymn in French! Sister Elisabeth was assigned to their Home in Dinan, France, the third home of the Congregation and the site where St. Jeanne Jugan worked with the Brothers of St. John of God to draft the original Constitutions of the congregation.
Sr. Maria Carmen Therese (Ozuna) was born in Mexico but then migrated to the United States, settling in the Philadelphia area. Sister Maria Carmen worked as a child care provider before entering their congregation. Her sister performed a beautiful meditation hymn in Spanish during the ceremony. Sister Maria Carmen Therese is headed to Jeanne Jugan Residence in Washington, D.C.
Click here to enjoy a slide show of the new Little Sisters!
The Little Sisters of the Poor have announced a new live-in service program for single college-age women. Called “Spring Into Service,” it is a chance to experience service to the elderly poor, prayer and community life in a faith-filled community of women religious.
You can stay as short as a week (eg. spring break) or commit to at least six weeks (eg. summer) with possible pay. No nursing experience is required.
The Little Sisters have 27 homes across the United States in places such as San Francisco, Gallup, Baltimore, Chicago, Washington DC, Denver, Mobile, St. Paul and others. There is also a possibility of overseas placements.
Having been a volunteer for several years in the home in Chicago, I know first-hand what a wonderful experience this is. First of all, the residents are so happy to have cheerful, young people to talk to. Many of these poor elderly have no family; no one who comes on Easter or Christmas or even family that sends a note of encouragement. Secondly, the Little Sisters are so hospitable and the spiritual blessings that fell on me are too numerous to mention. No matter what your vocation in life may be, this opportunity will leave an imprint that will last a lifetime.
On June 1, Cardinal Timothy Dolan presided at the Mass in which six Little Sisters of the Poor made their first profession. The close proximity of the Cardinal to the Little Sisters Novitiate would not necessarily make this an unusual event but what made his presence extra-special was the fact that one of the newly-professed Little Sisters was from his hometown of Baldwin, Missouri and even attended the same grade school that he also had attended. The Cardinal promised to be at her first profession and three years later he kept his promise. He brought along with him Sr. Sister Mary Rosario, RSM, principal of Holy Infant Grade School in Baldwin. Hr truly is a man of the people.
The Cardinal told Sr. Elizabeth and the 5 other sisters making their first profession that they were called to be the heartbeat of Jesus, tenderness incarnate, in receiving God’s love and extending it to others. Also in attendance, were 5 novices who, God willing, will soon take their place at the side of the aged poor.
The sisters new assignments will take them to Ireland, Australia, New Jersey, California and Pennsylvania. I think what is beautiful about the Little Sister’s formation is that they all spend time at the Motherhouse in Brittany, France. There is a great sense of sisterhood among the Little Sisters across the world which comes from this shared time together at the resting place of their foundress, St. Jeanne Jugan.
Recently, Sr. Anne Green, l.s.p., died at age 100 in a Little Sisters of the Poor home in Scotland. As remarkable as as her age were her adventures as a Little Sister during World War II. Sr. Anne was living in the Little Sisters’ Motherhouse (all Little Sisters spend some time in France as part of their formation) at La Tour St. Joseph in Brittany, France, when the Germans took over the area. Because Sr. Anne was a British citizen, she was forced to go into hiding for 6 years at a Little Sisters’ home near Belgium. However, when the Germans occupied that town, “the mayor phoned the Reverend Mother and warned her that if there were any British citizens there, she should send them away,” said Sister Anne. “There were four of us, including an Australian, and she told the mayor that there was nowhere for us to go. He said he would burn our registration papers and that we should remain in hiding.”
The one time she left the confines of the convent, she and her companion encountered a German patrol and Sister was forced to take refuge in a pile of potatoes loaded onto a cart. She was undetected and never left the convent again until the Allies arrived.
