Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Little Sisters of the Poor

Today I had every intention to blog about a story my mom told me of the Little Sisters of the Poor. We have been in Chicago the past two days buying for the bookstore and our time together included quite a few stories about her when she was a little girl, which I love to hear. Then, as I sat at Mass, I realized that today is the Feast of St. John of God, one of my favorites and the Gospel reading was about Lazarus. I thought that God could not have given me a better sign to write about the poor and the sick until I got to work, to catch up on a few things, and found a message for my mother that read: Sister Clare called from the Little Sisters of the Poor. She said to tell your mother and Mrs. McGinn hello and that she missed St. Mary's and Nashville and that she prays for you all and the store. She is now in Totowa, NJ. She used to be in Indiana. Wow!
St. John of God served the sick and the poor in the streets and in the hospitals. He would have cared for Lazarus who would have taken even the scraps from the rich man's table. Moved by the poor, sick elderly lining the streets of cities in France, Jeanne Jugan founded the Little Sisters of the Poor in the 19th Century who today serve the poor and the elderly in 31 countries. The story is told that one day when Jugan begged a young man for money, he hit her in the face. She said to the man, "You gave that to me, now give me something for the elderly."
In the early 1900's the Little Sisters of the Poor were brought to Nashville by Bishop Byrne to care for the aged poor. My mom recalls the story her grandfather shared. He was the chief of police and the Little Sisters begged at the station quite frequently. In true imitation of her community's foundress, one of the sisters entered the building and asked the policeman at the front, "Can you give something for the poor and the sick today?" As she held out her hand, the man leaned over the counter and spit right in it. The sister calmly put that hand behind her back and putting her other hand forward said, "That was for me. Can you please give something now for the poor and the sick?"
Today, in a special way, remember the poor and the elderly and the sick. But, pray also for those who care for them and dedicate their lives in this service. God bless the Little Sisters of the Poor and the doctors and nurses who donate their time and their services to help those who cannot help themselves.


  1. The sister handled that so well! What a good lesson for us to hold onto.

    Thank you.

  2. I heard the same story about Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. God bless the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Missionaries of Charity!