GAP S3 5 | Elderly Poor

 

In one way or another, we have needs that have not been met. We often turn to material things to fill the void, but there are things we need in our lives that just can’t be bought. Even in the midst of wealth, we unknowingly beg for attention, recognition, peace, and love. Still, we feel empty. In this episode, we are joined by Sister Marie & Sister Agatha from the Little Sisters of the Poor, St. Augustine Home to talk about God’s divine providence and how it drives their vocation and inspires people to help others. They also share insights on how attitude plays into the way we look at others and life in general. Don’t miss this chance to get inspired by the story behind St. Augustine Home and the congregation’s mission to welcome and care for the elderly poor. Who knows, this may just be the calling your heart is waiting for. 

 

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Sister Marie & Sister Agatha Of The Little Sisters Of The Poor, St. Augustine Home On Their Vocation To Care For The Elderly Poor

Ladies and gentlemen, we have two unbelievable guests with us. They’re going to help you bridge the gap. These aren’t famous actors or famous athletes. They may or may not be international bestselling authors. These are people that carry the light. These are two ladies that live what they do instead of promoting what they do. We’ve got them here to promote a little bit about what they do. On the show, we want to introduce you to Sister Marie Cecilia of Jesus and Sister Agatha of the Holy Rosary. Welcome to the show.

Thank you very much. Thank you for having us.

I’m so happy that you are both here. We’re here because Sister Marie was at our church speaking about the Little Sisters of the Poor and what they do. When we think about carrying the light, I said, “These are wonderful ladies that are working on a mission. Why don’t we inform our readers what the Little Sisters of the Poor do? What is your mission? What is the attitude of being a Little Sister?

Our mission as Little Sisters of the Poor is to take care of the elderly poor. We welcome the elderly poor into our home as we would welcome Christ himself. We take care of them as our family until God calls them to Himself.

That’s your mission. Maybe tell us about what brought you to this mission. How were you called to the mission of helping the elderly poor?

I met the Little Sister in Hong Kong. My intention was to go to St. Vincent De Paul to visit the Blessed Sacrament but then it was closed. There was a lady who told me, “There is always a church open run by the religious.” She showed me the way to the Little Sisters of the Poor. I went straight to the chapel because when I went in, nobody was around. I realized it was after lunch when the Sisters are not available, or probably they were in their community. I went into the chapel and spent time there.

On my way out, I met Mother Superior. She asked me, “Are you visiting our residents?” I said, “I’m not visiting. I was in your chapel. I hope you don’t mind.” She said, “Not at all.” She introduced me to what they do and who they are, and then she invited me to come back. I started volunteering then almost every weekend. Whenever I’m free, I went there. I realized the residents are so fragile. I have the strength to share and also the love. I have so much love in me that I can give.

I realized more as a Little Sister that we are called to be diffusers of love. As Saint Teresa said, “Our vocation is love.” We are called to do that. When I realized I got the help, the strength, and the love to share, I prayed about it and told my dad, “I want to be a Little Sister of the Poor.” It took me more than two years to realize that because I prayed more about it if this is what I want to do. I told dad, “I want to be a Little Sister of the Poor.” He asked me, “What are you going to do there?” I said, “I will take care of the elderly poor.” He said, “Don’t go too far. You have your grandparents here.”

I told my mom, “Please do pray for me. I believe I have a vocation.” She said, “Honey, I’m praying for you. I hope you will change your mind. Those nuns get up early. You’ve never been a morning person.” When my grandmother heard about it, she said, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” She worried more than my parents because when we were growing up, she knew as well. At 6:00, she used to go to my parent’s house for early morning coffee. She walks and then has morning coffee with my parents.

At 6:00 and we were not awake, she was banging on our door, “Girls, you’re still in bed. All the graces of God had been spread. There’s nothing left for you.” I love my grandmother but on weekends, I was praying that it will rain so she will not come and we can sleep in. In my first assignment in a visit, there was a bell ringer to make sure the nuns were awake. I said, “Jesus, you must be kidding.” That was already 27 years ago. I’m still struggling in the morning to get up. I said, “Two minutes more.”

What time do you get up in the mornings?

