We began our festivities on Wednesday, August 29, welcoming the tapestry banner of St. Jeanne Jugan to the chapel, which was beautifully decorated with bouquets that matched its colors. This joyful moment was followed with a Vigil program, containing enlightening readings on the arrival of the Little Sisters in America; including reflections on Fr. Ernest Lelievre and Sarah Peter, both instrumental in our presence in the United States. Testimonies from two early American Little Sisters who remembered St. Jeanne Jugan from La Tour, France brought these early days to life.
Due to marvelous collaboration among our Residents, staff, volunteers and benefactors, the feast day on August 30th was a complete success. The Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Hebda, surrounded by twelve Priests and two Deacons. The organ accompaniment was provided by Lawrence Lawyer, who is an AJJ member and the Saint Paul Cathedral organist. The chapel was full of Residents, friends, and benefactors.
A highlight of the day was a display entitled “The Miracle Mile.” The idea came to one of our employees as she drove the Little Sisters for a donation of bread. It consisted of framed accounts of many traits of Providence gleaned from newsletters from Europe and the U.S. Each account was accompanied by a sample of the gift, from roof tiles to butter and potatoes, china dishes to lumps of coal and fresh croissants. This long table attracted much interest and drew many admirers.
The main dining room was re-named “Le Restaurante de la Mansarde” for the occasion. A large group of guests remained for dinner, which had a French menu. Besides the elegant dinner, they appreciated their chocolate treats and crème brulee.
During the afternoon, a retired employee who is an excellent storyteller happily gave an account of the arrival of the Little Sisters in St. Paul, to the Residents and community. Homemade bread, mostly baked and donated by our employees from different countries and/or ethnical backgrounds was served with whipped butter. Coffee, smoothies and juice were also served.
Finishing this extraordinary day, we gave thanks before the exposed Blessed Sacrament with a community Rosary and the Vespers of St. Jeanne Jugan. Our 150th celebrations of the Little Sisters in the United States will continue throughout the month of September. We are grateful to all our benefactors for supporting us these last 150 years and look forward to continuing our mission for another 150 years.
The Feast of St. Jeanne Jugan was the opening of our Sesquicentennial Celebration