Celebrating St. Jeanne Jugan in Philadelphia
August 30, 2021, the feast of our foundress St. Jeanne Jugan, was a significant day in Philly for the whole extended family. Reading “Saint Jeanne Jugan, God’s Tenderness for the World” with the Residents for the nine days leading up to the feast was informative for many (like Ann B. who said she knew absolutely nothing about her); it was inspirational for many (like Jane A. who said: “Jeanne made me want to be more aware of the blessings of old age and the joy of giving!”); and it was very enriching for the Little Sisters as they marveled at the remarks of the Residents and the staff.
Holy Hour on the eve of the solemnity of St. Jeanne Jugan was a prayerful deepening of what we had learned during the novena. The readings and refrains during the vigil, the moments of silence, Evening Prayer and Benediction presided by Father Sullivan, helped us all to appreciate these and many other insights received while preparing for the feast.
Additionally, the 9 days of communal reading opened the hearts to participate more attentively at 10:30 Mass. Our chaplain, Father James Sullivan’s homily brought home so many points made during the novena. The Little Sisters nodded in agreement when he said, “For a religious community the feast day of their founder is a family celebration of identity – who they are, what they are about, why they live as they do.” The Residents smiled when Father said, “St. Jeanne Jugan was a Woman of the Basket. A basket gets its value when used. A basket must be opened to receive. A basket must be opened to give. We, here at Holy Family Home, can consider ourselves as being in Jeanne Jugan’s Basket! She was open to receive us and she is open to have us give to others in return . . .”
The rest of the day was in perfect sync with what we heard in the reading as well. As the day played out, we found echoes of our Mother’s advice to the novices: “Making the Aged happy is what counts!” A delicious, well-presented dinner made them happy. A fun game of Jeanne Jugan Bingo animated by employees from all departments and Little Sisters made them happy too. Finally, Mr. Softee made them happy! This was a first in Philly! The ice cream truck drove right up to the front door and all – Residents, Staff, and Little Sisters – enjoyed a nice ice cream treat! The vendor was so impressed by the happy sight, he gave a discount of $150! St. Jeanne Jugan must have smiled down on her happy Little Family!