I usually get up at 5:15 to be in the meditation at 6:00 because every morning, we have a community meditation. We are together in the chapel to be there at 6:00 and have our meditation and morning prayer. Sister is always there. I admire our Little Sisters. As a community, we are supporters of one another. For them to be there in our daily program, especially our elderly Sisters, is admirable.

How long have you been a Little Sister, Sister Marie?

Sister Marie & Sister Agatha of Little Sisters of the Poor St. Augustine are guests on the Get Attitude Podcast with @GlennJbill produced by @JasonAaronPro Click To Tweet

Twenty-seven years.

Sister Agatha, tell me how you ended up becoming a Little Sister of the Poor. How long have you been a Little Sister?

It was after high school to get a change. I was born in the middle of the country in a very rural district. We had only about 40 acres of land but we had everything on the land like cattle and everything you could imagine. We were able to look after ourselves with everything there, but I was tired of the country and I longed for city life, fun and everything. I did an exam for the Civil Service and got a job in the GPO in Dublin. I started enjoying life.

I had a passion for cycling. I cycled for thousands of miles around Dublin with my friends. One evening, my friend was out with me. We had an apartment. She wasn’t with me. I was passing by this big gray building. I passed by it every single day but I didn’t see it. There was a big bronze plaque on the wall, “Little Sisters of the Poor.” That rang a bell. They had come to our school. I barely remembered it. When I saw the name, I remembered.

Out of sheer curiosity, I said, “I would go in and see what’s going on.” I got up those steps and went in. The very nun who had come to our school greeted me. She said, “Would you like to see around?” I said, “I would.” She showed me around. She showed me all the holy pictures and told me about the life of Jeanne Jugan and everything. Nothing made any impression at all but when we were coming out, we passed through the infirmary dining room. That was where the old residents had their meals.

There were two old gentlemen setting up the tables for the evening. We didn’t have staff at that time. It was only in the late 1960s that we got staff. The residents helped us with everything. These two lovely old gentlemen were laughing and talking. It thrilled me that all people could be so happy and loving. I was touched very deeply. I thought to myself, “This is where I want to be. There’s such love, joy, and laughter here. I want to be part of this place.”

We got talking. They both asked me to come back again, which I did. When I told my mother how impressed I was, she said, “Get it out of your head. You’re meant to do something better than that. Go to high school and do something good with your life.” In the end, I knew that this is where I wanted to be. She said, “I’ll sign the paper for you but I know you will be back in one week because I know what you’re like. You can’t stand anything dirty, anything with a bad smell, or any of that stuff. You can’t stand it. You will be back in a week. I signed the paper because I know what was going to happen,” but I didn’t come back.

She got very worried about me. There was a cooling of our relationship during my years as a novice and as a young sister. When I went to La Tour for my final vows, I was longing to go on the missions. I wrote home and asked my mom and dad. Dad said, “You can go with my blessing.” Mom said, “You’re gone anyhow. You might as well go.” I did go on the missions after my final vows.

How long have you been a sister?

I’m 70 years in the convent. I’m about 68 years a sister.

Thank you for all your life in prayers. We hope that you pray for the show hosts and their guests. Let me ask you. When you think about this word called attitude, how would you define attitude? Who was your first attitude teacher or coach?

Attitude is a deep disposition you have. It gives you an outlook on things. My first coach was my dad.

Your dad sounded a little more supportive than your mother.

GAP S3 5 | Elderly Poor
Elderly Poor: There’s so much distraction now that sometimes, we don’t even discern what God really wants from us.

 

He was such a positive holy man. We lived in the country. He taught us all about God. We would lie down in the hay fields. He would read Bible stories to us. He would tell us to look up and talk about eternity. When the Angelus bell rang, he would take off his cap and say the Angelus. He was a good man.

What was your father’s name?

Tom.

Did he have a favorite story? Did you have a favorite story from the Bible that he told you that you remember as you were laying on the ground?

The story we all like to hear was Noah taking all the animals into the ark because we had a lot of animals. We said, “Their ancestors must have been in the ark.”

Sister Marie, what about you? How would you define attitude? Who was your first attitude teacher or coach?

The way I see attitude is how we face each day of our life. In a given situation, do we take a negative or passive reaction? All our reactions, our way of seeing things, and the way we live our life is what defines us. Our attitude in some way defines us on a very natural level. Sometimes when people are reacting either positively or negatively, there is always a supernatural level where we have to bypass the natural because there are always factors behind that attitude that brought it up.

