NICE, France (OSV News) — The Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious congregation founded in 1839 by St. Jeanne Jugan, serves the elderly poor in over 30 countries around the world. They serve the neediest with assistance, care and prayer. Now one of their own needs prayers.
On Oct. 31, the Little Sisters in Nice experienced a devastating blow when “a car went out of control and up onto a sidewalk, striking two sisters,” the congregation said in a message sent to supporters.
“One, less seriously injured, was hospitalized and has now returned home. The other, a 28-year-old sister from India, sustained serious head injuries and doctors do not give any hope for her recovery,” Sister Constance Veit, U.S. communications director for the order, said on behalf of the French sisters.
“If this is God’s will, we accept, but we also see this as a call to arms, to pray for her healing, knowing that nothing is impossible to our loving God,” the sisters wrote, asking anyone who wants to join their prayers to do so.
“Would you please join us in praying through the intercession of Father Ernest Lelièvre for the healing of Sister Isabelle Antoinette?” they wrote. “Father Ernest gave his life in the service of our congregation during its first decades of existence. Because of his holiness and missionary zeal we believe he could be a powerful role model and intercessor for the clergy of our day.”
A contemporary of St. Jeanne Jugan, Father Lelièvre (1826-1889) was ordained a priest in France in 1855 and immediately became an auxiliary priest of the Little Sisters. He traveled the world, from Europe to North America, to establish homes run by the sisters, according to a history of the congregation.
“With the archbishop of Rennes, we would like to open the cause for Father Ernest’s canonization; we trust in the power of his intercession and this miracle would give clear evidence of it to others,” Sister Constance wrote on behalf of the sisters, adding: “Thank you for joining us in prayer — know of our prayers for you as well.”
To join in the sisters’ prayer, here is the text:
“Lord Jesus, through the life and ministry of Father Ernest Lelièvre, you have given your church a friend of the poor and a tireless missionary at the service of the elderly, in the religious family founded by St. Jeanne Jugan. You gave him the grace of immense confidence in St. Joseph, spouse of Mary.
“Graciously answer our prayers and grant us the grace we are requesting through his intercession: the restoration to health of Sister Isabelle Antoinette.
“We ask this of you who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.”