Philly Paint Day

On July 20th Little Sisters, Residents, staff and friends of Holy Family Home in Philadelphia participated in the creation of a mural that will be erected as a memorial to the Holy Father’s Visit to Philadelphia.

The Mural Arts Program of the City of Philadelphia strives to create art that transform places, individuals, communities and institutions; it believes that “Art Ignites Change.” All throughout Philadelphia one can see different murals that have been painted by artists and the residents of the area. A “Mural Tour” attracts 12,000 visitors each year.

The new mural that will honor Pope Francis’ visit is called “The Sacred Now: Faith and Family in the 21st Century.” It will be installed on the external walls of St Malachy’s School, in North Philadelphia. The 4,239-square-foot mural, by Cesar Viveros, is to be created from 153 5’ x 5’ panels, to be installed across three sections of the school building. Some of the panels are being painted by Philadelphians (like us) and others will be painted by participants in the World Meeting of Families in September. The completed mural will be erected in November.

Our Little Sisters in Philly reported, “We worked on several of these panels in a “paint-by-number” system. It was great to see how the members from the Mural Arts Program patiently showed the Residents where to paint (and where not to paint). And then the intensity with which the Residents painted was extraordinary.”

“You could a real seriousness, as everyone was aware that their art work would last for decades. And then there was the excitement of knowing that the Holy Father would see the panels during his visit to Philadelphia! But even more so, the Residents were awed that they were going to leave a legacy of beauty for the children to play in where there had been only drab bricks and mortar. Admittedly, our contribution was small, but nothing is small in life when it is done with great love, as our foundress Jeanne Jugan would say. And the Residents were certainly filled with love during this project.”

The Little Sisters concluded, “Some of the Residents stayed for the whole afternoon, patiently changing colors and brushes as needed. We also had invited volunteers and staff members to participate, and so the project became truly ‘collaboration,’ a work done by many hands. We may not have completed all the panels (we got about four or five finished), but we did our part, so that the young may have some beauty in their lives as they learn and play.”

 

Watch our slideshow to see what the finished mural will look like!

 

 

 

Profession 2015, What Happiness!

Several hundred people gathered at St. Ann’s Novitiate on July 18th to witness the first profession of our four novices, Sr Jessica Marie, Sr Mary Matthew of the Cross, Sr Mercy Marie and Sr Rachael du Bon Pasteur. Profession day was the culmination of nearly three years of formation and an intense eight-day retreat preached by Rev. Frederick Miller, a good friend of our Congregation.

Our four new Little Sisters hail from four distinctively different regions of the country. After graduating from college in Boston, Sr Jessica Marie began volunteering in our home in Somerville as part of her vocational discernment. Sr Mercy Marie, from Connecticut, met the Little Sisters while attending college in Washington, D.C. She also participated in our summer service program at Queen of Peace Residence in Queens Village, NY before entering.

 

 

From her native Washington (state), where we do not have a home, Sr Rachael then went to college in Montana, where we also do not have a home! But her college chaplain knew the Little Sisters while in the seminary in Denver and encouraged her to apply for our live-in program. She then got to know us in the Bronx before returning to Montana to finish her nursing studies. Sr Mary Matthew got acquainted with the Congregation almost by mistake. From Florida, she found herself in a parish pastored by the priest-uncle of a Little Sister, who asked her to accompany one of his young nieces to our novitiate for a weekend event. As soon as she arrived in Queens Sr Mary Matthew knew she was home!

At the completion of the profession Mass the four Sisters, and everyone else,  learned where their first assignments would be taking them: Sr Jessica Marie will head to Chicago, along with Sr Mary Matthew, who will begin her life as a Little Sister in Palatine, a northwest suburb of Chicago. Sr Rachael is headed to Oregon, Ohio and Sr Mercy Marie will make Totowa, New Jersey her home.

 

On July 18th we also welcomed three young women who had become novices the day before: Sr. Mary Magdaleva, from northwest Ohio; Sr Faustina Marie, from southern Maryland; and Sr Mary Gerard, from upstate New York. Please keep them in your prayers as they begin their two-year novitiate!

 

CLICK HERE to watch a slideshow from the day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts for July Fourth

An inspiring thought from our first President for July Fourth…

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these."

 

To read the text of a speech on religious freedom given by a Little Sisters CLICK HERE.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Ideas About Nuns Were So Wrong!

by Danielle Medearis    

I’m not sure exactly where the vague preconceived image of religious life I possessed before coming to work as an intern this summer at the Jeanne Jugan Residence (Bronx, NY) originated, but after a month here, the one thing I’m positive of is it was quite wrong. Perhaps from a combination of old movies, Sister Act, and the Sound of Music, my idea of a nun before traveling to the Bronx to work with the Little Sisters of the Poor was a woman with a solemn face, grave eyes, constantly carrying around a ruler and reminding others not to sing in the abbey.

