The Mobile Ladies of Charity is 100 years old this year and invited everyone to join the celebration. A Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated by Most Reverend Thomas J. Rodi, Archbishop, on Sunday, June 12th at 2:30 pm at Corpus Christi Church. A reception in the atrium followed the Mass. Lucy Ann Saunders, LCUSA President, and Mary Cay Murray, LCUSA Regional Vice-President for the southern region, were present.
In the early 1900s, Bishop Edward Allen, fifth Bishop of the Mobile Diocese, was faced with an urgent problem—the need for help with the care of the poor, the sick and the needy in the area. To alleviate the problem he convened a meeting of the Catholic women in the city on April 19, 1911, Holy Thursday. The ladies responded with great excitement to his request and formed a local confraternity of Ladies of Charity, under the rules laid down in 1617 by the founders St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. The ladies moved swiftly and drafted a constitution and by-laws. Officers were elected and committees appointed, and an application was made to the international office in France. It was approved and the charter, in French, is still a possession of the archdiocese.
Using the rules of St. Vincent, the ladies learned by doing. They visited the sick in hospitals and in their homes. They sought out the poor and unfortunate, giving personal consolation and encouragement. To raise money for their work the ladies did a little bit of everything—cakes and candy were sold, as well as homemade linens and quilts. A benefit entertainment called “The Passing Show” was held at the old Lyrics Theater. For over 30 years the Ladies of Charity joined the Mobile Register to have a Christmas Tree Program for the underprivileged children of Mobile. The Shamrock Sales started during the first 5 years. The Grocery Appeal began in 1930.The various fundraisers, together with dues and donations are the Ladies of Charity sources of income, but the true work never stops, nor do the faith, goodness and zeal of the members. The ladies visit the rest homes throughout the year; Santa leaves a small gift and a homemade stocking at Christmas; the sewing committee makes numerous articles each month; the layette committee sews warm blankets and baby clothes; and monthly contributions are made to the National Service Center. The spiritual work includes prayers for members and family at each meeting. An annual Mass for living and deceased members is held along with benediction and recitation of the rosary.
As the Ladies of Charity celebrate the past and look forward to the future, their pledge is to serve, as their founder did, with humility, simplicity and charity. †