On Saturday, June 1 we celebrated our sesquicentennial with an afternoon open house and Mass at 4 p.m.
During the open house we offered tours of the house and invited guests to learn about the history of the Congregation in America by listening to our Mission Impossible Podcast Series, made up of historical-fiction interviews from each of our first 13 homes in the United States. At the same time, we served up New Orleans-style beignets and cafe au lait in our French cafe as Saint Jeanne Jugan, played by Sr. Loretto, greeted our guests.
Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Chrispohe Pierre and a number of priest-friends. The honor guard from the Knights of Columbus, John Paul II Shrine Council, led the entrance procession with the pilgrim banner of our foundress. Dan Macalinao, one of two Paulist novices who volunteer in our home, served as organist and cantor and then played piano at the Residents’ party after Mass. Two LaSalette seminarians, one of whom also serves in the home, were the altar servers. Women religious from several communities attended the open house and Mass. The presence of so many friends from the consecrated life reminded us of all the religious communities who helped the Little Sisters when they first arrived in America.
“One hundred fifty years ago, filled with the Holy Spirit, some brave Little Sisters embarked on their mission in the United States. They had a mission to find the hungry, sick and naked elderly poor and to clothe them in dignity,” Archbishop Pierre said in his homily. “Saint Jeanne Jugan and the Little Sisters of the Poor glorify God in their littleness, in their poverty and in their care for the poor. In a world that tends to value people based on efficiency and productivity , there is a great danger — a risk to the life and dignity of the human person, especially of the elderly poor, who maybe are not as productive or efficient as they once were….”
The archbishop continued, “It is at times like these that we must ask the Lord to be close to us and to send us once more the Holy Spirit to enkindle in us the fire of Divine Love, so that we may have the courage to witness to the gift of human life and defend the dignity of others, clothing them, above all, in unconditional love.”
“Jesus has ascended to the father, but the mission of making God’s love known remains for his disciples. We are his disciples. The disciples were told that they would be witnesses. The Apostles and many of the martyrs of the Church were witnesses to these things — his death, resurrection and ascension. They dipped their robes in the blood of the Lamb and so were clothed in the glory and entered heaven — communion with God. Saint Jeanne Jugan, though not a martyr, witnessed to the power of God’s love among the elderly poor, clothing them in dignity and herself in holiness.”
After Mass our guests enjoyed a reception in the Breezeway, while the Residents were escorted downstairs to the auditorium for a festive dinner served by young adults from the archdiocese. Our celebration with the Residents was made complete by a champagne toast offered by Montse Alvarado, our great friend from the Becket Fund.