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Local Sisters celebrate as pope approves sainthood for Blessed Jeanne Jugan

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Thursday, February 26, 2009


By Carmen M. Hubbard

CATHEDRAL DEANERY — The Little Sisters of the Poor are celebrating the long-awaited news that the order’s foundress, Blessed Jeanne Jugan, has been approved for sainthood. Pope Benedict XVI has announced Oct. 11, 2009, as the canonization date for Blessed Jeanne, who is known for her faith and dedication to helping the elderly poor.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Sister Cecilia Mary Sartorius, who is the superior and administrator of the St. Paul’s Archbishop Leibold Home for the Aged in Clifton. “We had a contest all week for people to guess the right date.”

Local Sisters celebrate as pope approves sainthood
Little Sisters of the Poor Cecilia Mary Sartorius, superior, left, Maria Goretti Miller, right, and residents and volunteers of St. Paul’s Archbishop Leibold Home for the Aged celebrated with applause and cheers when they heard that Pope Benedict XVI approved sainthood for Jeanne Jugan, foundress of the order. (Courtesy photo) Cecilia Mary Sartorius, superior, left, Maria Goretti Miller, right, and residents and volunteers of St. Paul’s Archbishop Leibold Home for the Aged celebrated with applause and cheers when they heard that Pope Benedict XVI approved sainthood for Jeanne Jugan, foundress of the order. (Courtesy photo)

The Sisters, residents and volunteers at the home celebrated the news announced by the Vatican on Feb. 21. Sister Cecilia said a formal celebration will take place in October.

Pope John Paul II beatified Blessed Jeanne in 1982, and Pope Benedict XVI signed a document Dec. 6, 2008, recognizing the miracle advancing her sainthood cause. On Feb. 21 Pope Benedict presided over a consistory that gave final approval for the canonization of 10 people, including Blessed Jeanne, who began her ministry begging for money on the streets of France, taking the elderly and poor into her home in the early decades of the 1800s.

The Little Sisters of the Poor consider Blessed Jeanne’s efforts fundamental to their mission. Since Blessed Jeanne began her mission in 1839, the Little Sisters of the Poor congregation has grown to more than 2,700 members, who care for approximately 13,000 needy elderly people in 202 family-style homes throughout the world, including 32 in North America. The Sisters have served the elderly poor of the Greater Cincinnati Area since 1868. St. Paul’s Archbishop Leibold Home for the Aged currently cares for approximately 100 residents.

The canonization will take place during the Synod of Bishops for Africa, and is expected to be celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, along with that of four others who will be declared saints.

“We knew it was only a matter of time, but everyone was just thrilled when the official announcement was made,” said Sister Constance Veit, publications coordinator in the Little Sisters of the Poor’s Baltimore province. “We’ve anticipated this for so long.”

Rose Dente, 96, is one of the oldest residents of St. Martin’s Home, an assisted-living facility run by the Little Sisters in Baltimore. She was ecstatic when she was told the canonization was set for Oct. 11.

“In my heart, I always knew Jeanne Jugan was a saint,” Dente said. “Now, the whole world will know it.”

“For me personally, it has a special meaning because I entered the Little Sisters of the Poor in 1982, the year Jeanne Jugan was beatified in Rome,” said Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, provincial superior of the Little Sisters’ Baltimore province. “Now, in the year of her canonization, I am celebrating my silver jubilee — 25 years of religious profession. How amazing God is.”

“Here in Cincinnati our elderly residents have been praying for her canonization for more than 20 years. This is a historic moment to celebrate,” said Sister Cecilia Mary. “Jeanne Jugan is very much a part of our daily mission. Her statue in our chapel is a frequent spot for our residents to visit. They come with walkers and wheelchairs to leave their intentions in her care.”

CNS also contributed to this story.

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