This idea was quite wrong.

From the moment the Little Sisters picked me up, discussing traffic problems in New York accents and shaking their heads at the construction they had had to get through on the Whitestone Bridge, I understood that I really had no idea what the true nature of religious life was like. My summer here with the Sisters has taught me it is one of profound joy. Rather than a life of restriction and sacrifice of freedom, the Sisters here live as freely as anyone I’ve ever met. They possess true freedom, which is the ability to not simply do what you want, but to be able to do what you ought.

To me they seem to have this radiating joy, which touches everyone around them and gives them, too, a taste of this freedom par excellence. People become better around the Sisters — happier, kinder, and more prone to charity. It’s like you can see God’s love flowing out of them into the lives of those they come in contact with, and from there you just watch as that Love transforms. I had the privilege of going to the Hunt’s Point produce market with the sisters this past week, and it was lovely observing the faces of the men who gave freely and regularly to the Sisters when they approached, and equally lovely to see the Sisters speak to the men with such affection and personal attention. Some men asked for prayers, some joked that they hoped this extra box of food would help propel them to heaven, and some welcomed the Sisters with a laugh saying, “Look it’s my best customers!” (The Sisters, as part of the order, beg for food for their residents, so all of the men whom they did business with were providing the food for free). The sisters may not have given anything of monetary value to these men, but it would be a completely untrue statement to say they did not receive anything from the Little Sisters, because the Love of God was flowing through them at every stop; you could tell immediately when it reached the men, because their faces just lit up.

For some reason I had it in my head that the sisters would not laugh much, and be quite serious most of the time, but instead they laugh at everything, and are constantly joking around and kidding with one another. Sharing meals with them has become a weekly highlight for me, because they remind me so much of my family at home during dinner, discussing the day and telling jokes, recalling past funny stories. Strange and simple as it is, what struck me strongly during my first few days with the sisters was how, well, normal they were. They did regular people things like play card games and drink coffee and eat chocolate cake, and they didn’t seem like they were deprived of any happiness; quite the opposite, the sisters have happiness in everything.

I think that’s again part of the freer, not less free, discovery I made.

Being around so many living conduits of God’s love and compassion, it’s no surprise that I’ve enjoyed my time here thus far at Jeanne Jugan Residence. Each day brings new opportunities to practice this art of letting God shines through in every action you do, in having joy in every small task you undertake (and I undertake many, many small tasks). And due to the fact that I find most of my days are devoted to the task of finding more ways to put joy and love into them, I think it’s no surprise that I am happily looking forward to the rest of my time here.

 

 

 

Fortnight For Freedom: Freedom to Bear Witness

The theme for this year’s Fortnight for Freedom is “Freedom to bear witness.” Explaining this concept, Archbishop Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ committee on religious freedom, said, “Keeping the spirit of the Gospel means that Catholic institutions are to bear witness in love to the full truth about the human person by providing social, charitable, and educational services in a manner that fully reflects the God-given dignity of the human person."

As we observe this Fortnight with its theme of bearing witness, words of well-known writer George Weigel about our Congregation are a great encouragement to us Little Sisters: 

The Sisters and all who collaborate with them to serve the elderly are helping to teach our culture a critical lesson at a moment of great crisis.

Pope Francis often talks about the problem of a throw-away culture. What is being thrown away is not just stuff, but people. Think back to 2003 in France. It was a brutally hot summer, yet thousands of French vacationers remained on holiday rather than returning home to bury their parents who had died in the heat wave, leaving them in refrigeration for sometimes 2, 3 or 4 weeks. This is the throw-away culture.

This is the opposite of what happens at the Little Sisters’ homes. What goes on in these places is in sharp contrast to what goes on today, where the sick and the elderly are NOT cared for. In place of this coldness, the Little Sisters of the Poor radiate warmth, caring and love. The Little Sisters of the Poor and their guests — friends — 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, died and rose so that we might know both the truth of our humanity and the face of the merciful Father.

The Sisters remind us that whatever else the grace of God has enabled us to do in our lives, we are finally going to be judged on what we did to the least of the Lord’s brethren. Those questions will be put to us (Matthew); the Little Sisters of the Poor are living witnesses that the pro-life movement in the United States is first and foremost about service to those in need. The Little Sisters of the Poor, like crisis pregnancy centers, make it perfectly clear that we care about life along its entire spectrum, and anyone who says we Catholics only care about life before it is born has never been to St Joseph’s Home (Weigel was speaking at a fundraising event for St. Joseph's Home in Palatine, Illinois).

Please join us in praying for religious liberty, especially during these days leading up to Independence Day, July 4!

 

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