Denverite among four women who say yes to God and the elderly poor
By Julie Filby
QUEENS VILLAGE, N.Y.—The archbishop started it ... the applause after the first novice pronounced her vows. The congregation filling the chapel of St. Ann’s Novitiate kept it up after each of the four young women pronounced temporary vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and hospitality as Little Sisters of the Poor.
“Right after I made my vows and the archbishop led the congregation in applause, I felt a deep sense of joy and happiness that I am the spouse of Christ and I have been called to serve the Catholic Church in a profound and intimate way,” Sister Gemma Allison, the first novice, said after the Mass.
In spite of the then-pending announcement of his appointment to the archdiocese of Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., kept his promise to fly to the East Coast to celebrate the Mass of religious profession on July 16. One of the novices professed, Sister Mary Alexandra Moffitt, had been a member of his flock back in Denver. The others had left their homes in Indiana, South Korea, and the kingdom of Tonga to devote their lives to the service of the elderly in need.
The Little Sisters who welcomed him to their community that day, as their sisters in Denver had often done at the Mullen Home for the Aged, expressed their amazement at his ability to focus completely on the occasion at hand, showing a gracious attentiveness to each person he met.
“He obviously ‘gives himself away,’ as he frequently encourages his flock to do,” said Sister Mary Richard, novice mistress, who added that the young Little Sisters and novices were deeply impressed by him.
Newly-professed Sister Moffitt commented, “Archbishop Chaput taught us that in ‘being sent’ we are with Jesus, living Jesus’ relationship with his Father ... and that the youngest members of a religious community have the responsibility of being its servants, but also living examples of its charism, in youthful enthusiasm and dynamic fidelity.”
Sister Moffitt had first encountered the Little Sisters when they came to her parish to collect funds for the needs of the elderly, a custom carried out by Little Sisters in 32 countries ever since their foundress, St. Jeanne Jugan, first took up her begging basket in 1839. Sister Moffitt approached the collecting sister after Mass, soon began volunteering, and then worked as a nursing assistant at the Mullen Home in Denver. Soon afterward, she sought admission to the congregation. She has been assigned to Jeanne Jugan Residence in Newark, Delaware.
Sister Allison was an occupational therapy assistant, when, as a member of the movement Communion and Liberation, she began visiting the Little Sisters’ Home in Evansville, Ind. Later on she spent a year working at the Little Sisters’ mission Home in Gallup, N.M., where a third of the residents are members of the Navajo tribe. After a period of discernment, she too decided to seek entrance. She will serve the elderly in Jeanne Jugan Residence, San Pedro, Calif.
Sister Ana Malia Benedict Pomee was introduced to the Little Sisters through a local religious congregation in her native Tonga. She left her family’s business to spend some time in the Little Sisters’ homes in Western Samoa and Sydney, Australia, which helped to confirm her decision. Her first assignment will take her back to Sydney.
Sister Marie Agnes de la Croix Yu was working for a computer firm when she began volunteering at one of the Little Sisters’ four homes in South Korea. She began her formation in her native land and continued it in the United States. Her mother, who had traveled from South Korea to Queens Village for the ceremony, clapped her hands in joy when she heard Sister Marie Agnes’ assignment: Suwon, South Korea.