Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Tale of Two Marillacs: A Christmas Story

by Sister Catherine Madigan, D.C.

Once upon a time there were two Marillacs: Marillac High School in Northfield, Ill. (which closed in 1995), and Marillac House in westside Chicago (continuing after 100 years). Daughters of Charity staffed both Marillacs. The high school was an all-girls school, and Marillac House staff served all the people in their neighborhood and beyond.

Christmastime was a time for the united effort of both institutions. Marillac House Sisters prepared a list of families in need, noting the names, ages, sizes and gift wishes of each member of the family. These lists they gave to the Sisters at Marillac High School. Each homeroom class was given a family for whom they would purchase the items on the gift wish list. Needless to say, procuring these gifts made the girls conscious of others and zealous in getting every item on the list and even more.

When the time came to gather gifts for every member of more than 30 families, a huge truck was needed. There was excitement in stocking the truck (made available by a Marillac father) and even more in unloading the truck. This tradition continued for many years, enriching both the givers and receivers. The high school girls made celebrating Christmas a reality for the families, and families knew there were people who were mindful of them. Both the givers and receivers thanked God.

It is now 20 years since Marillac High School closed, but the "girls" of these years are now the women who have banded together to remember not only Marillac House,  but have expanded their vision and mission to include also St. Vincent de Paul Center and St. Joseph's Services, all in Chicago. They learned a lot at Marillac High School and now use their wisdom, life experience and remembrance of Christmas sharing to commit themselves to make a difference in the 21st century.

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