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Bishop Checchio lauds 'joy in service' of Little Servant Sisters

January 11, 2018

WOODBRIDGE — A quarter-century of faith-filled care by a staff of compassionate religious was gratefully acknowledged Nov. 9 at an anniversary Mass in the St. Joseph Senior Home.

Bishop James F. Checchio both presided and preached at the liturgy, while Bishop Emeritus Paul G. Bootkoski and priests of the diocese concelebrated.

Bishop Checchio acknowledged the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and their work at the senior day care and nursing home facility.

The center’s chapel altar was framed with bouquets of flowers arranged to reflect the 25 years the edifice had served as home for some of society’s most vulnerable. The religious, staff, friends and patients who filled the pews and lined the aisles to pay tribute to the Little Servant Sisters heard Bishop Checchio thank them for making the center “a home which is run highlighting respect for human life and dignity with witness to the compassionate Christ.”

The bishop continued, “Since your community’s arrival in the United States, you have been committed to working with the underprivileged, the sick, the elderly and children, too…. you enhance what is offered in such homes for the elderly by adding your charism based on Christ’s example, and hence increase the dignity of this work.”

Groundbreaking for the St. Joseph Senior Home was held in 1981. The facility was blessed by then-Bishop, now Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., March 20, 1982. In 1992, the adjacent nursing home was added. Today, the Senior Home has a 51-bed nursing center and a 60-bed assisted living facility with private and semi-private rooms, and is under the supervision of registered nurses and other medical professionals.

The Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception were founded by Blessed Edmund Bojanowski in Poland in 1850; they established their American provincialate and novitiate in Cherry Hill in 1926 and have been working ever since with children, the underprivileged, the sick and the elderly. In addition to a retreat center in Cherry Hill, and the Woodbridge St. Joseph Senior Home, they work in parishes as religious educators, pastoral workers and teachers in parochial schools in the Dioceses of Camden and Metuchen, the Archdiocese of Newark and Philadelphia.

In addition to the St. Joseph Senior Home’s 25th anniversary, the assembly celebrated the silver jubilee of Sister Elizabeth Lopatka, a registered nurse who serves as center administrator. Sister Elizabeth, who also teaches religious instruction to first-graders at St. John Paul II Parish, Perth Amboy, beamed as she accepted a bouquet of flowers, but hastened to note, “It is important to honor the staff too: they do the work here!”

Cries of “Sto Lat!” (100 years) rang out at the luncheon reception attended by workers and residents alike. Bishop Checchio observed, “What a nice thing to see: such joy in service. It is a testimony to our diocese.”

By Christina Leslie, Correspondent at The Catholic Spirit

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