Sometimes we have to look beyond, especially when it’s a negative reaction. You have to look beyond that natural reaction because there must be something going on that brought about that. We have to understand where a person is coming from. It defines us but that’s a natural level. You have to bypass that to understand where is this person coming from.

There’s always a reason behind the reason.

You cannot define this person because of their negative or positive reaction. There is deeper to look beyond.

Who influenced your attitude? When you think back, who would you say your first attitude coach or teacher was that gave you this spirit?

It’s my grandparents and my parents because we come from the farm. I come from a big family of eleven. We were brought up praying together and being on the farm after all those plantings. My parents are more dependent on God’s providence, good weather and prayers. That is what brought us to the faith. We are counting so much on God’s divine providence even from a younger age. I still can see my parents. We are praying together for good weather to have good crops because our livelihood depends on farming. We are all going to school. This is a deeper faith and trust in God.

Your grandparents and parents were farmers. Sister Agatha, your grandparents and parents were farmers as well. Do you Sisters believe that God controls the weather?

Attitude is a deep disposition. It gives you a certain outlook on things. Click To Tweet

I do.

I do too. We said the rosary at night, there was a long list of prayers after for good weather, the cattle, and this and that, every single night.

You would always pray. Did you say the rosary every day as a child?

Every night we knelt down. If any visitor came in, my dad would say, “Kneel down. You have to say the rosary.” Everybody said it.

We say the litany. When you’re young, the litany is so long. You can’t wait to finish the prayer because, after the prayer, you’re going to have supper. We learned so much about living with our parents and the way we were growing up with all those devotions and also their gratitude to God. Whether they had good crops and whether it was good or not, they gave thanks to God. That was beautiful.

That’s so cool and foreign. I can’t imagine that you participate in social media and watch all the horridness and politicalness of the news. You probably shelter yourselves from that. Sister Agatha, being around for 80-plus years, you’re not sheltered from anything. When you think about the attitude of America or the world and when you’re praying for the poor people that are living on Earth and all that they deal with, what astounds you? What is so different about how people treat each other or how people treat you? Do you see a difference? Do you think that not much has changed over the course of 40 or 50 years? I would love to get your insights on that.

It’s a different world. Excuse me, but social media has got a lot to do with this. People now all have their cell phones. They don’t talk to one another. Once upon a time, when you went to the doctor’s office, you talk to the person next to you, and then you were all talking. There was communication. You formed relationships with people but now everybody is with their phone. There’s no time for anybody else.

It’s very shut-off. What you’re seeing is people being closed off. I call it the Nose in Phone disease. In my book, I say, “You have Nose in Phone.” They say, “What’s Nose in Phone?” I said, “It’s the Nose in Phone disease.” You beautifully illustrated it. Whether you’re in a restaurant, at a doctor’s office or no matter where you are, no one is talking or reaching out to each other. What about you, Sister Marie? What changes have you seen in the world besides social media or how people treat each other? What concerns you both most about what’s going on in the world?

We have a lot of career women and also a lot of recreational activities or even gadgets that are being offered with all these new technologies that take so much time from people. Sometimes they don’t even have the time to pray. There’s so much distraction. Sometimes they don’t even discern what God wants from them. This is a contributing factor to the lack of vocation to the priesthood and consecrated life because there are so many distractions and careers being offered. You have all these choices of what you want to be. In going to the church collection, we meet a lot of middle-aged women who want to be religious. They have tried everything. They want to have a more meaningful life and be religious but sometimes more in their late 40s and early 50s. We have a cut-off of our vocation like 40.

You can’t come in after a certain age.

They do exemptions.

There are ten years of training.

It takes at least eight years of formation.

GAP S3 5 | Elderly Poor
Elderly Poor: If we’re wrapped up in ourselves and think somebody owes something to us, we cannot make others feel loved. We have to really be poor in spirit.

 

It’s tougher to be a Little Sister of the Poor than a surgeon.

You can be a doctor of the poor.

You’ve got to get some skill. That’s plenty of discernment.

It’s at least 8. You’re allowed 9 or 10.

Let’s explore that a little bit. Is there a formal track over the eight years? Is it two years and then another two? In general terms, what do those eight years look like? What type of services are you looking to do? What do they have you do in those eight years?

