“One of the foundational virtues of our congregation,” Sister Constance Veit told CNA Dec. 20, is “trust in providence.”
The Little Sisters of the Poor were founded by Saint Jeanne Jugan in France the 1830s to take care of the elderly poor, who had no one else to look after them. They now operate homes throughout the world, with 30 in the U.S. serving some 2,500 persons.
“There is a line from our Constitutions that keeps coming to mind, Jeanne Jugan's 'realistic attitude to events in no way prevented her from discovering in them the action of God,” Sr. Constance said.
“Difficulties never made her doubt his loving solicitude: 'That seems impossible, but if God is with us, it will be accomplished.' With serene confidence, she found her support in this certitude.'”
Each of the group's apostolates has a designated “collecting sister” who visits local businesses, begging for the food, clothing, and other needs of the elderly poor whom the Little Sisters serve.
Sr. Constance said that the Little Sisters' reliance on providence will get them through the approaching HHS contraception mandate crisis.
“This is how we are trying to approach this issue at this point, praying that God will resolve this in his time.”
“We are constantly dependent on Providence and the kindness of others to support us.”
Another sister said that this is how the order has always faced its challenges.
Sister Cornelia, the superior at the Sisters' Mullen Home apostolate in Denver, related a story of St. Jeanne Jugan's first home for the elderly.
The saint secured a house in which to care for the elderly, but had no supplies to go along with it. Her benefactor asked her how she was going to feed so many people.
Saint Jeanne Jugan replied, “If God fills the house, he will not abandon it.”
“She always prayed for the benefactors, and made sure the residents prayed for them too,” said Sister Cornelia.
“So we have a Mass said every month, and everyday the sisters and the residents pray for our benefactors, all those who help us in any way.”
Sister Cornelia said that the generosity provided by God at Christmas time “really helps us throughout the year.”
In addition to the donations made to sustain the apostolate throughout the year, the residents at the home receive visits and presents from surrounding parishes and schools.
Three parishes, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Littleton, Risen Christ in Denver, and St. Joan of Arc in Arvada, put up “giving trees” at their parishes. Parishioners get gifts, which the residents requested on the giving tree. Then there are a series of parties for the residents.
Also this week, school children came to visit the residents at Mullen Home. Today kids from Our Lady of the Visitation brought Christmas ornaments, and on Dec. 18 the children from Our Lady of Lourdes came Christmas caroling at the home.
“We loved bringing the joy of the coming season to all the residents,” said Our Lady of Lourdes teacher Morgan McGinn.
As the winter season continues, the Little Sisters of the Poor are relying on God's providence to help their care for the elderly poor, as they always have.
Poverty, Religious Sisters