The Residents of Jeanne Jugan were blessed to have a FOCUS group serving alongside us the week of March 4th to the 8th, 2013. These young Catholic college students came here from all over the country to help out. Eleven participants worked all day doing various jobs within our home. Interacting with our skilled unit and apartment residents was one of the highlights for all. On their last day a farewell party was enjoyed by all. The students put together a splendid and joyous performance that had the audience laughing and singing right along. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to meet such wonderful young adults. They will forever be in our prayers.
One elderly woman, newly admitted to the home, still grieving the loss of 2 of her sons in the past several months confided to her daughter, “these young people just lift me up.”
A dedicated volunteer confided to one of the sisters, “I have never met a group of kids like these; it really gives one hope.”
Front Row left to right: Alyssa Clemen is from South Dakota and goes to South Dakota State University, Ruby Behringer is a FOCUS missionary from Indiana and is a missionary at the University of Vermont, Sergio Munoz is from Mexico and is a student at Metropolitan State College of Denver, Elizabeth Watkins is a FOCUS missionary from Missouri and is a missionary at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, Christine Saah is from Maryland and is a student at Mount St. Mary’s, then Mary Peters (activity director JJR)
Back row left to right: Mary Katherine Abele is from Alabama and is a student at Vanderbilt, Brenna Johnson is from Kansas and goes to school at Fort Hays State University, Tiffany Schumer is from Wisconsin and is a student at Viterbo University, Melissa Buckley is from Vermont and goes to school at the University of Vermont, Jeff Stephens is a FOCUS missionary from Ohio and is a Missionary in Colorado, and Michael Schulte is from Minnesota and is a student at South Dakota State University.
Now an account from the side of the students …
The week that I spent with the Little Sisters of the Poor has changed my life and those with me forever. My name is Ruby Behringer and I am a Catholic missionary with FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students) and the week of March 2nd – 9th, 2013 I lead 9 students and 2 other missionaries on a Spring break mission trip with the Little Sisters of the Poor in the Bronx. As I planned the trip my greatest fear was that the students would not have a true mission trip experience because it was working in a nice facility and working with the elderly. Luckily I was humbled and God changed hearts and lives. I believe the two key factors to this “heaven on earth” experience were prayer and how the sisters showed us how to love. Everyday we would pray a rosary, go to Mass, pray a holy hour, doing Evening Prayer with the sisters, and do Night Prayer.
A few things I came to realize from the elderly were: we need to let others serve us, to be vulnerable, that we need the elderly for our salvation, relationships are more important then being efficient, we need to do small things with great love, the dignity of life until natural death, and coming face to face with my mortality. That week the sisters showed us a love our hearts long for and we started to grow in a self-less, non-judgmental, self-giving, patient, and humble way. We began to love each other with that love. As our relationships with the sisters, staff and residents began to grow so did our love and admiration for them, we saw them as sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and ultimately as Jesus Christ. We began to speak of everyone as family and Jeanne Jugan became home.
One of my proudest moments as a group was putting on a show for the residents and serving them in that way.The fruit of the love we experienced was joy and laughter, which I hadn’t experienced in a long time. As I were preparing to go home there was a lot of sadness and fear, but I realized that I could not stay on the mountaintop forever. So I thanked God for the beautiful memories and began to choose to love the way the sisters taught me to love and see Christ in everyone.
Ruby Behringer, FOCUS missionary.
University of Vermont.
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