Somerville’s Little Sisters of the Poor Hit The High Seas


By William Tauro


This past Monday, Mother Superior Maureen and sisters of The Little Sisters of the Poor were invited to the Winter Hill Yacht Club in Somerville aboard The Somerville News Boat “MARISA” for a carefree day of fun and relaxation as well as a guided tour of Boston Harbor.

Somerville’s Mayor Emeritus Eugene Brune was also aboard the vessel and designated as the official tour guide for the day while newspaper Publisher Billy Tauro was at the helm piloting the boat.

The boat departed from the Winter Hill Yacht Club in Somerville’s Assembly Square and made its way up the Mystic River then through the Boston Harbor with a pass-by of the USS Constitution before making its way around the Boston Harbor Islands.

The cruise was provided to the sisters by The Somerville News Weekly and the Winter Hill Yacht Club to show appreciation and thank the Little Sisters of the Poor for all their dedicated work that they do year round to make Somerville a better place for all and especially for the tender loving care and services that the Little Sisters provide to the dozens of seniors that reside at the Jeanne Jugan Residence.

The Little Sisters of the Poor History—From Humble Beginnings

The first requests for a home of the Little Sisters in Boston were submitted to the motherhouse in France in 1858, but the Congregation was not quite ready to set out for the New World. Ten years later, Father Earnest Lelievre, a great friend of the Congregation who worked tirelessly for its expansion, finally came to the United States. He believed Boston would be an excellent location for a home of the Little Sisters, and so with the permission of Archbishop John Joseph Williams, plans were made for a home in Roxbury. Founded in 1870, the Roxbury home would be one of the original thirteen establishments of the Little Sisters in America. How fitting—since Boston had played such a prominent role in the history of the original thirteen colonies!

The first Little Sisters arrived from Brooklyn, New York at 5 p.m. on April 19, 1870 and received a warm welcome from the Sisters of Notre Dame. The next day, a Wednesday, the little group took possession of their temporary home, and placed it under the protection of St. Joseph. The Little Sisters were happy to see many visitors arriving at their door, as the children of the school operated by the Sisters of Notre Dame carried the news of their arrival home to their parents. That first evening when supper time arrived, they had no furniture and ate while seated on the floor, dining on a meal provided by the Sisters of Notre Dame.

One month later, Roxbury was home to eight Little Sisters of the Poor caring for fourteen elderly women. These were only temporary quarters and on September 3, 1872, the Little Sisters moved into their new home, located at Dudley Street and Woodward Avenue in Roxbury.

There were many poor in the city of Boston. In 1883 a second home was begun in Charlestown. These two homes still were unable to keep up with the growing demand and so in 1889, Holy Rosary Home in Somerville was opened. Holy Rosary Home served the needy elderly of the greater Boston area for nearly 90 years.

By the 1970’s, the homes in Somerville and Roxbury no longer met the Life Safety Code and needed to be replaced (the Charlestown home had been phased out in 1896). The Little Sisters decided to combine the two homes in a new building at the Somerville location. The new home went up behind the original one on Highland Avenue and Jeanne Jugan Residence opened its doors in 1978.

More than 140 years after the first Little Sisters arrived in Boston, the work of hospitality rooted in such humble beginnings continues at the Jeanne Jugan Residence and Pavilion. Although today we have only one home in the area, we continue to reach out to serve low-income seniors throughout greater Boston with the same love and devotion of those first Little Sisters who arrived here on that April day so day long ago. We are proud to be a part of Boston’s great history!

The Jeanne Jugan Pavilion and Jeanne Jugan Residence offer a continuum of care to the needy elderly of the greater Boston area, assuring them security, dignity and respect as they age. With our family spirit and holistic approach to care, we assure that each Resident’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are met at every stage of their journey with us.

The Jeanne Jugan Pavilion offers low-income seniors the possibility of maintaining their independence and the security of knowing someone is always near at hand. The Pavilion consists of 27 one-bedroom apartment units. It is connected to Jeanne Jugan Residence by an enclosed walk way.

Apartment amenities include: large bedroom, living room/dining area, full kitchenette, walk-in storage and complete bath with walk-in shower

Residents also have the option to take part in a number of other services available at Jeanne Jugan Residence:daily Mass and rosary in our chapel, a wide range of social, physical and creative activities, community outings and opportunities for volunteer service.

As seniors continue to age, their needs inevitably change. To meet these increasing needs, Jeanne Jugan Residence offers both assisted living and skilled nursing care.

Services include: single room accommodations with private bathrooms, assistance with activities of daily living, according to individualized care plans, a full range of medical, social and therapeutic services, varied social, recreational and creative activities, a full pastoral program, including daily Mass and rosary, nutritious meals, snacks, and compassionate end-of-life care in fidelity to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on the dignity of human life

If you’re looking for a rewarding volunteer experience, contact the Little Sisters now!

At Jeanne Jugan Residence they count on the generosity of many local people who share their time, treasure and talent on behalf of the elderly. There is much you can do to enrich the lives of their Residents. And even if you’re not working directly with the Residents, your help will directly benefit them. Every little bit counts.

By volunteering regularly or for special events, you will experience happiness yourself as you offer the Residents companionship and joy!

Current Volunteer Needs:

• Visiting with Residents

• Assisting with activities, crafts, chair exercise programs

• Assisting with serving Residents’ meals

• “Hidden Services” such as folding clothes, ironing, vegetable preparation, etc.

Jeanne Jugan is an association of Catholic lay men and women whose mission is to imbue the world with the spirit of St. Jeanne Jugan and her mission of hospitality in our daily milieu. They work in close collaboration with the Little Sisters, for they wish to be the extension of their hands and their hearts!

New members of the Association undergo a year of spiritual preparation and make their promise on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, together with the other members of the Association who renew their annual promise the same day.

The Association members meet several times throughout the year in order to continue deepening their understanding of the spirit of St. Jeanne Jugan.

Some of the AJJ activities at Jeanne Jugan Residence include:

• Driving Residents for outings and appointments

• Helping our maintenance department with daily tasks such as carpentry, painting and maintenance of our grounds

• Assisting with the meal service of the Residents

• Preparing homemade treats for the Residents

• Organizing weekly bingo and card games

• Helping the Activity Department with celebrations for feast days, holidays and other special events

• Assisting with annual fundraising activities such as the Annual Fundraising Dinner, Christmas Bazaar and rummage sales

• Animating spiritual meetings and encounters with the Residents during Advent and Lent

• Serving as lectors and Eucharistic ministers at Mass

• Spending quality time with Residents through friendly visits

If you are interested in joining the Association Jeanne Jugan, contact Sr. Rosemary at 617-776-4420 or email Mother Maureen at:

To learn more about the Jeanne Jugan Residence and the Little Sisters of the Poor please visit their website:

The Jeanne Jugan Residence is located at 186 Highland Avenue in Somerville, MA 02143-1507

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