On the occasion of this month, we want to recall the experience of Pentecost of Saint Louise de Marillac, when on 4th June 1623, St Louise was moved by a deep spiritual insight. She tells us: “I was advised… that a time would come when I would be in a position to make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and that I would be in a small community where others would do the same”. The “Light of Pentecost” had brought her peace and an indication of her future vocation; God illuminated her heart, and her doubts disappeared.
On that occasion St Louise understood that one day she will be able to live in community at the service of her neighbor, “coming and going”, an incomprehensible expression at a time when the nuns were all cloistered. Enlightened that her new spiritual director would be Vincent de Paul, at this time Louise reluctantly accepted God’s plan. Later, Vincent and Louise became close friends, confidantes, and collaborators in ministry.
The Light of Pentecost is the beginning of a spiritual journey that brought St Louise together with Saint Vincent De Paul to found the Company of the Daughters of Charity in 1633. Several communities of Daughters of Charity were founded in Paris and its surroundings, and progressively spread outside the capital as well. The Sisters put themselves at the service of the poorest, the sick at home or in hospitals, and abandoned children, taking care of them and ensuring their education.
The Light of the Pentecost that guided St Louise in choosing a life at the service of the poorest is still kept alive today by many Daughters of Charity worldwide. By way of example, we present here a project in Paraguay that is part of the 13 Houses Campaign. This is one of the many initiatives proposed by the DC who are confronted with homelessness.
Building 13 Houses: breaking the cycle of poverty in Paraguay
Since 1950, in the city of Sapucai (one of the districts of the department of Paraguarí), the local community of the Daughters of Charity was established in this region to take care of the patients with Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy) in the ‘Leprocomio Santa Isabel’ hospital. From 2005, the Sisters started also taking care of women with mental health disorders within the same health facility.
Besides their health needs, the patients and their families were also suffering because of their housing situation. They were often living in extremely poor and precarious conditions, with one of the Sisters recalling:
“Their houses could collapse at any moment; this dragged them into a poor state of health, affecting their mood and their self-esteem, making them live in anxiety’.
To act on this situation, the Daughters of Charity promptly sought opportunities for collaboration and received help from many donors to build 13 new houses. The project, part of the “13 Houses” Campaign saw many people working together with faith and hope to give these families a new home, where they can live with dignity. One of the beneficiaries said:
“I have no words to express the gratitude I feel; my dream has become reality. I lacked decent housing and was welcomed into a warm home.”
Msgr. Joaquín Robledo, bishop of the Diocese of San Lorenzo, recognized the value of this initiative and said the project represents a great contribution to the Paraguayan society. It has enabled reaching out to people who are already affected by health needs, and defending their right to have a place to call home.
Today, the Sisters care for approximately 105 people, distributed in 4 Pavilions and 15 houses, taking care of the spiritual and corporal needs of the patients.
You can see here some pictures of the houses before and after the delivering of the project:
 “Light,” A.2., in Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac; Correspondence Thoughts, trans, and ed Louise Sullivan, D.C. (Brooklyn. 1991)
 “Light,” SWLM, A.2, I
 The Spirituality of Louise de Marillac: Moved by the Spirit to Charity; Vol 12, 1991, Depaul University
Please let us know if you have an ongoing project that aims to improve the lives of people experiencing homelessness. It could be part of the Campaign. Likewise, if you have a project in mind to help people who are homeless, no matter how big or small your project is, we may help you to achieve it!
Email us for more info at fha.campaign@famvin