On October 26 and 27, we had the joy of celebrating Mother Gertrude Mary of the Sacred Heart’s Golden Jubilee. A Bronx native, it was very special for her to celebrate this special moment back at the place where she first met the Little Sisters. As a young girl, she already worked beside the LSP caring for the elderly. Soon after graduation from high school, she entered the Congregation.
Let’s hear about the jubilee from Mother Gertrude herself:
As some of you already know, a Golden Jubilee celebration is certainly a “once in a lifetime event.” And so it’s impossible to share the “experience” in a way that communicates the real joys and blessings of such a special day. But I’d like to at least share with you the highlights of the day as an expression of my gratitude.
The opening on October 26 brought together Little Sisters from Queen of Peace, the Novitiate, Totowa and Enfield. In the convent community room, the simple display of a photo of the Sacred Heart has its own unique story. It was admired many years ago on the occasion of the opening of the new Visitation Monastery in Tyringham Mass. The picture was hammered out of a bronze colored copper piece and copied from one of the tabernacles in a great French Cathedral. To open the jubilee, we gathered around this image and sang a song on the Sacred Heart written especially for the occasion by a Little Sister.
After the opening and as part of the celebration, we were then privileged to board one of the Fire Boats used to rescue troubled boats and or people who accidentally fall overboard. The fire house was fascinating and the trip even more so. Well versed in the history of Manhattan, Captain Steve explained not only the areas we were passing, but some of the history. He told us that on 9/11 so many people needed to be rescued from Manhattan that an SOS was signaled to every boat available anywhere. He said hundreds of boats headed to the Island and 500,000 people were taken to safety in less than 9 hours! He said it was one of the most incredible rescues in history.
He pointed out the buildings replacing the Twin Towers. We passed Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty up close and were able to go under the Brooklyn Bridge. We passed Governor’s Island which was founded in the 1800’s and now operated by the Coast Guard. The firemen could not have been more solicitous towards each one of us.
A generous benefactor our friend, Ralph Didonato not only gave us a bus but drove us to Manhattan, waited for us and on our return trip took us past Times Square. He even managed to use the time at a traffic light to buy us some NYC hot pretzels which were purchased via the bus window and handed back until everyone had one to enjoy.
On October 27, Little Sisters began arriving from all over the province. We were almost 50 Little Sisters for the Mass and lunch. Fr. Thomas Smith S.J. was principle celebrant and was joined by Fr. Mark Cregan CSC, Msgr. Thomas Petrillo, and Fr Robert Dunn our chaplain. The Little Sisters and Novices joined in the singing which made the music exceptionally beautiful. Sr. Mary Gerard even played her violin! The chapel was filled to overflowing and Fr. Smith’s homily focused on gratitude and thanksgiving for the beautiful gift of our vocation.
We were delighted to have so many Little Sisters and appreciated their help in bringing the Residents to the Fall Festival Carnival. There were Funnel Cakes, Caramel Apples, popcorn, bread pudding, pretzels, games and prizes galore. The sisters bringing the Residents around seemed to enjoy playing the games as much as the Residents did. Photos with a bear about 8 ft tall and 5 ft wide fascinated everyone and there were long lines of those wishing a photo. The Fortune Teller had little sayings of St. Teresa of Avila which she pretended to read from her crystal ball.
Piglets racing to the finish line and the frog jumping over the board caused many a scream and laughter in the crowd. The Carnival was so much fun, it was left in place for the next day’s Halloween party.
It was a beautiful and unforgettable celebration. Again, thank you for your beautiful cards and prayers. It was a day of thanksgiving and gratitude for the grace of being called to be a Little Sister and for all the blessings that we enjoy from our family spirit and community life.
We must stress that this lovely event would not have been possible without our friends and benefactors. Heartfelt thanks are extended to all. Special thanks to our very own NYFD “New York’s Bravest” – especially Captain Steve and his crew for granting us the special tour. Special thanks to our devoted Advisory Committee members who sponsored the Fall Festival enlivening the afternoon for our residents and guests. Special thanks to Kathy Gallagher from the Wicked Wolf who was kind enough to provide us with her famous Wicked Wolf bread pudding and the supper for the first evening for all of the guests. Special thanks to Westside Foods who donated the beef tenderloins for the jubilee dinner that was enjoyed by all. Special thanks to Ralph Didonato of J & R Tours who drove us to and from Manhattan. Special thanks to all who worked so hard behind the scenes to make this possible.
Ad multos annos, Mother Gertrude! We thank you for your devotion. May you remain with us for many more years in the Bronx.