Courtney is beloved CNA at the Little Sister’s Holy Family Residence in St. Paul, MN. She spent 6 weeks with us as a Hospitality Intern in the Spring into Service Program this summer. Below, she shares her thoughts and experiences.
“Courtney are you ready for June First?” Mother Maria (Mother Superior of Holy Family Residence in St. Paul, MN) asked casually. “What’s June First?” I asked. “You will be going to Palatine for the Spring into Service program.” Mother Maria replied.
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As soon as I stepped through the front doors of the Little Sisters of the Poor, I felt right at home. I was greeted with warm hugs and smiles. I was the first to arrive. Emma and Jenny arrived later that day. Those are the two young women whom I would be spending the next 6 weeks with. We became instant friends. Sr. Diane called us “The Three Musketeers.” After our first day we joined the Sisters for evening prayer. Following that we joined the Sisters outside the Chapel and each Little Sister welcomed us with a smile and introduced themselves.
The next 6 weeks I got a peek into the lives of the Little Sisters and what it means to be one. Watching the Sisters interact with the Residents I remembered a quote by Jeanne Jugan: “Making the elderly happy, that is what counts.”
The three of us had a chance to work with the Sisters on a daily basis. Jenny and I helped out on 2nd floor with Sr. Judith and Emma helped on 1st with Sr. Paul. Every day as I passed Sr. Agnes’ room I was always greeted with a warm smile and a “Hi buddy!” or “How is my friend?” She is an amazing Little Sister. I enjoyed our walks we would take in the afternoon and she would share her vocation story with me. Some days we would sit outside in front of the Jeanne Jugan statue and pray the rosary.
The three of us also had the opportunity to help out in activities where we learned how to play Bunco and Mexican train dominoes. We also got to teach some of the Residents how to Wii bowl. It turns out that there are some pretty good bowlers at Little Sisters! I really enjoyed joining the Residents for “Move to the Music”. It was fun to watch the way they reacted to the music. Some liked dancing to it while others enjoyed singing along. It was time to be goofy and just have fun and it was a great way to really interact with the Residents.
Each Saturday, Emma, Jenny and I lead the “Faith Sharing” group with some of the Residents. We would read Sunday’s readings and then reflect on them. We would all share anything that jumped out at us or that we did not understand. It was a great preparation for the Sunday Mass and gave us a better understanding of the readings.
During our stay we also got the chance to visit the home in Chicago and join the Sisters there for dinner and then a short tour of the Home. Afterwards we all piled into the van and got a wonderful tour of Chicago from one of the Sisters who shared with us a lot of interesting facts on its’ history as she pointed out different landmarks.
Every Sunday we joined the Sisters for a meal and recreation. It was a joyful time filled with many laughs and stories and some serious game playing!
While I was staying with the Sisters I grew even closer to our Lord and deepened my prayer life. Every time I would enter into the chapel I felt the love the Lord had for me and I would be filled with joy and excitement.
It is hard to say good bye to this part of my journey. I have made so many friends and made so many memories. I have fallen in love with each one of the Residents. God has blessed me with this wonderful opportunity to be able to be a part of the “Spring into Service” program. I will never forget the joy and love the Sisters and Residents brought into my life during my stay. A beautiful and wise Little Sister told me “Goodbyes are not easy. Friendships are like gem stones. They are valuable because people become a part of you and help you to grow. They are happy memories to fall back on.” – Mother Maria
~ Courtney, Hospitality Intern