During the Christmas season, our spirits are lifted by welcome visits from family and friends who drop in to spread the joy of the holidays. Love and laughter are shared with the Residents here at Sacred Heart by family members, community groups bearing gifts and schoolchildren dropping by to carol in the halls. There are lots of fun parties with plenty of Christmas cookies to share.
On New Year’s Eve, a tradition has developed in recent years which brings a very special family who travel from near and far to spend time with the Sisters and celebrate the arrival of a new year with our Residents. Visiting Sacred Heart Residence on New Year’s Eve has become a tradition for the Florian family of Pensacola, Florida with family members traveling to Mobile from as near as Pensacola and as far flung as Texas and Pennsylvania. The gathering got its start when family members were recruited by a former Volunteer Coordinator at Sacred Heart, Mary Florian. Mary began volunteering at the Home as a student at Spring Hill College and was hired as a Volunteer Coordinator after graduation.
As Volunteer Coordinators are known to do, Mary recruited her large and talented family of 10 brothers and sisters to join in her mission of service by providing the entertainment for the New Year’s Eve festivities. The bond between the Florians and the Sisters deepened as Mary answered God’s call to become Sr. Mary of the Passion, lsp. Soon a new generation of Florians wanted to get in on the fun and a tradition was born. Tim Florian, Sr. Mary’s brother, sees the gathering as not only a good opportunity for the family to come together but also a way to maintain a close bond with the Little Sisters. On New Year’s Eve afternoon, with all guest rooms in the Home cleaned and readied, Florians big and small begin arriving in Mobile. Mom, Dad and Grandmother have a short distance to drive over from Pensacola while John and family make the trek from Panama City with 7 kids in tow. Catherine and Chris travel all the way from Pennsylvania and Texas respectively to be a part of the show and even Uncle Fr. John Licari comes from Fort Walton Beach, Florida to lend his musical talents on guitar and piano.
Family members in Mobile also look forward to the arrival of nieces and nephews and cousins and join in the fun to put on a show. After the festivities are over for the evening and the party is winding down, the family gathers together to share an even more important family ritual – adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Midnight Mass in the chapel. As their day of service and fellowship draws to a close, the family turns to their source of love and strength to pray for the blessing of another year together to love, serve and share the joy of family and tradition.