The theme was “Our Lady of Fatima”; the song, which beautifully portrayed the gentleness of the statue, was “Mother of Gentleness”. It was Friday evening, August 10; the Community of Little Sisters of the Poor gathered together for the celebration of the Golden Jubilees of Sr. Marguerite Virginia du St Esprit and Sr. Regina of St. Margaret Mary – each celebrating 50 years of service to God, the Church and the Congregation. In addition to the beautiful decorations, there was a large display of pictures of the two Sisters from years past.
We moved to the main dining room where Residents, Association Jeanne Jugan (AJJ) members and friends were gathered to extend their wishes. The Residents presented a lovely bouquet of flowers to each of the Sisters, and tributes of love and thanksgiving were voiced . Among the speakers were Suzie Boyles, Coordinator of the AJJ who thanked the Sisters “for the many ways you have modeled humility, faith and humor over the years”. Expressing gratitude to the Sisters on behalf of the Holy Family Guild, Anna Mae Hogan spoke of the Sisters’ choosing “to become a Bride of Christ and dedicating your life to the care of the elderly poor.” A joyful song – “This Little Light of Mine”, which seemed so appropriate for the occasion, was sung by all. Father Lochner concluded with best wishes and a blessing for the Jubilarians.
Next on the agenda – a light libation while Sr. Marguerite shared her vocation story. She began by asking, “Where did you get that picture of me and my mother”? It was one of the pictures in the display. She said, “That was the last picture I had of my mother before I entered the Congregation; I never thought I would see her again this side of heaven.” Sr. Marguerite cared for her ailing mother for 15 years. Sr. Marguerite is a convert to Catholicism. One day she found herself in a Catholic Church where she sat in the dark in her loneliness. “I felt the presence of Jesus there,” she said, “more and more as I went to the church, I found peace and serenity and finally decided to become a Catholic.”
Sister was employed in a butcher shop and she would see 2 Little Sisters come in on a regular basis. She couldn’t understand why they had to beg for their food. One day, she asked them, “What do you people do that you have to come here every day and beg?” The Sisters replied, “Come and see.” So, Sr. Marguerite decided to go to their Home to see what they did. An elderly woman at the Home once told her, “you’ve got the hands of a nun”.
She decided to be a Little Sister, and was sent to our Juniorate in Detroit. After a year, she entered the Congregation, and now she is celebrating 50 years of a life given to God in caring for his elderly poor. Throughout her story, Sr. Marguerite would comment on the picture of her mother, on her beauty and how happy she was to see her again.
Several festivities were held for the Jubilarians, however, the highlight of the celebration was the Mass celebrated by Archbishop Harry Flynn with 5 priests concelebrating. The altar was very delicately and simply decorated with a lovely altar cloth hand sewn by a nearby parishioner just for the occasion, 3 standing candles and 2 floral arrangements. Everyone enjoyed the beautiful songs selected by the Jubilarians. Lawrence Lawyer, organist from St. Paul Cathedral, Lyn Peterson, cantor and Bob Harvey, guitarist added that special touch to an already lovely Mass. What a joy it was to celebrate the Liturgy with all present in honor of the two Jubilarians!
In his homily Archbishop spoke of the commitment of oneself to the consecrated life stating “there has to be something of a dreamer in one.” He spoke of the dreams Sisters Marguerite and Regina must have had and the reality of what transpired. He quoted John’s gospel (1:38): Jesus asked the disciples “What are you looking for?” They responded, “Where are you staying?” In asking where he stays the disciples are wondering about the form of life that sustains him, the source of his power. Jesus responds: “Come and See.”
Archbishop spoke of dreams and the realities; he spoke of commitment and the life of Jeanne Jugan; of love and perseverance. He continued, “Dear Sister Marguerite Virginia and Sister Regina of St. Margaret Mary, as I look at you today, Little Sisters of the Poor, some precious words of Jeanne Jugan well up in my heart: ‘Be little, very little! Keep the spirit of humility, of simplicity: If we should happen to believe that we are something the congregation would no longer glorify God; we would fall.’ As we look on you today, none of us can tell what your consecration of fifty years has meant to you. That would be entering a sanctuary where none of us belong. Every vocation to any apostolate springs freely from communication with God. Asking over and over, in spite of the reality – ‘Where do you live, Jesus?’ And hearing the answer repeated down through the years – ‘Come and see! Come and see!’ “
A lovely dinner was had by the Sisters, families, and friends, after which, we adjourned to the auditorium where we were entertained by an Elvis Presley impersonator. He sang many of Elvis’ hits and several spiritual songs. He was very kind and considerate of everyone present. The look on Sr. Marguerite’s face was priceless as “Elvis” came off the stage and knelt beside her singing one of his best-known songs. Everyone stamped their feet and clapped for the beautiful performance.
Later in the evening, it was Sr. Regina’s turn to share her vocation story with us. “When I was in the first grade, my sister told me to go with her to the Home of the Little Sisters. I remember a long table with drawers; I picked up a cup and dropped it. I cried, but the Sister told me not to worry. I went to the Home often and by the time I was in the sixth grade I went on my own without my sister. I knew then I wanted to be a Little Sister. It’s hard to visualize, but I would walk 9 blocks to the home on the North side. After school I went to the South side; I came back on the streetcar and went back to the North side and then went home. We moved to New Orleans when I was a sophomore in school. In May I went to the Juniorate in California. When I graduated, I entered the congregation in August.
Congratulations Sr. Marguerite Virginia and Sr. Regina of St. Margaret Mary!