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Jeanne Jugan Residence celebrates namesake’s sainthood

Nuns and religious pilgrims from around the borough are off to Rome’s Vatican City for the canonization of St. Jeanne Jugan, founders of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The group, that included many members of her religious order and family members of the elderly from Jeanne Jugan Residence at 2999 Schurz Avenue, left on a trip to celebrate the canonization of the saint on October 11. The group witnessed the canonization of Jugan by Pope Benedict XVI.

After a celebratory Mass, pilgrims donned red hats as they ate lunch before going to the JFK airport, beginning their trip on Wednesday, October 7. For many, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate the life of someone who inspired others to bring comfort into the lives of the elderly.

“For members of the order, it is an assurance that if we follow her way it will lead us to heaven because she has been declared a saint,” said Mother Genevieve Nugent, director of Jeanne Jugan Residence. “It gives residents the message that they should be cared for in the way that Jeanne Jugan taught us – in a special, personal way.”

For those making the trip, they were happy to celebrate the life of Jugan, who has been called a saint for “old age and every age.” Jugan, a French nun, devoted her life to the elderly poor.

She performed her worked in the 19th Century and started the order that now cares for seniors at 30 nursing homes and assisted living center throughout the United States, and operates 202 homes in 37 countries.

“When we heard that she was going to be canonized, we felt that we just had to go and witness it first hand because of all the time we spent volunteering with my mother for the Little Sisters of the Poor,” said pilgrim Patricia LoRusso, the daughter of Jeanne Jugan resident Ann LoRusso. “My grandmother and mother used to take my sister and I to volunteer at the first home on E. 183rd Street, so we are making the trip.”

The Little Sisters of the Poor, which run the Jeanne Jugan Residence in Throggs Neck, have been in the borough since 1903, first at E. 183rd Street, then later near Baychester Avenue. For many, spending time with the sisters inspires a deep appreciation of their work in caring for the elderly.

“For the love of the sisters and the house of Jeanne Jugan, I am headed to Rome. I have never witnessed the canonization of a saint before,” said Throggs Neck resident Luis Pacheco just before leaving for the trip. “I volunteer at Jeanne Jugan Residence and you really can see the spirit of St. Jugan in the sisters, the residents, and all the people who come here.”

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