Each year we count on the joys of Easter to follow the sacrifices of Lent and the sorrows of Holy Week. This year our Paschal joy was doubled as we welcomed Mother General MarÍa and her vicar, Mother Assistant Joseph Christine, for their second U.S. visit. Our visitors arrived in Chicago on Easter Wednesday, spent several days in the Midwest, and then headed to New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, before concluding their trip with meetings back at our novitiate in New York.
Mother MarÍa and Mother Joseph Christine came to the United States on a twofold mission — to help realize the merger of our three U.S. provinces into two, and to help launch a national Vocations Team composed of Little Sisters from around the country who will collaborate in nurturing vocations and making the Congregation as widely known as possible.
Over the last several years we have withdrawn from a number of Homes across the country in order to consolidate our aging communities and strengthen our religious life, despite a diminishing number of vocations and a growing crisis in the healthcare workforce. From over thirty Homes for the elderly in three provinces at the dawn of the new millennium, we now count nineteen Homes in two U.S. provinces, or governing regions.
On April 19 Mother General MarÍa presided over the installation of Mother Provincial Alice Marie Monica, previously provincial of the Brooklyn province, as the superior of the new Baltimore-Brooklyn province, whose headquarters will be in Baltimore. The new province is comprised of houses in the Bronx and Queens (NY), Pawtucket (RI), Enfield (CT), Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Totowa (NJ), Baltimore, Newark (DE) and Washington, D.C., as well as our novitiate in New York and a retreat house in New Jersey.
The Chicago province, which remains headquartered in Palatine, Illinois, picked up two Homes that previously belonged to the Baltimore province. This province is now comprised of two Homes in Chicagoland, and one house each in Kansas City (MO), Louisville, Indianapolis, Mobile (AL), St. Paul, San Francisco and Gallup, NM. We are currently in the process of withdrawing from our Home in San Pedro, a suburb of Los Angeles.
We face the challenges of our current situation with both realism and hope, knowing that God will never abandon the poor and that our foundress, Saint Jeanne Jugan is still with us. A number of Homes have quietly been undergoing transformations to better reflect the ideals of person-centered care, and a major reconstruction project is underway in Philadelphia. Mother General was happy to tour this work site during her visit.
Finally, Mother MarÍa and Mother Assistant Joseph Christine gathered with the superiors of our U.S. Homes and a group of Little Sisters experienced in vocation work to create an action plan for fostering vocations around the country. The Vocation Team will launch new national and regional projects and participate in a variety of discernment events around the country, while assisting each of our communities to tap into local vocation initiatives.
Please join us in praying hard for a new flourishing of vocations to all ministries in the Church, and especially to our religious family! If you know a generous young person whom you think would make a great diocesan priest or religious brother or sister, encourage them to seek guidance in their vocational discernment. And if you have any connections with local Catholic schools, youth groups or campus ministries please let us know!