Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Daughter of Charity Province!

On July 31st the Province of St. Louise will be launched at a special Eucharistic liturgy at the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore---America's first cathedral!  What a great place to begin the new province.  The new province is named after our co-founder, St. Louise de Marillac.

We are reconfiguring 4 current provinces into one larger one in order to better fulfill our mission serving those who live in poverty.  The province will consist of over 560 Daughters of Charity.  So, how does this better serve those who are poor?  We are a mobile community.  We often are part of setting up services for the poor and then stepping back once they are established and able to be handed over to the laity.

As a new province we are already set to open a new mission in Greensboro, NC at St. Mary Parish.  We will serve with our Vincentian brother community.  The community is young and vibrant filled with immigrants from many countries and continents.  Several Daughters of Charity have also received new missions within the new province.  One such missioning is a Sister who is a lawyer and nurse who is crossing previous provincial boundaries to work for a Catholic advocacy group in Washington, DC.  Another Sister who has been on mission with me and is a physician's assistant is being sent to Niagara Falls to serve in a clinic connected to a Catholic hospital.

This weekend will be a great celebration!  Some of our Sisters who are on the foreign missions were able to arrange their return visits to coincide with the big celebration.  Our international leadership will be attending from our motherhouse in Paris (Chapel of the Miraculous Medal--where Blessed Mother appeared) and from Rome also.

I look forward to great possibilities we will have in our service through greater collaboration.  I think the process of bringing us together strengthens the bonds of community and the core of who we are, what we are about, and Whose we are.  It has been and will continue to be an opportunity to review our lives in community and use this as a chance to draw closer to Christ together remaining true to our original "charter" set forth by St. Vincent:

"They shall bear in mind that they do not belong to a religious Order because that state is incompatible with the duties of their vocation. Nevertheless, since they are more exposed to the occasions of sin than nuns bound to the cloister, having for monastery only the houses ofthe sick and the place where the Superioress resides; for cell, a hired room; for chapel, the parish church; for cloister, the streets ofthe city; for enclosure, obedience, with an obligation to go nowhere but to the houses of the sick or to places necessary for their service; for grille, the fear of God; for veil holy modesty; making no other profession to ensure their vocation and that, by their constant trust in Divine Providence and the offering they make to God of all that they are and of their service in the person of the poor..."
(CCD X, p.530)
Obviously this photo is a re-enactment of our first Sisters in their habit which was the outfit of the peasant woman of the time--all of us wore a blue dress.
In October 1644, St. Louise went on pilgrimage to Chartres in France.  Here is a portion of her reflection in her letter to St. Vincent de Paul upon returning:

"On Monday, Feast of the Dedication of the Church of Chartres, I offered to God the designs of His Providence on the Company of the Daughters of Charity. I offered the said Company entirely to Him, asking Him to destroy it rather than let it be established contrary to His holy will. I asked for it, through the prayers of the Holy Virgin, Mother and Guardian of the said Company, the purity of which it stands in need. Looking upon the Blessed Virgin as the fulfillment of the promises of God to mankind, and seeing the fulfillment of the vow of the Blessed Virgin in the accomplishment of the mystery of the Incarnation, I asked Him for the grace of fidelity for the Company through the merits of the Blood of the Son of God and of Mary. I prayed also that He might be the strong and loving bond that unites the hearts of all the sisters in imitation of the union of the three Divine Persons."                                              (Spiritual Writings, p.122)

Our superioress generals have continued each year in the footsteps of St. Louise to dedicate the "little company" to Blessed Mother.  I attended a heritage session at the motherhouse and we like many before me, went to Chartres, to the crypt chapel, and dedicated ourselves and the little company to Blessed Mother. 

We have been so blessed since our beginnings in 1633 in Paris and we pray for God's grace as we take another step in Baltimore in 2011!


  1. Very insightful and exciting :) May God continue to bless all of you!

  2. charity..hope that all people can do that. very insightful article. thanks for sharing.
    spiritual insights