When we learned about the request that communities of consecrated women and men host open houses on February 8 we didn’t know quite how we would pull this off, since our convent is under renovation and is currently uninhabitable! So we put our heads together to come up with a creative alternative plan for an open house, which we held Sunday, February 8 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
We took our cues from Pope Francis’ letter to religious of November 21, 2014. Mother Mary Michael greeted our guests at the front door and, to celebrate our past, they directed them to a display on our foundress, Saint Jeanne Jugan, where Sr Mary Bernard shared the history of our humble beginnings. Various types of literature about Jeanne Jugan and our Congregation were available.
Our guests were then led to the first floor, where several activities presented our vocation today. Concerned by the current threats to the dignity of the most vulnerable in our society (i.e. we recently learned that assisted suicide is now up for debate in over 20 states), we were eager to expose people to the Church’s teaching on the reverence of human life. Our activities focused on the heart — not primarily because Valentine’s Day was just a week away — but because Pope Francis’ messages for the World Day of the Sick and Lent reflect on wisdom of the heart in caring for the sick and overcoming indifference to others by opening our hearts to them.
Our Residents were on hand selling Valentine pendants and bookmarks they had worked several weeks to create. Each one was presented on a card with a quote from Pope Francis’ World Day of the Sick and Lenten messages. While some of our guests shopped, others enjoyed fellowship and homemade Valentine cookies in a nearby Resident lounge.
Around the corner our guests were invited to view a video reflection on our Holy Father’s words on caring for the sick and to write out prayer intentions for a prayer chain to be placed in our chapel. Continuing our theme, the links of the chain, which Sr Joseph Mary put together, were heart-shaped. Most of the guests also spent a few quiet moments in prayer in our chapel.
Our second floor activity represented the future. Sr Mary Jamina presented our new vocation video, Love Serves, and answered questions about our vocation.
At 4:30 p.m. we concluded the afternoon with Eucharistic adoration and Vespers, during which we sang the official hymn for the Year of Consecrated Life, Wake the World with Dawning Joy. Our Residents were proud that all their Valentines had sold before the afternoon ended and we Little Sisters were happy to have participated in promoting the consecrated life in union with our fellow consecrated women and men in the archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and throughout the United States.