Providence Rest celebrates Lay Baptistine 25th anniversary

Pictured at Providence Rest on Saturday, February 4 celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Lay Baptistines are (l-r) Patricia Nillsen, Sister Madeleine Werner, Celeste Werner, Maureen Waltz, and Sister Loretta Florio.
Photo by Patrick Rocchio

Providence Rest celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Baptistine Lay Association with a mass and luncheon at its facility, which is run with the help of lay volunteers.

The anniversary was marked at Providence Rest, located at 3304 Waterbury Avenue, on Saturday, February 4.

Over 100 Sisters of St. John The Baptist who administer care in the nursing home and their lay helpers celebrated the founding of the group of volunteer lay people who are not consecrated, but share in the religious order’s mission of spreading the “charism” or spirit of love of God of Father Alfonso Maria Fusco, through the Baptistine Lay Associates, said board member Sister Loretta Fusco.

Three of the five board members of the Baptistine Lay Association are Bronx natives, and there are about 50 currently working in support services for Sisters of St. John the Baptist as they help the elderly and young people throughout the Bronx, said board member Sister Madeleine Werner. Werner said she grew up in what is now Our Lady of Solace-St. Dominic’s parish. The associate program also has about 25 deceased members, Werner stated.

“They support us and we support them in our spirituality,” Werner stated. “Some of them are teachers in our schools, employees in the nursing home, or relatives of our sisters.”

Typical ways that the associates in the program, who are usually invited to join after having some sort of relationship with the Sisters of St. John The Bapist, help with paperwork, caring for elderly Sisters, and aiding directly in the ministries like Providence Rest, said board member Celeste Werner, a sibling of Madeleine Werner who also grew up in St. Dominic’s Parish in Van Nest.

“We are involved with a lot of paperwork regarding the associates and the membership, visit the oldest sisters here [at Providence Rest] and in White Plains, answer phones, drive nuns to appointments, paint, and do whatever it is that the sisters need,” Celeste Werner stated.

For lay associate Nancy Mobile, who lives only blocks away from Providence Rest on Dean Avenue, serving the Sisters of St. John The Baptist first occurred to her as an employee of Providence Rest for 46 years, when she volunteered to form a prayer group 33 years ago.

She cited the positive partnership between the nuns and the lay people who share the sisters’ mission of living their daily lives immersed in the spirituality of Father Alfonso Maria Fusco, who is already being considered for sainthood.

“The relationship between the nuns and the lay associates is very important because we spread the Gospel together, share our spirituality, and bring it onto the world.” Mobile said.

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