In the first two years after you make care vows, you’re usually sent to the homes where you get acquainted very much with our life. We have a young sister with us at the moment in Indianapolis who just made her vows. After two years, they renew their vows for three years. Life goes on at the same tempo but they cannot start during that time if they’re able to do nursing or some professional training, After that, if they’re suitable and if they want to, they can go to the Mother House for their final vows. They spend another year there. They can be allowed 1 or 2 more years if they’re in doubt whether that’s their vocation or not.

I’ve heard the word Mother Superior and Mother House. Mother Superior sounds very intimidating to me.

You should meet her. She’s not at all intimidating.

Maybe we will have her on another episode.

She’s a marvelous speaker.

Is there only one Mother Superior?

In every house, we have a Superior. We have provinces and 9 or 10 houses in each province. We have the Mother Provincial in charge of the province. How many provinces do we have?

We have sixteen.

You cannot define a person because of his negative or positive reaction. You have to look beyond. Click To Tweet

The Mother General is in charge of the whole congregation. She’s lovely. She visited America in 2022.

I would like to meet her.

She’s in France.

I’ll go there.

She’s Spanish.

Talk to me a little bit about Mother Superior. What’s her role? How do you become a Mother Superior? What’s the attitude of a Mother Superior?

The Mother Superior is there to help the Little Sisters grow in the spiritual life and grow in their love for Christ and imitation of Christ. That’s her main role but she also runs the house. She makes sure that the house is very well-regulated and that the Sisters are doing what they’re best at and that they’re not overburdened, but that’s not quite the thing now because, with a shortage of staff, we’re all in on it.

Everybody is overburdened.

She sees the sisters at any time they want to go and talk to her about a difficulty, a problem, or something they want. She’s very motherly in that respect. She has been provincial before and now she goes and helps everywhere. She helps with the wash-up if they’re short of dining aid. She goes and helps with the wash-up. She helps serve the residents. She’s at everything under the sun.

At the St. Augustine Home, how many residents are there? What’s the smallest number of people that you serve in a house and the biggest one?

We have 74 residents. Before COVID, we have about 96. Most of them are depending on Medicaid. We don’t have income or investment. That’s why our Mother Founder, St. Jeanne Jugan, opted not to have a fixed income or fixed resources because she believes we are one big family of God. Through begging, she can integrate the public into the mission. They may not be a part of having direct contact with the residents but through their contribution, they are part of the mission.

It’s to reach out at the same time and offer the channel of grace. Sometimes it is amazing. Our benefactor said, “Sister, thank you very much for helping us to help.” Isn’t it encouraging? It is being a beggar. We were talking about how many residents we have throughout the world. We take care of almost 10,000 elderly poor in all our homes. We are an international congregation. We are on five continents. We have 164 homes throughout the world. All of these homes are depending on God’s divine providence. Isn’t it amazing? It’s like the multiplication of bread every day.

That forms our attitude too to see this providence coming in such a wonderful way every single day.

GAP S3 5 | Elderly Poor
Elderly Poor: We are one big family of God. Through begging, seek and integrate the public into the mission. They may not have direct contact with the residents, but through their contribution, they are part of the mission.

 

The gifts of God are coming in freely.

We couldn’t be but thankful and aware of God’s goodness.

When you said the word beggar when I was listening to you, I was like, “Beggars have such a negative connotation.” Whether you know it or not, it was almost alarming to me. I’m like, “Here she is calling herself a beggar.” I don’t know anybody that proud.

We are begging for donations.

If people do want to donate to us, we want them to go to LittleSistersOfThePoorIndianapolis.org. If you have been moved by what the Sisters have said and if you don’t want to admit that you’re a beggar, the reality exists that maybe you are begging for peace, virtue, spirituality, and calmness in your life. Maybe God’s divine providence will come into your life if you’re good enough to answer the begging of Sister Marie in our show. If you’re reading this, I hope that you will go to LittleSistersOfThePoorIndianapolis.org. If you’re in whatever city, we will take it. The concept and stigma of being a beggar need to be reinvented and the beauty of it needs to be redefined. I love the whole piece that you do.

