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Archive for February 10, 2016

Sisters of the Poor at the Supreme Court on March 23rd

A Message from the Executive Director
Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dear Friends,

My beloved uncle is in his late 90s. Every time I see him, he tells me he is looking forward to meeting Jesus. He is comforted by what’s ahead in heaven. In heaven, he will not be living in the small apartment his daughter built for him in her garage. He knows there is no pain or yearning. He knows that as soon as he dies, his wife of 72 years will follow. He even knows that there is a golf course where he can play 18 holes, as he did almost every day of his life until he was in his early 80s.

My uncle waits for heaven. Every day he wakes up alive, he is disappointed. Me? I am not too keen on the idea of dying. I know, I am a coward. After all, if I believe what I say I believe, I should feel like my uncle—homesick for heaven.

In one of the many conversations I’ve had with the Little Sisters of the Poor, I told one of them about my uncle. In turn, she told me a story. She was once paged by one of her residents. Thinking that the 90-year-old woman was in distress, she ran to her room. But the elderly woman was just calmly sitting in her rocking chair. She looked at the Sister and said she had a question. “Has God forgotten me? If not, why have I not died?”

The Sister looked at me with significance, so I waited. Then I asked her, with some impatience, what her answer had been. She smiled. “I told her that God still had plans for her, but we did not necessarily know what they were.” Her answer was reassuring, but it was something in the way she said it—so confidently, so warmly—that did it for me. I smiled too.

Over the last few months, we have spent quite a bit of time with the Sisters. We have talked extensively about the Sisters’ beautiful calling to live with and care for people in need. As I talked to one Sister in particular, I realized that, though her work is that of angels, she is as human as I am. I am sure she had other plans before she was called to do what she does. Maybe she hoped to get married and have children. Maybe she really enjoyed makeup and high heels—like the purple ones I wore and she admired in one of our meetings. Maybe she wanted to travel the world, or write a book, or sleep until noon on Saturdays.

Maybe she wanted all of these things and more. Instead, she gave up everything to serve those whom society too often forgets. Hers is not a job that you leave at night. It isn’t even like having children, who will one day leave and start lives of their own. The Little Sisters of the Poor live with the elderly day and night. When one of their residents ends the journey on earth, they joyfully take on another to serve—with vows of poverty, obedience, chastity, and hospitality.

It is sad and unfair that the Sisters’ lives of sacrifice and service are now disrupted by an unnecessary court case. The Supreme Court will have to decide whether the federal government can force the Sisters to provide services—such as the week after pill—that go directly against their conscience when these services can be easily provided through the existing exchanges and other government programs.

Just last week someone actually claimed the Little Sisters of the Poor are not a religious organization but a social service agency. But no American can actually believe that. They get the Sisters.

Just a few days ago the New York Times published this article about the Little Sister who begs for donations in Brooklyn. They got the story right. I hope it inspires you just as my friends, the Little Sisters of the Poor, inspire me every day.

As always, I appreciate your continued support.


Kristina Arriaga
Executive Director