Mother General’s Visit
History was made this April, 2023! The three U.S.A. Provinces of the Little Sisters of the Poor were combined to form two. Mother General Maria promised to come to assist with the re-organization of the Western “Province of Chicago” and the Eastern “Province of Baltimore-Brooklyn.” She did indeed arrive in America on April 12, 2023 and she delighted us with a brief but powerful visit to Philadelphia on April 18, 2023.
As Mother General Maria entered the lobby, she found herself clapping and keeping time to the “Mummer’s Strut” being danced by employees Cathy Moffit, Kathy Kagel, Lisa Dorrin, and Joan Lemmon dressed in elaborate New Year’s Day Parade costumes.
Rose Adams, 101 ½ year old Resident, then led the “Meet & Greet,” giving Mother General Maria a bouquet along with her characteristic litany of “Love You! Love You!” Sandra Layton, Former receptionist, now Apartment Resident also gave flowers. Souvenirs of Philadelphia were then presented to Mother General Mariaby Patricia Lo, Administrator of Holy Family Home and Association Jeanne Jugan Province Coordinator, and by Lisa Dorrin, Director of Nursing who was recently received into the Catholic Church by our Chaplain, Father James Sullivan. He was also there to greet Mother General Maria. Sr. Thomasina, RSM – Sister of Mercy, lifetime friend of the Home and sister of Mother Margaret Regina, brought Philly Soft Pretzels.
National flags were given to Mother General Maria by Mary Frances Cantwell, a dedicated Oblate, and Associate, sharing the mission and the spirit of the Little Sisters for over 50 years. Apartment Resident Paul Buzas ordered, through Amazon, a presentation platter of dried Mediterranean fruits to offer Mère with well-prepared words of welcome in English and Spanish. Everyone clapped when he declared: “¡Le queremos, Madre!” and she responded: “¡Yo también—Los quiero!”
Rev. Dennis Gill, Rector of our Cathedral, represented the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and thanked Mother General Maria for our loyal service to the Church. Other generous supporters of our mission also came to for this historic occasion. These included Dick and Angela Clark, Benefactors and Co–chairpersons of the Capital Campaign; Sarah Hanley, President of the Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia; Craig Sabatino, Edward Rowe and Steve Rhodes from the Construction Team for our building project; and Jeff Bohlen, from SFCS Architects.
This initial meeting–and–greeting was followed by a prayerful pause in the Chapel and then a brief tour of the new Care Household and Convent under construction. Then came the much-awaited encounter with all the Residents and staff gathered in the Second Floor Dining Room. Katherine Balkenhol, Resident of Holy Family for 35 years, and dressed for the occasion as Betsy Ross, shared the heartfelt sentiments of all in a few words. Then a burst of lively greetings filled the room. Dorothy, CNA animated the singing as everyone joined in clapping and waving flags. Patty Zubick, AJJ Coordinator, gave souvenirs on behalf of the group. The kitchen staff outdid themselves preparing a delicious meal and serving it with style. Mother General Maria took the time to offer “Philadelphia TastyKakes” to everyone, as Mother Celine Thérèse introduced each with a personal touch.
For the Little Sisters, the highlight of the Visit was the fraternal sharing of dinner and recreation with their Mother General. Seemingly, for the Residents and staff, the best part was the excitement over the preparations, anticipation, and then finally getting to meet this distinguished guest in person. As one employee put it: “The Top–Mother turned out to be so warm and welcoming! I could tell she was happy to meet us. She put us at ease!” A very sharp-eyed Resident said he sensed it did everyone from every department good to feel involved. Yes, we were all part of this celebration of the extended family spirit of our Home. Holy Family Home in the City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love, which has been marked by the presence of the daughters of Jeanne Jugan for over 150 years, will continue her work with renewed enthusiasm thanks to this historic visit of Mother General Maria!