It is very humbling if you said I am begging and it is enriching because you meet a lot of people. Aside from their financial support, they open their hearts, “Sister, please pray for my family with this problem.” They opened their hearts. That is more humbling than receiving the financial support in kind that they give to us and entrusting their problem and trust our prayers. We take to heart all their intentions. I feel so unworthy to present all this to God. Who am I to be presented with all these problems?

That is the point that is more humbling. I owe them so much because of all these intentions that they confide in us. These intentions make me converse with God. That continual communication with God makes me closer to God because there is always something to present to God, “Lord, here I am. I’m unworthy to present all these intentions but please answer them.” It is humbling. I owed to them with the entrustment of their intentions. They make me communicate more and be closer to God.

What a gift. Sister Agatha, is there anything to add?

We make a vow of poverty. It’s 1 of the 4 vows. We make poverty, chastity, obedience and hospitality but poverty in spirit is our goal. Whatever gets us there is good. Begging can be good.

You try to help people who have poverty in spirit.

We also try to become poor in spirit ourselves. We’re asked to become poor so that we would be able to understand the residents because, at that stage of their lives, they’re not at their best, to put it like that. We have to be poor in spirit to get to their level to constantly understand them, assess their needs, and give them what they want, especially give them love. As Sister said, “We have to be the merciful and loving face of Jesus for them because that’s what they expect.”

They left their homes and their families. Sometimes if the families are working, they’re not able to take care of them. The families are very grateful to us too. We become very close to their families. They have made big sacrifices to come to us. We want them to feel very loved but we cannot do that if we’re wrapped up in ourselves and we think we’re great and if we think somebody owes something to us. We have to be poor in spirit.

I’m going to have to get there.

Whether you had good crops or not, give thanks to God. Click To Tweet

We all have to. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I’m taking care of the residents, especially the dying. They help us to prepare ourselves for that stage of life.

Not to put you on the spot but was there a resident that ever shook you where you said, “That was so beautiful and profound,” and that taught you a lesson? I would love to know the story of just one of them. I’m sure you probably have many. Who made the most profound impact on you as somebody that you cared for as they were dying?

For me, it was a resident in our home in Leeds, England. I was doing a magazine at the time. I was doing a series on death. My father was dying at the time. That was the thing that was most in my mind. I went to this resident in the home in Leeds. He was standing up and walking around the room. He looked very good. He said, “Come in, Sister. I’m dying of cancer.” He looked so happy. I said, “You’re not. You couldn’t be.” He said, “Sit down.” After a few visits, I got to know his story.

His life was a very sad one, but it was a life of prayer and union with God all the time. He was in the Air Force. His job during the war was to drop bombs. He said a lot of prayers while he was doing that. He came back and married his high school sweetheart. They were only married a couple of months when she got a mental breakdown and had to go to an institution, which broke his heart.

He put the stations of the cross in his house. Every day, he made the way of the cross, said the rosary, and visit his wife. It was heartbreaking for him to visit her also because she didn’t even know who he was. His life was sad but he has a prayer life and a love of God. This is all he wanted when he was dying. I was there with him. He said, “I would love you to sing O Sacred Head, Surrounded.” I did. I was with him when he died. I tried to sing that song.

You sang to him.

I did. To me, that was somebody so holy and beautiful that nobody would ever know had I not decided to write on death at that time. He faced death without fear.

Not many do that, but those who do are great. How about you Sister?

It’s hard to single out a person because there are so many residents in different homes where I have been. They are so prayerful. They want to spend their time most in the chapel praying for their families. It is so encouraging to see a lot of residents visiting the blessed sacrament. One that I remember very well is when I was watching the dying. He was in a coma for a long time but the night I was watching, he lifted his head, looked at the window, had a big smile, put down his head and died. It’s amazing.

You were witnessing him.

What did you see that I didn’t see? He was then gone. The dying residents go in different ways. There are some that were so peaceful. There are some that struggled. To be there at their bedside and pray for them is grace.

We take our turns. We watch from 9:00 to 12:00, 12:00 to 3:00, and 3:00 to 6:00. We take our turns for the community.

GAP S3 5 | Elderly Poor
Elderly Poor: We’re asked to become poor to understand the residents because they’re not at their best. We have to be poor in spirit to get to their level, understand them and assess their needs, and give them what they want.

 

Speak to this. You take care of the elderly poor but you also take care of the dying poor. As I remember, you said, “We make sure that no elderly die alone.”

