October 21, 2005

New mother superior appointed to
St. Augustine Home for the Aged

By Mary Ann Wyand

Little Sister of the Poor Judith Mary of St. Paul Meredith is the new mother superior of the St. Augustine Home for the Aged in Indianapolis. Her appointment was effective on Sept. 28.

She succeeds Sister Geraldine Harvie, who served at the Indianapolis home for the elderly poor for nearly five years and was recently appointed mother superior of the Little Sisters’ home in Baltimore. Her last day in Indianapolis was Sept. 25.

A native of Louisville, Sister Judith most recently served as the mother superior at the Little Sisters’ home near Toledo, Ohio.

During nearly six years of ministry there, Sister Judith said, she “had the unique experience of building a new home.”

Prior to that assignment, Sister Judith was administrator of the Little Sisters’ homes in Pittsburgh and Mobile, Ala.

A licensed practical nurse, Sister Judith also served at the sisters’ homes in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Evansville, Ind.

She attended Mercy High School in Detroit and entered the order after graduation. She completed her training as a licensed practical nurse at the former St. Francis Hospital in Cincinnati and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Management at St. Francis College in New York.

“I had been helping the Little Sisters since I was in the seventh-grade,” she said of her childhood in Louisville. “A whole group of us from our grade school decided that we were going to go and help the sisters. … I felt so good about helping the residents.”

She said getting to know the residents and seeing the dedication of the Little Sisters attracted her to religious life and the international order dedicated to serving the elderly poor.

After completing her training as a licensed practical nurse, she began her studies as a novice at St. Ann’s Novitiate in Queens, Long Island, N.Y., then made her first vows at age 21 and her final vows at age 26.

“There was a real commitment in these women, a great desire to serve God through serving the residents as well as they could and showing [them] a lot of love,” Sister Judith said. “I really felt that this was a beautiful mission. … I loved the old people. I always wanted to be a nurse. Even before I thought about being a sister, I was attracted to nursing. … I’ve been in administration now for the past 19 years, but nursing is my first love.”

Sister Judith said she also was inspired by the life and ministry of Blessed Jeanne Jugan, who founded the order in 1842 in France.

She joins eight Little Sisters currently in ministry at the home in Indianapolis and two new sisters who will arrive later this month to help care for 93 residents.

Sister Claire Patricia Reilly was stationed in New Orleans and assisted with the evacuation before Hurricane Katrina in August, and Sister Mary Timothy Harrison served at the home in Mobile.

The Little Sisters have a great devotion to the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, Sister Judith said. “The congregation is under the protection of St. Joseph and our Blessed Mother in the title of the Immaculate Conception. Our rule … says she will be our mother, our model, our joy and our protection. … St. Joseph still is … the special patron for our material needs.”

Sister Judith said she enjoys “the wonderful spirit here in this home and in all the Little Sisters’ homes,” and is looking forward to meeting friends of the St. Augustine Home.

“The family of the Little Sisters of the Poor is much wider and embraces much more than the sisters and the residents,” she said. “We have wonderful volunteers. We have wonderful benefactors. So many people are donating their time and talents.”

The Association of Jeanne Jugan, St. Augustine Guild and volunteer gardeners have been especially helpful, Sister Judith said. “It’s beautiful to see the way these people are all our extended hands. Our numbers are fewer and our sisters are getting older, and we could not begin to accomplish the beautiful mission that we have and all that we do for our residents without all these lay collaborators… who save us from having to have extra employees. … We could not do it without them. We would have to close our doors if we did not have all these people to help us. There’s a beautiful spirit here in Indianapolis. It really is remarkable.” †

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