During a Mass of Religious Profession, the Little Sisters of the Poor welcomed four young women to the religious congregation dedicated to serving the elderly poor.
“You are espoused to Christ … Jesus Christ has taken possession of you,” said Bishop Raymond Chappetto, auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn, in his homily at the Little Sisters of the Poor novitiate in Queens Village, New York on July 21.
Bishop Chappetto, who concelebrated with 18 priests, said that the Mass was a joyful first “event” of his episcopate, as he had been ordained a bishop only ten days before.
For the four young women taking their first vows – Sister Andrea Rose Sims, Sister Chiara Therese Tammaro, Sister Mary Florian, and Sister Selina Camille Luamanuvae – it was the culmination of years of discernment and preparation.
Sister Andrea met the Little Sisters on a “Nun Run” in the Chicago area in 2005. She began volunteering with the Sisters and, after graduating from Benedictine University with a degree in nutrition, worked at their home for the elderly in Palatine, IL, until her entrance as a postulant in October, 2009. Her first assignment as a professed Sister will take her to Pawtucket, RI, to care for the elderly.
Sister Chiara first heard of the Little Sisters while exploring religious communities on the archdiocese of Philadelphia website. Later on, her confessor, whose cousin is a Little Sister, spoke to her about the Congregation.
Of her first live-in experience in Queens Village, Sister Chiara said, “Despite my attraction for the contemplative life, I was struck by the Little Sisters’ way of life. They were truly ‘contemplatives in action.’ As the two weeks continued, I became confused about what God was asking of me. Towards the end of my stay, a Sister asked me to help her bathe a dying Resident. While the Sister went to warm up the water, I looked at the Resident. Her back was slightly exposed and I caught a glimpse of her ribcage clearly visible through a very thin layer of skin. Immediately the verse from Psalm 22 popped into my head: “I can count every one of my bones.” I knew that it was Jesus we were bathing. That was the moment I discovered the hidden beauty of the vocation of a Little Sister of the Poor.” Sister Chiara will now have the opportunity to live out that vocation as a Little Sister in Pittsburgh.
Sister Mary, a native of Pensacola, FL, was part of a student group from Springhill College in Alabama which performed a Passion play for the Residents of the Little Sisters’ home in Mobile. After her graduation, she was hired as a volunteer coordinator at the home, which gave her a chance to observe the Little Sisters’ life more closely. One of ten children, she is no stranger to community life, nor to religious vocation, as her uncle and great uncle embraced the priesthood. Sister Mary will serve at the Little Sisters’ home in Kansas City, MO.
Sister Selina came the greatest distance to undertake her religious formation. Born in Samoa, she got to know the Congregation through her aunt, also a Little Sister of the Poor. She worked in a financial firm as she explored the life of various communities in Samoa. Her participation in World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney had a powerful effect on her spiritual life.
Finally, she said, “I felt drawn by the example of Jeanne Jugan, loving and caring in the spirit of humble service” and she entered the community at the home in Apia. She came to Washington, D.C., in 2009 to join the group of postulants there and finished her initial formation in Queens Village. Her first assignment will take her back across the ocean to the Little Sisters’ home for the Aged in Perth, Australia.
The day before the Profession Mass, another four young women entered the novitiate during a private ceremony, joining seven novices already in formation at St. Ann’s Novitiate, which has been in continual operation since 1901.
For information about the Little Sisters of the Poor and discernment opportunities, visit www.littlesistersofthepoor.org.
Photo: Pictured here immediately after the ceremony with Most Rev. Raymond Chappetto, auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn, are (left to right) Sister Andrea Rose, Sister Selina Camille of the Passion, Sister Mary of the Passion and Sister Chiara Therese (photo: l.s.p.).