They ask us, “Sister, will you be there when I’m dying?”

They don’t go to our home to die. It’s to live out fully their remaining days. Most of them say, “I wish I came earlier.” They didn’t know us before. They don’t want to come but when they come to know us and live in the home, they wish they came earlier. It is encouraging.

With that said, there are only 10,000 lucky souls having to care for them.

That’s why we pray for more vocation. I’ve been telling these young women in all our church visitations that they have veils waiting in the convent.

Maybe some lovely lady out there reading this would change direction because of this. You never know, just as you walked past that church so many years ago and had no idea and just as you met the Mother Superior by happenstance. Both of you do not know that that’s where you wanted to be. Maybe somebody is walking on a beach looking for something more. Quite possibly this show could do that. How do people get their families to qualify to be 1 of the 10,000? How does that work? Is there an extensive application process?

Usually, the resident comes to the home to see what it’s like. We see them. We have all the details about them.

You have to be poor.

That’s the first quality. If you have money, you wouldn’t qualify.

What if I give all my money to you and then come?

That’s not good either.

I have no shot. Talk to us about the start of the Little Sisters. What was the history? Where did the idea come from? Who was the person that founded it? It’s so we get a feel for how this unbelievable ministry started.

Our Mother Founder St. Jeanne Jugan was born in 1792. She was born in Saint-Servan. Her father was a sailor. When she was four years old, her father left sailing and then didn’t come back. Her father was lost in the sea. How many brothers and sisters did she have?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Click To Tweet

She had three sisters and a brother.

When she was eighteen years old, she was offered a marriage. It was repeated once she was 25 but she told her mom, “There is a work that is not yet known. It’s one that God made for himself.” When she was 47, she worked as a maid. Her employer was a very charitable person. She worked as a kitchen maid. One of her duties is to give the leftovers, sandwiches, or any food to the beggar that will come at the back door. She also went out to visit the hospital with her employer.

One winter evening on her way back home, she met Anne Chauvin, the first old person who came to her. She took her to her apartment and then she gave her bed to her. She slept in the attic. That was the beginning of the congregation. With Anne Chauvin being well taken care of, so many more beggars came, “Can you take me as well?” It’s to the point that she didn’t want them to go out begging. She told them, “Tell me. Where do you go begging? I will beg for you in your name.” That is the start of the begging.

Do you have anything to add?

There were some young women who liked to work. There were Children of Mary or something. They liked to work. They came to help her. They were the first Little Sisters too. One of them was the one who came to America, Mary Augustine. There was a priest, Father Le Pailleur. He saw that the work was going to be something. After Jeanne Jugan was re-elected twice as the Superior, he decided that she wasn’t suitable. One of his girls who had more education than she had should be the Superior.

He squashed the elections because as a priest in those days, they could do what they liked. He squashed the elections and pushed his girl in charge of the congregation. Jeanne would go out begging for the next 10 or 15 years. She became so well-known and loved in France that she received the Montyon, which is like the Nobel Peace Prize. She was known all over France.

When he thought that she was getting too popular and too well-liked, he decided to put her out of the way. He asked her to go to the novitiate. She had to go to the novitiate but that was providential because the novitiate is where girls from all over the world, including from America, come in to be formed as sisters. She walked with them and lived with them, and somehow gave them her spirit. Her attitude and her way of doing stayed with them. It’s their great spirit of sacrifice.

They came over here to some of the places in America. I was in Cincinnati at one time. Our first home was in the coldest part of the city under the German enclave. Their spirit of sacrifice made them stand up to it and get armed well. People began to love them. It’s the same in England. The first of the sister, her father was a unionist. She had no faith. She became a Little Sister. She came to France, saw the Little Sisters, and decided to be a Little Sister. When she went back to England, they had no time for Catholics but when they saw the way they were caring for the residents, they loved them and started helping them.

That’s a great lesson in attitude for those of us at the very top, the displaced or the squashed down. It’s to be such a light to all those around you and raise back up. You have to be sent away yet another time.

That’s poor in spirit. That’s what the poverty of spirit is. She was canonized as a saint.

