The Catholic Church across Yorkshire's historic West Riding since 1878

The Catholic Church across Yorkshire's historic West Riding since 1878

On Your Bikes, Sisters!

In the Diocese of Leeds, the Little Sisters of the Poor are known for their wonderful work at Mount St Joseph’s Care Home. Sister Caroline Mary is Mother Superior and has written about the needs and challenges they face each day (not least the need for donations, all most gratefully received) and she describes a recent event that put the ‘fun’ into ‘fundraising’…!

You can imagine that, as for everyone in Care, the past seven months have been some of the most challenging of our lives. We have been so blessed that over this time all our residents have remained Covid-free, and the hard work of the sisters and staff in abiding by the infection control measures at all times has so far been successful. We are not complacent and we are aware particularly with the rise of infections in the Leeds area, that the risk is very high. We count on the Lord’s protection to continue to bless our own efforts to keep the residents here at Mount St Joseph’s safe and well.

As we rely on Divine Providence and charitable fundraising is such an important part of meeting our day to day needs, it is a struggle to find innovative Covid-secure means of fundraising. Mark, our Chef Manager, who has previously done a sponsored cycle for the Home, and Sr Christina our Collecting Sister, decided that a sponsored cycle could be a means of raising money towards the £250,000 we need to complete works necessary to meet enhanced Fire Safety in the nine lounge areas of the home.

Sr Christina worked hard to round up staff and residents who were willing to participate and to get sponsors for the event. Then Leeds went into local restrictions and the Rule of Six came along. However, undaunted, all the participants said they would complete the cycle from Rodley to Saltaire and back along the canal path, separately or in groups of six or less, or would cycle 14 miles elsewhere.

The date of 3 of October was planned for a small group of four from Mount St Joseph’s, which included Sr Christina, Ann (Reception), Mark (Chef Manager) and me. The weather forecast was for heavy rain all day, so it was transferred to the following day. So after Mass, and strengthened by the Eucharist, Fr Kevin our Chaplain at the end of Mass wishing us well and telling us ‘On your bike!’ and the blessing of three of our retired clergy, Fr Don Clements, Fr Billy Steele and Fr Jim Leavy, who waved us off in the minibus, we set off to Rodley.

Take into consideration that three of us had not been on a bike in about thirty years – so the thought of a 14 mile cycle seemed huge! But as St Jeanne Jugan, our foundress said, ‘If God is with us, it will be accomplished.’  So the intrepid four set off.  Mark, an experienced cyclist, ever attentive to ensure we were all safe, and that no one was left behind, kept whizzing up to the front runner (Sr Christina) and then back to Ann and me further back.

The day was lovely, we sighted two rainbows, and took these as God’s blessings on our endeavours. The canal path, had lots of puddles from the rains of the day before, but we were blessed that the skies cleared after a shower when we first arrived, and we were able to complete the cycle, muddy, but dry! We managed a total of 15.69 miles almost two more than we thought the journey was!! – and enjoyed a picnic at the end.

We are thankful to all our benefactors, who help us care for the elderly here in Leeds as we have done for the past 160 years, in the spirit of St Jeanne Jugan, who told the young sisters, ‘Make our old people happy.’

Thank you and God Bless.

Sr Caroline Mary, Mother Superior, Little Sisters of the Poor