Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Thursday, April 26, 2018


Young ballerinas from Riley’s School of Dance wait to perform at a Rock-a-Thon fund-raising event on April 27 while participants employ rocking chairs behind them at St. Joseph’s Residence in Enfield. The day raised about $10,000 that will be used to improve the home’s energy efficiency. (Photo by Karen O. Bray)


ENFIELD – The Little Sisters of the Poor rock.

Bagpipers welcomed visitors to St. Joseph’s Residence, which the sisters run, on April 27 for a day of raffles, music, dancing, acting, singing and food-sampling at a fund-raiser tailored to a home for those of a certain age.

A Rock-a-Thon event was held to benefit the sisters’ Energy Efficiency Campaign. Mother Genevieve Regina Nugent said that the snowstorm of October 2011 made it apparent that the facility needed an upgrade to better meet its normal and emergency needs.

Businesses, civic organizations and individual sponsors challenged residents to rock for pledges. Time flew as the rockers, in festively decorated chairs, took in a lighthearted variety show.

Emcee Bill Pitney introduced bagpiping brothers Thomas and Joseph Hurst, from Hurst Farm in Andover, who set the early pace.

Mr. Pitney, a former band leader, was in his element at the microphone. A 15-year volunteer at the home, he said his commitment to help the residents enjoy creative activities is a big part of his faith life.

"There is no other place like this. The Little Sisters make these residents happy every day with their love and attention."

St. Joseph’s is one of 30 facilities operated by the Little Sisters in the United States, and the only one in Connecticut. In 32 countries on five continents, the Little Sisters carry on in the tradition of foundress St. Jeanne Jugan to care for the elderly poor.

There are 10 sisters in the community in Enfield. Daily Mass is celebrated in the chapel; arts and crafts provide creative outlets; and a social calendar full of events such as "spa day" offers residents something new every day.

Sister Patrice Ormerod, who coordinated the Rock-a-Thon, was everywhere all day, offering thanks, hugs and plenty of wishes of "God bless you"  and making sure resident helpers and volunteers were in place to greet and assist those who came to lunch, buy baked goods, entertain, support a rocker or buy a raffle ticket.

The lobby, a thoroughfare between the rocking in St. Joseph Hall and attendant activities, was the scene of several check presentations. Ralph Fiore, representing the local group of Lions International, said, "Every dollar we collected will be put to good use by the sisters here at St. Joseph’s."

Activities coordinator Cathi Carney said, "Every single resident was a part of this. Some wrote music and sang; some rocked for a donation challenge; some made phone calls; others decorated rocking chairs, served as greeters or made crafts for raffle prizes."

Sister Gabrielle Garrett, holding hands while rocking with resident Marie Bartholomew, added, "Some helped by praying a novena offered for the event."

The resident St. Joseph Players performed an anthem written for the event. Irish steppers and jazz dancers, ballerinas from Riley’s School of Dance, vocalists, classical clarinetists, pianists and poets also entertained.

Young people contributed in many ways, including Explorer Scouts who directed traffic. There were student performers from the St. Joseph Residence Youth Hospitality Club, whose members assist residents through regular visits, serving meals and providing various services.

"It’s this kind of community integration and generational interaction that make St. Joseph’s Residence so special for so many," said director of nursing Violeta de los Reyes.

Food also was a popular draw.  Hot dogs, chili and nachos were big sellers. Volunteers kept long tables stocked with donated pies, cakes, cookies and candies. Bread baked on the premises was a sellout.

Mother Genevieve called the event a success. "The generosity of everyone who came out on behalf of St. Joseph’s resulted in nearly $10,000 toward our goal of an energy efficient home. Our entire community is very grateful for this support."