That’s so beautiful. Thank you for sharing that with us. Here’s a quick question. You’ve been around the world. Let’s start with this. What is the one place you went where you said, “This is a bad place.” What’s the place that you went to and you said, “This is heaven on Earth.” Do you remember walking into a city, a building, or a circumstance that was truly ugly and desperate? I would like to know where that was. I would also like to know where you walked in and you said, “This is heaven on Earth.”

I went to Hong Kong and France. I am here now in the United States. I was in Palatine before in Illinois, and then in Maryland, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Alabama. Wherever you go, you will find that family spirit. I cannot say, “I like it here. I like it there.” That’s because we have a vow of obedience, poverty, chastity and hospitality towards the elderly poor.

I find the vow of obedience very hard because you live with the residents day in and day out and help them, especially if they are sick. When you are called to go from one place to another, that was the difficult part where I can say, “That part is hard.” You will be attached or get closer with the employees that you are working with, the residents, and the community. They pull you out to a place where you’ve never been.

GAP S3 5 | Elderly Poor
Elderly Poor: Let’s not forget that we have a spiritual mother, the blessed mother of Jesus, and she loves us very much. All we have to do is go and ask her to help us know Jesus, love and imitate Him, and bring His love with us wherever we go.

 

You don’t know the community and the residents you’re going to live with, but it’s a matter of forgetting oneself and being open to God’s will, “This is what God wants from me now.” It’s to live even if it is hurting, especially when you know you’re not going to see the residents again. You go there. It’s a matter of opening one’s heart. This is another family. God is extending my family. After a while, you will feel at home because wherever I go, I feel at home. That’s the beautiful part.

You have no real answer, which is fine. She doesn’t like to answer specific questions. She’s very political.

I cannot say that there was an ugly place.

That’s beautiful. I love it. I know that you probably feel the same way but hopefully not because what I’m getting at is I interview a lot of war veterans. We talk about how they stepped off the helicopter and put their foot on the ground in Afghanistan, that feeling, and the visual. That’s what I’m going for. Was there any place where you felt either unsafe, or that shook you and you’re going, “I’ve got some work to do here?” Sister Agatha, is there any place in your history?

When I went to Australia first, I went to Kalgoorlie to work with the oil miners, which was beautiful. I loved them. They were wonderful people that come to find all the gold in Kalgoorlie. I was there for one year. While I was there, outside in our park, there were Aborigines. They were always fighting. They were drunk. They were throwing bottles at one another. The police were picking them up.

I thought, “Isn’t that awful? They are dangerous.” A year later, Mother called me and said, “I have no one to do the Aboriginal center. Would you like to go?” To be honest with you, I cried for a whole week. I was scared because I was so happy there, but year after year, I got to know them and love them as my family. There was a murder among them when I was there for about eight years.

The son of two residents that I cared for was murdered in the city. They should have revenge. It was their law that they would burn down our nursing home or something like that. We pacified them and filled their cars with clothes, food, and this and that but my heart was broken because Charlie and Lorraine were gone. Life was gone from the Aboriginal center. They were characters. We got over it.

They would ring the bell if they wanted a blanket. We had a big shed to give them blankets because they slept out. We had a lot of food in the kitchen. When the bell would ring, I would go to see who it was, and this and that. One evening I went out and there were Charlie and Lorraine. It was the two of them. I thought they just came for the blanket and that they were going to sleep out. He said, “This is a good house. It’s my house.” I said, “You’re going to stay Charlie.” He gave me a big hug.

What a great story. Isn’t that wonderful?

It was the forgiveness and the love. When I went there first, I was learning the language. They would sit around me on a Sunday morning and tap if I said a wrong word. I thought they liked me and everything. One morning, I looked at them and said, “Do you trust me?” They all put their heads down, which means, “We do not.” It was a big change from that day to the evening Charlie and Lorraine came home.

How many years were you there?

Sixteen.

It was with the people that you feared most.

We have to be the merciful, loving face of Jesus for the needy. Click To Tweet

In the end, they were the people I love most.

That’s a story or an antidote for everybody reading this. The people that you may fear the most, the people that you may misunderstand the most, the people you don’t understand, and the people that are coming at you in a manner that is aggressive and scary, quite honestly, with the power of God, the healing spirit and forgiveness, you might end up being close to those people, being loved, and being hugged like Sister Agatha. What a great story.

