By our vow of hospitality we promise God to consecrate ourselves exclusively to the service of the elderly poor. We welcome them into our homes, form one family with them, accompany them from day to day and care for them with love and respect until God calls them home.
Through our vow of hospitality the Church has given us a mandate to prolong Christ’s mission of charity—to convey to the elderly, in the concrete realities of everyday life, the kindness and love of God for them, his eldest children.
Consecrated hospitality is a witness to the mercy and compassionate love of the heart of Jesus. It is based on the words of Christ himself:
- “Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7)
- “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me … sick and you visited me.… Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:35–40).
Our foundress, Saint Jeanne Jugan, echoed these words of our Lord as she often said, “Never forget that the poor are Our Lord. In caring for the poor say to yourself: This is for my Jesus—what a great grace!”
As Hospitaller religious our lives are made up of many humble, hidden tasks. We serve the elderly day and night, striving to meet their physical needs, to make them happy and to minister to them spiritually. We accomplish our mission together as a community, each one bringing her gifts and talents to the work of hospitality.
The accompaniment and care of the dying is the summit of our vocation. In today’s world it is an ever more powerful witness of the culture of life. By the look in his eyes or by the silence of his whole being, the elderly person who is near death asks us this question: “Does my life still have any value? Is it worth living?” To each person we respond with a resounding yes!
Thanks to Saint Jeanne Jugan’s presence among us, we continue her spirit as we pursue our mission of hospitality today. Reflecting on the canonization of our foundress, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., referred to our homes as icons of mercy:
“The quiet but eloquent radiance of Jeanne’s life continues to shine out in the lives of the Little Sisters of the Poor today. I can attest to this through my personal experience, as for a number of years my aunt was cared for in one of their homes. These residences are icons of mercy where Christ is welcomed and served in the elderly poor with the utmost respect for their dignity. May God be praised and may the entire Church rejoice at the public proclamation of the extraordinary holiness of Jeanne Jugan.”