as experienced by the Little Sisters and Women Speak for Themselves
Echoes from our day at the Supreme Court continue to come in. The following impressions were sent to us from Meg McDonnell, organizer of the Women Speak for Themselves’ activities on our behalf. Sounds like everyone had a great time!
First, the #LetThemServe rally would not have been the success it was without the magnificent participation of your Sisters! Their presence made it quite possibly the most joyful scene our movement has ever seen outside the Supreme Court. The Little Sisters’ presence helped ground everyone in the purpose of the rally, which is to advocate for the rights of these wonderful women to continue serving the elderly poor. Their gracious movements throughout the crowd, handing out cookies (even to those who opposed them), speaking patiently with curious passersby, even joining in an occasional cheer or chant was like a benediction on the day. It was incredible, and speaking for us and many of our friends, it was a kind of spiritual renewal which focused us as we headed into the Easter Triduum.
As you know, at the same time as the rally, WSFT members participated in Days of Service at 15 different Little Sisters’ locations across the country. These Days of Service exemplified the beauty of woman-to-woman solidarity and we cannot be more grateful to you for encouraging this witness in Little Sisters’ Homes.
Here are a few snippets from that day:
Flemington: Sister Bernice represents everything I aspire to be as a woman – loving, giving, funny, prayerful, joyful, and in tune to the needs of others. To be able to sacrifice everything to love others is the essence of freedom, and that freedom has power. Just being in her presence that morning changed my life and if she can do that for me, then I can only imagine what the Little Sisters of the Poor do every day for the most vulnerable members of our society across the nation.
Bronx: We helped their chef make chocolate Easter eggs for their Residents. She said she couldn’t have done it without us, and that she was very grateful for our help. They had more volunteers than usual that day, including a spring break group from FOCUS, a Catholic group I was very involved with as an undergrad, and it was really moving for me personally to be surrounded by so many people who were there to support the Sisters on this important day.
St Louis: What struck me about the day was how normal it was for the Sisters. They were meeting with one of the Residents to discuss the Triduum liturgy, stuffing Easter eggs and directing an exercise class! The Sisters truly desire to serve those most in need, and this does not change — even on a day as potentially worrisome as last Wednesday. Their trust in the Lord shone through in their continuation of their ordinary daily activities of love and service.
St Paul: It was a gift to be with the Sisters today. I was particularly inspired by their focus on their work and prayer in the midst of the whirlwind surrounding them. I hope and pray for a just decision, but these women will follow the Lord and his call to them to serve no matter what. As we were saying goodbye, one of the Sisters said to me, “Thank you for coming. You took all of the tension out of the day for us!” This was the first time I was aware of the burden they must feel.
Palatine: We had a large group, so we sang and prayed outside of the home. We brought gift bags for the Residents with items for personal care. The Sisters were so happy to have our support and thanked us several times. It warmed our hearts to see their smiles.
Richmond: Our group was welcomed and immediately put to work. Some of us worked in the garden, some worked in the kitchen, some gave Residents manicures, some dyed eggs and worked with crafts. The work of the Little Sisters is done with love and is very personal. To think that these Sisters may have to choose between violating their faith and continuing this work is heartbreaking. They serve the poorest of the poor with love and provide them a true home. After our service we joined the residents and other guests for Mass where we prayed for mercy from the Supreme Court and we looked forward to Holy Week. Then we joined the Residents and some Sisters for a lovely lunch, served on a real plate, not paper, with real silverware. It was homemade and delicious. Our group loved the experience and came away full of joy and full of respect for the Little Sisters.
Philadelphia: After our time serving along side the Little Sisters in Philadelphia I couldn’t help but think “This is where I would want to spend my end days.” A beautiful place filled with beautiful women with servant hearts.
Pittsburgh: For our service day in Pittsburgh, I was one of two moms with toddlers who drove an hour and a half to get there. After the day was over, the other young mom remarked, “It was such a nice day. We should go back there.” The Sisters and the (young, married, and female) employee who helped us coordinate the day of service seemed to just be so grateful that people cared about their case. One of the Sisters even baked me a cake as a “thank you” for organizing the day. We had about 15 people (not counting the kids) come. We prayed in the chapel, and then they split us up into small groups to go around the home and just visit with the Residents. Then we celebrated Mass with them. That’s all they wanted from us — to pray and to visit their Residents. I never knew about the Sisters before this case, but now it is clear to me that we will be losing something very precious if they can no longer serve.
As you can see from the above, our organizers benefited as much or more from the service day as the Residents or Sisters themselves. Many are already planning to return!