Traveling Pilgrim Tapestry
The six week visit of our Pilgrim Tapestry is coming to an end. On its journey to visit each Home in our Chicago Province, it will head next to Louisville, KY.
Trying to make the most of the time that the Pilgrim Tapestry has spent here, we have been busy sharing the Tapestry with as many of our friends as we could.
We took the banner to the Shrine of our Lady of Good Help (the site of the only approved Marion Apparition in the US) in Champion, Wisconsin, where it was placed on the altar during Mass. We prayed for all of our friends at the crypt of Sr. Adele to whom Our Lady appeared.
On the way we stopped in Denmark, WI at the Monastery of the Holy Name of Jesus to pray with the Carmelite nuns. Upon our return, we also had an opportunity to pray evening prayer with the Carmelites in Des Plaines, IL.
In thanksgiving for our dear friends in our local community who have done so much for us, on three Saturday evenings, a busload of Residents and Little Sisters took the Pilgrim Tapestry and a relic of Saint Jeanne Jugan to St. Theresa Parish and St. Thomas of Villanova Parish in Palatine, and Holy Family Parish in Inverness.
Mother spoke to the parishioners, “I come bearing good news: we are not here to ask for money, for a change! We’re here to pray with you, and to share with you the joy of our 150th anniversary and most of all to say a heartfelt thank you for all that you do for us. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Little Sisters arrival in the United States.”
She asked them to imagine what it was like 150 years ago when seven Little Sisters left our Motherhouse in France on a mission to expand our still young Congregation beyond Europe to the shores of America. Their destination was Brooklyn, NY. Only two of them spoke English. They were both Irish. Four of the others were French and one was German. None had ever been to America and they had no idea what to expect. After several rough weeks at sea on a ship that sank two years later, they arrived in New York.
The year was 1868 and conditions for the poor, especially the elderly poor were deplorable. Imagine how these young women felt, most of them were used to farm houses and property. For the first time they were seeing tenements that were bursting at the seams with immigrants from every nation. Disease was rampant, so were the con-artists. And where were the elderly? Many were begging on bustling street corners, many forgotten by those who couldn’t support them.
Yes, the elderly in America needed the Little Sisters. And the Little Sisters needed friends who would help them learn the American ways, help them acquire lodging, bedding and so much more for these elderly poor.
Who did the Sisters turn to in those early days? Who showed the Sisters where to go and how to establish their collecting route? It was local Parishioners and kind Parish priests who helped the Little Sisters get established. Men and women opened their hearts to the Little Sisters, they brought furniture, and cooking utensils; they collected blankets and food, and introduced the Sisters to their friends and neighbors. And they quickly learned from these Sisters that they were truly helping our Lord when they helped the elderly in need.
Over the years we have evolved in many ways, but our work is the same. We still care for the elderly in need, and we still rely heavily on our friends: our benefactors, and volunteers. This anniversary is a time for us to say thank you to all the good people who help us to keep our work alive and well.
We have many wonderful friends who help support us financially, you remember us in wills. Many of you volunteer in our home in so many ways. You work in our garden, answer our phones, drive the Residents to appointments and shopping trips; you fold linens, make beds, do manicures, help feed the sick, you paint and repair our building, peel potatoes, set 3 tables, bring your dogs to visit the Residents, you play the piano, provide music and song, you bring your children into our Home for fun at Halloween. You are cantors at our liturgies and callers at bingo. Most of all you provide friendship!
Your support truly helps us to make our House a home. We hope you feel our grateful prayers. God bless you!”