Long before Vatican II and its Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Jeanne Jugan understood the indispensable role of the laity in the mission of the Church. She herself was a layperson, when under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; she gave a loving home to a poor, neglected elderly woman. Then with the assistance of a small group of other laypeople she was able to care for more. It was only later with the development of her work and the action of the Spirit in her that she consecrated herself to God as a religious and the Congregation known today as Little Sisters of the Poor, evolved.
Down through the years, laypeople such as benefactors and volunteers play a very necessary part in the life and work of the Congregation. The Association Jeanne Jugan, approved by the Church in 1998 offers to lay men and women the opportunity of sharing in the mission and charism of Jeanne Jugan. It fosters growth in their Christian life of faith and service. The Associates make an annual promise on May 1st each year, thus committing themselves to serve with joy and love and follow the example of humility and confidence of Jeanne Jugan.
Meetings, days of prayer or retreats strengthen the Associates in their resolve to deepen the charism of Jeanne Jugan. On Monday April 16 they were privileged to have a Retreat Day directed by Archabbot Lambert Reilly O.S.B., a long time friend of the Little Sisters. The Archabbot, through his long life of prayer, has the gift of making people laugh while helping his audience understand some spiritual truth. “It was just a wonderful day for us all” said Frank and Cathie Gilhot AJJ members. “We laughed a lot and learned a lot.”