We used to visit them in the prison. I’m sad that their children have manacles on their feet and hands. They couldn’t live in the city. They had no idea at all how to live in the city. They were coming from the bush. All they could do was play music and get drunk. That’s how they lived. They were hated in the town. I was hated too.

They didn’t like the Catholics.

They didn’t like me because I was trying to keep them off the drinks. I got to know the Baptist Church very well. They were my best friends. It was an Irish Baptist minister from the North of Ireland. He told me that when he was a young man, his father was no good. He was a drunk. He wanted to give his life to God but he couldn’t go to a Catholic priest because priests had no time for Irish people at that time.

One evening, he was coming home and he heard this man preaching on the streets and talking about Jesus and how He loves us. He said, “I want to be like him.” He became a Baptist minister. He translated the whole Bible into Ngaanyatjarra so they could read the Bible. If we had time, I could tell you the miracles and what happened to them through the Bible.

Give us one miracle.

They were all drunks. These elders had a vision of their young men going to Kalgoorlie and bringing some of their people back to God. He called himself a walking minister. He used to go from every place talking. Whenever he called me at 4:00, he said, “Could you ring all the churches, Sister, and get the people coming in here tonight?” I said, “It’s 4:00 in the afternoon. There would be nobody.”

He said, “God will send them.” I rang all the churches. You wouldn’t believe it. That evening at 8:00, the compound or the yard was all full of people. Six young fellows from the bush came with their guitars and their Bibles. They started singing Baptist songs and explaining the Bible. As it is so, some of the drunks came up front, knelt down, and gave themselves over to God.

We have a habitation center in Perth where we sent them. We had a bus ready to send them off the next month, which we did. Catholics always had fear of other churches. I personally didn’t. That night, all the other churches, the Baptist, the Anglicans, and everyone said, “Where’s the coffee Sister? We’re going to have some tea.” They pushed me out of the way and went into the kitchen at the holy place or their home. It was beautiful.

That’s a beautiful miracle. That’s a good story to end on. You’ve been so gracious with your time.

You have been too.

Thank you very much. I hope we raise the awareness of the Little Sisters. I love what you said, “We pray. You pay.” Ladies and gentlemen, if you got some spirit and attitude out of this, we would sure love you to go to LittleSistersOfThePoorIndianapolis.org and show your support for these sisters. If you want to volunteer, you can call in. We need linen washers, food prepares, maintenance people, painters, and gardeners. If you feel like you would like to give and meet Sister Agatha and Sister Marie, then I’m sure they would love to receive you.

Forget yourself and be open to life even when you are hurting. Click To Tweet

We always like to end our show with each one of you if you don’t mind. You may call it a prayer or make it a statement of hope. People are tuning in to us because they want to get from where they are to where they want to be, and from who they are to who they want to become. From your heart, if you could either bestow a prayer on them or give them a thought or a story that helps them understand that wherever they are, they don’t need to stay there. What is the best vehicle that you’ve seen people be able to move their lives and transform their lives, or just a simple wish of goodness for them? We would love each of you to say what you need to say, and then we’re going to close the show.

First, I would like to thank you for having us. I would like to take this opportunity as well to thank all our benefactors who are supporting us. Even for me at this moment, every day I want to overcome myself or something like that. It’s forgetting oneself so that we can give more to others. Sometimes we have to realize that we are loved. There’s so much love in us that we can share. Sometimes being so close to ourselves or not sharing that love and not letting it flow through us makes our hearts heavy. Our lives are gloomier but if we try to give more of ourselves, life is lighter and joyful. You have peace to go to bed when you know you have done your part.

It’s when you’ve loved others. Attitude Booster number ten is to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Thank you, Sister. I appreciate it. Sister Agatha, we will let you finish with your thought of hope or your words of hope.

For all of us, we can’t forget that we have a spiritual mother who loves us very much. The blessed Mother of Jesus loves us very much. All we have to do is to go to her and ask her to help us to know Jesus, love him, imitate him, and bring his love with us wherever we go. She will answer. Guadalupe said to Juan Diego, “Am I not your mother? Am I not taking care of you? What are you worrying about?” We have to find her and the love and the care that she has for each one of us. God bless you.

God bless you both. Spread the love. Love your mother. This was so wonderful. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Glenn Bill with Sister Marie and Sister Agatha wishing you the blessings of Christ. We will see you later.

 

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