150th Celebration with the Papal Nuncio
Though we had a large celebration in April for the 150th Anniversary, we had another celebration here at Queen of Peace, on October 25. This one would be a “local” celebration, especially for our Residents who were not able to attend the celebration in April. Mother Celine Thérèse wasted no time to phone the secretary of Archbishop Christopher Pierre, Papal Nuncio to the United States, to ask if the Archbishop would be the principal celebrant at the Mass of Thanksgiving. Since Archbishop Pierre’s mother died at our Home in Saint Servan, he knows the Congregation well. The Archbishop accepted, not only to preside at the Mass, but to have a meal with the Little Sisters the night before.
The day of October 25 was truly the day the Lord had made! The sun was shining and everything seemed to come together. The chapel was beautifully decorated; Mother Mary Richard and the Chorale of Little Sisters were ready to give their voices. There was a solemn entrance procession with the Cross carried by Brother Thomas Cole, O.F.M., a friend of the Congregation; an Associate and a Volunteer carrying the candles; a Novice who would proclaim the first reading; the Little Sister who would be the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion for the Residents in their rooms; seven priests; Bishop James Massa, Auxiliary Bishop of the Brooklyn Diocese, who represented the Diocese; Bishop Neil Tiedemann, C.P., an Auxiliary Bishop of the Brooklyn Diocese, whose brother is a Resident at Queen of Peace; and Archbishop Christophe Pierre. The vestment worn by the Archbishop comes from Gallup, New Mexico, and on the back of the vestment is a replica of the stained glass window of our Mother, Saint Jeanne Jugan, found in the Home there.
During his homily, the Archbishop, in speaking of our Mother, Saint Jeanne Jugan, said: “The British author Charles Dickens met Saint Jeanne Jugan once, and afterward he wrote: ‘There is in this woman something so calm, and so holy, that in seeing her I know myself to be in the presence of a superior being. Her words went straight to my heart, so that my eyes, I know not how, filled with tears.’
What was that something that she had that touched his soul? Is it that same something that the Little Sisters of the Poor possess to this day, which allows every elderly man or woman to enter a house such as this and to know that God cares for them and loves them. For here in this house and in the houses of the Little Sisters of the Poor, there is a great resistance to the throwaway culture that plagues this land and that threatens human dignity. Here we find that everyone is someone important – someone for whom the Son of Man, Jesus, entered the world to set it ablaze with divine love: someone for whom the Son of Man was willing to suffer and die – regardless of age, wealth or ability.”
After Mass, there was the traditional picture taking and then the Archbishop took time to greet some Residents and guests. He couldn’t spend too much time; however, because lunch was awaiting him in the auditorium and he had to leave at 1:15 p.m. for his plane back to Washington, DC.
While getting back into the “normal” mode, we still remember the final words of the Archbishop’s homily: “Sisters, may the Holy Spirit continue to strengthen the works of your apostolate that you may share with one another and with the Residents here the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. To paraphrase your foundress: ‘God will help you; the work is His.’”