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2017-11-17 17:54
By Kim Ae-ran



“Let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth.” (1Jn 3:18) Under this catchphrase, Pope Francis proclaimed the first world day of the poor on Nov 19.

The concerns and the service for the poor have been continued throughout the mission of the whole church beyond denomination. The care for the poor testifies compassion, mercy, fraternity, and solidarity, which was most clearly witnessed by Francis of Assisi in the early 1200’s.

In the message for the first world day of the poor already issued on June 13, Pope Francis underlined the charity for the least and those most in need, saying “We are called to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude.”

Throughout the history of evangelization, the whole church has concentrated on this mission for the poor, and nowadays various types of NGO are also happily working for the goodness of those most in need.

One good example of working for the poor would be Jeanne Jugan (1792-1879). Known as “Sister Mary of the Cross,” Jugan was a French woman who dedicated her life to the neediest of the elderly poor. Thus, the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor was founded to care for the elderly who had no other resources.

Jugan could barely read and write, but through various experiences such as knitting, spinning wool, the kitchen maid, a nurse, an Associate of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, and the Servant of a fellow member of the Eudist Third Order, she taught catechism to the children and cared for the poor and other unfortunates.

In 1837, together with a 72-year-old woman and a 17-year-old orphan, she formed a Catholic community of prayer to devote to teaching the catechism and assisting the poor in a rented small cottage.

In 1839, Jugan encountered Anne Chauvin, an elderly woman who was blind, partially paralyzed, and had no one to care for her. Jugan took care of her from then on, and other old women in need of help joined as well. Thus, the numbers had been increased as times went by.

Jugan went door-to-door requesting food, clothing, and money. However, because of the leadership tension by a priest who insisted his own initiative as Spiritual Director, she had to live a life of obscurity for 27 years. Her role as a Superior of the community was deprived. Nevertheless, she continued to fund-raising for 12 years in the spirit of hospitality, fraternal love, silence, and docility based on total prayer and trust in Providence.

Only in 1890, she was acknowledged as the Foundress, and her identity as the Foundress was wholly recovered in 1902. On October 11, 2009, she was declared a saint by Pope Benedict XVI.

Now about 3,000 members of the Little Sisters of the Poor are spread over 30 countries across the world, and 210 houses are opened for the elders. At present, there are four particular communities for the elders in Korea.

The priority to enter that facility is given to the basic recipients. Together with volunteers, the Little Sisters give the possible physical and spiritual cares for the poorest of the poor. There is a few option to enter there for the parents of nuns or priests.

Thanks to the generous and merciful Providence, my mother entered that house about two years ago. I really appreciate their willing cares and services for those in need of help. They take care of the elders with special attention to the last moment of their lives. Blessed are they who willingly live in poverty and spontaneously work for the poor!


The author is a member of the Daughters of St. Paul (Figlie di San Paolo) living and giving the Good News to the world by means of social communications. Learn more about the congregation at fsp.pauline.or.kr.


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