The Ladies of Charity Archdiocese of Washington, 175 strong in numbers representing all members of the archdiocese Ladies, gathered for the noon Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 2016. The Ladies together with LCUSA President Mary Ann Dantuono were recognized by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, for their 400th Anniversary. December 8 is very important to the Ladies of Charity as the first association of the Ladies was canonically recognized by Rome in 1617. Being present in the national basilica dedicated to Mary the patroness of the United States under her title of Immaculate Conception enriched this celebration beyond words.
After Mass, the Ladies gathered in the Miraculous Medal Chapel dedicated to St. Catherine Labouré, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. In this Chapel, the Ladies of Charity recommitted themselves to the service of the victims of poverty in its many forms, with the following: “In the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, we desire to be reflection of your loving compassion and of your tender mercy. Mindful of those who suffer many injustices, we will reach out to them in loving service.”
Once the words of consecration were ended, a gentleman approached Lucy Saunders and asked with tears in his eyes that the Ladies pray for his country of Venezuela. Lucy assured him that the Ladies would keep him and his country in prayer. It is now being asked of you, all of you as Ladies of Charity and Vincentian family members, to pray for this special intention so that peace and comfort will find its way to the country of Venezuela, especially to this man who heard us pray that we be mindful of those who suffer many injustices because we will reach out to them in loving service. What better way to respond to this man’s humble request then to bring those words to reality through prayer.
Reflecting on this gathering that culminated with this unexpected request, December 8 encompassed all that is and has been happening in our lives as Ladies of Charity. Celebrating together in what is often referred to as America’s Catholic Church whose surroundings entwine the fabric of the Catholic faith and the mosaic of our great nation was very spiritually rewarding. For the Ladies of Charity Archdiocese of Washington this is just the beginning of a pilgrimage for all of us to focus on prayer and thanksgiving for 400 years of saying “yes” to the call of St. Vincent.