By Anthony Barich
THE Little Sisters of the Poor at Glendalough are rejoicing at the news accounted on February 21 of the long-awaited canonisation of their foundress, Jeanne Jugan.
The canonisation will take place on October 11 in Rome.
The miracle attributed to her intercession was the cure of American anaethetist Dr Edward Gatz of Omaha, Nebraska, who was diagnosed with a cancerous lesion in the lower part of the esophagus in January 1989.
He was given six to 13 months to live and his wife approached Fr Richard McGloin SJ to share with him her sorrow over her husband’s illness and to seek some spiritual support.
The Jesuit encouraged Mrs Gatz to pray and gave her the Novena prayer to Blessed Jeanne Jugan whom he knec through the Little Sisters of the Poor since he had formerly been Chaplain to their home in Milwaukee and whom he held in veneration.
Fr McGloin and Mrs Gatz prayed Novena prayers daily, and in March 1989 when further tests were performed there was no sign of the tumour. Dr Gatz is still alive and well today aged 71.
Jeanne Jugan, born in Cancale, Brittany, in 1792, was a stalwart provider and protector of the dignity of the elderly in post-revolution France. The founding gesture was in 1839, when she welcomed the first elderly blind lady to her home, giving up her bed. This act committed her forever. A second elderly woman followed, then a third…
In 1884 the first foundation was made in Australia in Melbourne, and today there are four Houses – in Kalgoorlie, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. There are now 2710 Little Sisters of the Poor operating in 202 Homes on the six continents, welcoming over 13,000 residents, with new foundations opening up in Colombia, South Korea, Chile, India, Peru and the Philippines in the last 20 years.
The Sisters came to Adelaide Terrace, Perth in 1920 and moved on to Glendalough in 1921. Sister Elizabeth Anne Lee LSP, Superior of the nine Sisters, said that Blessed Jeanne Jugan’s charism and spirituality inspired her to join the congregation in Singapore; her life as a Little Sister of the Poor is “very fulfilling”.
One of the Community added: “It is the most rewarding vocation I could ever have.” Like Blessed Jeanne Jugan, the Little Sisters of the Poor in Glendalough depend on Divine Providence which manifests itself through the goodness of their benefactors and friends, including church collections.
Today the Little Sisters of the Poor continue the initial gesture of Jeanne Jugan; they welcome, comfort, care for and accompany, until the end of their lives, the elderly whom God has placed on their path. They accomplish this with great respect for life, their family, their convictions, in collaboration with Associates and lay staff and volunteers.
For information on the life and work of Jeanne Jugan, contact email@example.com or phone (08) 94433155.