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Accompanying the dying as Mary did at the foot of the cross

by Chaz Muth, CNS

WASHINGTON — Michaela Gallagher was a 16-year-old volunteer at the Little Sisters of the Poor Jeanne Jugan Residence for the elderly poor in Somerville, Massachusetts, when she witnessed a human die for the first time in her young life.

Gallagher was on duty at the assisted living center and ventured into a room where the women religious were keeping vigil with a 101-year-old resident who was expected to die sometime that day.

“One of the sisters saw me standing in the back of the room and said, ‘Come closer,’ and motioned for me to sit right by this resident’s side,” she told Catholic News Service in a recent interview. “I remember wondering why she would want me to sit next to her — I had never seen anyone die before.

“If I had any fear or hesitation, it was squashed right in that moment as I knelt by this little old lady’s side and held her hand as she slipped off into eternity,” she recalled. CONTINUE READING

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