What surprised me most when I became a Resident here at the Little Sisters’ Home almost three years ago was their ministry to volunteers. I wasn’t surprised by the Sisters’ use of volunteers to help in the many tasks that needed attention in this large facility. That made good business sense. It was the ministry to these volunteers and not simply the use of these volunteers that surprised me.
And volunteers are very much in evidence here at Sacred Heart Residence. They come in all sizes, from the very young to the elderly. They come with many talents to share, from lawn and garden care to friendly visits to lonely Residents who have no loved ones in the area. Many of these volunteers are Catholic who understand what a religious nun is and the connection between the vows they take and the service they give to the poor and elderly. Many other volunteers have had no prior experience of the Catholic Church; they have never been around Catholic nuns. Some have never even been in a Catholic church and have no familiarity with the religious devotions that fill the day here at the home. Even the word “rosary” is a mystery to them. No effort is made to indoctrinate these volunteers into the Catholic faith. They simply come up against the day-to-day realities of Catholic life as they experience the many facets of life here at the home.
In our Church, “mission” is usually understood as our efforts to reach out to others and bring them the Good News of God’s love. Wonderfully, here at the Little Sisters’ Home, “mission” is turned inside out. People who live outside are welcome to come into an environment of hospitality and make their gift of love. Evangelization may be said to happen, but it comes gently, even casually. An appreciation of faith and how it fuels a loving care for others rubs off easily as people of good will make their often small, volunteer contribution to life here at the Little Sisters’ Home.