Saint Jeanne Jugan


(Jeanne Jugan was canonized
By Pope Benedict the XVI
In Rome
On Oct. 11th 2009)

“One day you will be canonized…”

was the exclamation of a very curious and outspoken novice who had been attracted to the very humble Mother Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, Jeanne Jugan.

“No! never!”

was the quick, terse and firm voice of Jeanne Jugan whose only desire was to live a humble, hidden life in the service of the Poor.

Yes “for once she was wrong!” because in 1982 when Jeanne was Beatified, the Church recognized her sanctity and today, after your canonization on the 11th of October 2009, we can only say:  “Yes, for once you were wrong!”

But only once ……..

So very many other times, whatever Jeanne Jugan spoke about, SHE WAS ALWAYS RIGHT! 

Do you remember when she said:

“God wants me for Himself! He is keeping me for a work that is not yet known, for a work that is not yet founded!”

And so it happened on a cold Winter’s Day in 1839, this “unknown work” began when Jeanne brought to her own home, an elderly blind, paralyzed lady and put her in her own bed and began to care for her like her own mother.  The Unknown work began!  She was right!

Another time she said:

“Give, give us the house.  If God fills it, God will not abandon it!”

After the first old lady, one by one, more kept coming… and then the old men… and then a shelter was given them… and then a larger house was found… And God began to fill it with more and more elderly people.  Once again she was right! God never abandoned any of the Homes founded by her or her daughters!  He was always there to help them. She was right!

She also said:

“If God is with us, it will be accomplished!”

And so with so many elderly poor people to look after, Jeanne began to beg for them… going door to door to ask for alms… And Yes, so many people responded by giving her donations for her poor… Yes, God was with her… the maintenance of her Homes and the care of her elderly were  assured through the Providence of God… through the Begging “it was  accomplished”…  Right again, Jeanne!

We also remember Jeanne said:

“The Poor are our Lord”

This time again, of course she was right… she had to be right… because what she said only repeated what Jesus Himself had said; “Whatever you do to the least of these my brothers, you do unto me!” Again Jeanne was right!

We cannot forget this:

“You know well what is happening, my dear Jesus.  I have only You.  Come to my aid… and then go your way. And don’t worry about knowing how you are going to manage. It is enough to have told Our Good Lord.  He has an excellent memory.

Jeanne knew our Lord well.  He had never disappointed her (nor anyone else who puts their faith in Him). Jesus never forgets whatever we take to Him in prayer. All the worries and sufferings, hopes and aspirations, that Jeanne spoke to Him about were always taken care of by this “Master of the Impossible” And this is why she always radiated peace and serenity. She was truly right to say that “He has a good memory!”

Another time she said:

“My little ones, it is so good to be poor, to have nothing, to depend on God for everything!”

The witness of the Homes for the Aged founded by Jeanne and then down through the past 170 years those founded by her daughters, the Little Sisters of the Poor, are an undeniable proof, that it is “good to depend on God for everything”. God provides abundantly for the needs of the elderly in the Homes of Jeanne Jugan, in the measure that we trust Him.  Jeanne was not mistaken.

Once again Jeanne was right when she said:

The Hail Mary will take us to Heaven!”

Why could Jeanne be so sure of that?  Because she knew Mary was her Mother… a Mother whom she trusted and loved… a Mother whom she gave to her daughters to be their “Model, Joy and Protection”.   Yes, and it was Mary who came and took her to heaven. Her last words were: “O Mary, my dear mother, come to me. You know that I love you and that I long to see you.”   Right again, up until her last breath!

And to all her future daughters, the Little Sisters of the Poor she had said:

“It is a great grace that God has given you in calling you to serve the poor.”

The congregation of The Little Sisters of the Poor was founded in France by Jeanne Jugan in the year 1839.  The charism of the congregation is humble service to the elderly.  The Little Sisters of the Poor, her daughters, today, spread out in 31 countries of the world, understand that it is truly a great grace God has given them to serve the elderly poor in their Homes for the Aged. “Ever living among her daughters” Jeanne proves that she was right again by the radiance of their lives, that it truly is a great grace God has given them in calling them to serve the poor!

The home which is a part of our Parish, was established in 1958 and is open to those aged 65 years and above and who lack the resources to live in a paying institution. The community of the Little Sisters of the Poor is committed to the care and well being of the inmates of the home, which goes beyond any consideration of caste, class or religion. They depend entirely on the charity of the public, whose support has been unfailing all these years.

Life in the Home is shared in every way; joys and sorrows, limitations and strengths, giving and receiving. As much as possible, each resident has some occupation.  For those less active or in need of constant care, the involvement of all is encouraged, including the families of the aged, the staff, volunteers and benefactors.

Yes, Jeanne, you were always right because your words, were just an echo of the Gospel which you had meditated on throughout your life and which became a part of you!  Even when you objected to any thought or mention of a “canonization” you were right for your only desire was to imitate Jesus in His humility and self-effacement.

Little Sisters of the Poor,
Home for the Aged,
Mahakali Caves Road,
Andheri East,
Mumbai – 400 093

Tel: 91-022-28364187