Because the spirit of Jeanne Jugan is so much part of the lives and homes of Little Sisters of the Poor everywhere, it is only fitting that her Feast on August 30th be celebrated with due solemnity and gratitude. Here in Cincinnati our preparations began with an outdoor Novena by her beautiful statue on the front patio. Residents and employees were invited to attend so that newcomers to our Home would come to better know our Mother and admire her simple and holy life. Some residents felt duty bound to inform their new fellow residents all about Jeanne Jugan and in their admiration of our Mother they related things which were never written but which only love and imagination could suggest. The Novena which began at 9.30 each morning included a reading from the Positio, narrating incidents, which revealed her great virtue. It ended with the Hymn “Jeanne Daughter of Providence.” When the program for the Feast- day was posted, the game of “Jeopardy” on the life of our Mother was scheduled after dinner, so booklets on Jeanne Jugan were left at the disposal of employees and residents. The Transitus on the evening of August 29th prepared us still more for the grace of this Feast Day.
Our Eucharist at 10.30am was indeed the highlight of the Feast. Bishop Joseph Binzer was celebrant, with our resident Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk and four priests concelebrating. In his homily, Bishop Binzer began with words of Our Holy Father on the occasion of the canonization of our Mother, October 11th 2009.”Jeanne lived the mystery of love, peacefully accepting obscurity and self emptying until her death. Her charism is ever timely while so many elderly are suffering from numerous forms of poverty and solitude and are sometimes also abandoned by their families” Bishop Binzer went on to say that Jeanne Jugan was a true follower of Our Lord. She believed that Jesus gave His life for us and that we are called to give up our lives for others. She allowed God to work through her to make the world a better place and she reminds us that a saint is someone who engages in a humble life of service. He then thanked us for our work which is guided by the evangelical spirit expressed by Jesus in the Beatitudes. The beautiful liturgy was enhanced by the music of Ted Wartman an AJJ member and the familiar songs of Jeanne Jugan, sung with full voice.
A family meal followed. Residents and employees in a relaxed and happy mood took their places at table with servings of good home-made cooking. Jeanne Jugan would be so happy to see this family spirit as they shared and chatted while enjoying the meal. Diets were forgotten when Sr. Mary Imelda’s delicious lemon meringue pie appeared on the desert table. After all this was a special Feast! When the tables were cleared again, it was time for the “Jeopardy” contest on the life and work of Jeanne Jugan. Most had come well prepared while a few counted on prompts. But it was an animated and enjoyable thirty minutes and we were happy to see the response of our residents and employees.
It was a day of blessings for us all, a day when our Mother St Jeanne Jugan seems to have revisited our home.