When American tanks came into the town, Sister stopped a convoy and asked the commander if he could find her brother Tom who was in the army. He said to her, “Sister, there are just a couple of million soldiers back there, but I’ll see what I can do.” Two days later, said Sister Anne, “they found him and brought him to see me. I will never forget seeing him walking in. It was absolutely wonderful.” I’m sure the American commander was amazed and happy too.
Sister Anne returned home to Great Britain in 1949 and served out her long life among the poor and aged in the United Kingdom. The Little Sisters have 4 homes in Scotland, 4 in Ireland, 9 in England and even one on the Isle of Jersey. May God grant repose to her soul and may the Little Sisters of the Poor continue to care for God’s venerable aged ones around the world.
“She was exemplary,” said Mother Aimee. “Her continual smile and serenity were testimonies to her happiness in religious life.”
The Little Sisters of the Poor who care for the poor and elderly are concerned that Obamacare could drive them out of business. And that business is not to make money but to provide the aged poor with a loving home for the remainder of their days on earth, free of charge. The sisters rely on donations to care for their residents.
To be forced to provide a health plan that includes things like sterilization and contraception coverage to their 300 sisters serving in 30 US cities goes against Catholic moral teaching and a well-formed conscience. The fines for not providing coverage would force the sisters out of business. Is this religious liberty?
The Little Sisters are also in the forefront of the anti-euthanasia fight. As George Weigel said in a column: The Little Sisters of the Poor and their residents are living reminders that there are no disposable human beings; that everyone is a someone for whom the Son of God entered the world, suffered and died; and that we read others out of the human family at our moral and political peril.
Prayer is the best answer to combat evil. Help us, O Lord, to be able to care for your littlest ones in our nursing homes, hospitals, schools.
Please pray for the Little Sisters of the Poor who have homes for the elderly in Totowa NJ, the Bronx, Queens, and Enfield CT. They also have a novitiate in Queens Village. One of the Little Sisters contacted us and asked for prayers. Medications, food, electricity, and fuel are all very real concerns since nursing homes are not considered ‘priority’ emergency sites as are hospitals.
Mother Maria Christine said, “Having been an eyewitness myself to the Hurricane Katrina, I also know that goodness, love and generosity abound in times of crises such as this, so with prayer let us be persons who dispense hope to those around us. Our God is so much greater than this superstorm.”
May God protect them.
On the Sister’s website they note that their foundress, St. Jeanne Jugan, has been ‘appearing’ in the most unlikely places! In August, a statue of Jeanne was dedicated at Creighton University. The miraculous cure of Creighton alumnus Dr. Edward Gatz of Omaha led to Blessed Jeanne Jugan being declared a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. And in October, the Montfort Fathers placed a statue of Jeanne at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island in Manorville (Long Island), NY. The shrine has an Avenue of the Saints and Jeanne now resides near the statues of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Saint Therese of Lisieux.
The Little Sisters of the Poor have 30 homes in the US serving 2500 residents. Here are some quotes from Sister Constance Veit about the potential impact of the HHS mandate on the poor and elderly that the sisters care for so lovingly.
If we chose to offer insurance without the objectionable services, we would honor our consciences, but we’d have to pay $100 per day per employee. As the cardinal (Timothy Cardinal Dolan) figures it, for an organization with 50 employees, that would mean almost $2 million per year. So if the mandate is still standing in 2014, all of our U.S. homes will be facing serious financial difficulties.
We stand with the U.S. bishops and so many others in advocating that the mandate be struck down, or that, in the very least, there be a viable exemption for freedom of conscience.
I have been a Little Sister for 25 years, and I have never seen our congregation so active on a public issue. So that is an indication of its importance. The only other time I have seen a response like this from our congregation was in the early 1990s, when euthanasia and assisted suicide were being debated in the European Parliament, and our superior general at that time took a public stand. Normally, our lives are very hidden.
What we fear is that, if the federal government succeeds in this case, there are other areas where they could exert pressure or enact measures that could endanger our apostolate — particularly in end-of-life care and in the possible rationing of care to the elderly as a cost-saving measure.