November 16, 2018

St. Augustine Home: Caring for ‘those society turns away’

In this photo from Aug. 30, 2017, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson is welcomed by several Little Sisters of the Poor to St. Augustine Home for the Aged, which their order operates in Indianapolis. (File photo by Natalie Hoefer)

In this photo from Aug. 30, 2017, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson is welcomed by several Little Sisters of the Poor to St. Augustine Home for the Aged, which their order operates in Indianapolis. (File photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

One year before St. Theodora Guérin arrived from France and established her order in Indiana, another French woman founded an order of her own in France. Her name is St. Jeanne Jugan, and the order she founded is the Little Sisters of the Poor. Their primary charism is to care for the poorest of the elderly.

The Little Sisters now have homes for the aged in more than 30 countries. Since 1873, they have cared for the elderly poor at the St. Augustine Home for the Aged in Indianapolis. In 1967, they relocated their home from East Vermont Street to its current location on the northwest side of the city.

When Archbishop Charles C. Thompson celebrated Mass at the St. Augustine Home on Aug. 30, 2017, the feast of St. Jeanne Jugan, he noted how the Little Sisters care for “those who society so often turns away and acts indifferent toward. … I have a great, high regard for them.”

The Little Sisters welcome low‑income elders age 65 and older, regardless of race or religion. They offer independent apartments, assisted living and a skilled nursing unit. Doctor, dental and physical therapy services are available on-site, and the facility accepts those on Medicare and Medicaid.

A look at a recent daily activity calendar shows a schedule packed with activities every day, including music, singing, talks, games, picnics, ice cream socials, movies, crafts and more. Outside, residents can enjoy a shrine, a gazebo and spend time caring for plants in the home’s large garden.

With residence halls branching from either side of a large chapel, Christ is literally at the center of the home. Every day, residents have the opportunity to pray the rosary then worship at Mass celebrated by resident priests.

The St. Augustine Home website notes the frequent offering of the anointing of the sick. And peppered throughout the activity calendar are numerous opportunities for confession, adoration, evening prayer and Benediction.

With their special charism for helping the elderly, the Little Sisters’ homes share unique aspects that set them apart even from other Catholic elder care facilities.

For instance, the sisters live in the home, making them present and available to meet the residents’ needs around the clock seven days a week.

With such a presence, the sisters are able to fulfill their second unique aspect: to maintain a constant presence at the bedside of dying residents.

Also unique to the order is their tradition of begging. To this day, Little Sisters can be seen visiting markets and businesses in Indianapolis to provide for the needs of their residents, just as St. Jeanne Jugan did in France 179 years ago.

At the Mass he celebrated at the St. Augustine Home on the feast of St. Jeanne Jugan, Archbishop Thompson reflected on the value of the Little Sisters of the Poor in the archdiocese and the state of Indiana.

“I think what the Little Sisters do here is keep that dignity [of the poor elderly] before us … keeping Christ in the center and focusing on others.”
 

(St. Augustine Home for the Aged is located at 2345 W. 86th St., in Indianapolis. For more information, go to www.littlesistersofthepoorindianapolis.org or call 317-415-5767.)

 

Related story: Four residences in Archdiocese of Indianapolis base their care of seniors on Catholic values

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