The Sisters Poor of Jesus Christ spend much of their day ministering to the homeless of Los Angeles. They bring food and hygiene items and even offer haircuts and beard trimmings to those they encounter on the streets. Much of the sisters’ work focuses on ministering to those living on Skid Row, a neighborhood in Los Angeles that has one of the largest populations of homeless people in the country.
But on the evening of July 15, the sisters brought something else — Someone else — to the streets of Skid Row: Jesus Christ.
Alongside friars and volunteers, the sisters hosted a candlelight Eucharistic procession that brought Jesus to the impoverished Los Angeles neighborhood.
Sister Mariana Disciple of the Divine Master, is a member of the community, originally founded in Brazil. The Brazilian native said that the reason for the Eucharistic procession was the realization that, as important as the food and material objects the sisters provide to the people of Skid Row are, they were not enough; what the community needs even more is Jesus.
For Sister Mariana, these two aspects — Eucharistic devotion and service to the poor — go hand in hand.
“The Eucharist is Jesus being the most poor of all,” she said.
Sister Mariana’s words resonate deeply in the midst of the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, launched by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2022. Now in its second year, the Revival’s efforts are focusing on bringing renewal and devotion to the Eucharist at the parish level, while looking ahead to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in July 2024, the first Eucharistic Congress in the U.S. since 1976.
But while the efforts of the Eucharistic Revival are well underway across the country, some have expressed skepticism and concern that a focus on Eucharistic devotion and piety will detract from serving the poor and the marginalized. One recent article expressed concern that devotion sought for its own sake fails to further the mission of Jesus by serving the poor and the marginalized.
But for Sister Mariana, Eucharistic devotion and service to the poor are not only not opposed to each other, they’re inseparable.
“You see that people who have this first encounter with the Eucharist, they sooner or later come to the poor,” she said. “God says, ‘Okay, I nourished you; now, I will send you on mission,’ so there is no way to separate the two….”
The Sisters Poor of Jesus Christ are a religious community of sisters originally founded in Brazil. They serve the poor in five locations across the United States. In Los Angeles, their ministries include street ministry, prison ministry, young-adult ministry, and ministry with women involved in prostitution.
And their ministry is firmly grounded in Eucharistic devotion. The sisters participate in Mass daily, and the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in their convent for three hours every day. Each sister prays a Holy Hour and then goes out to serve the poor.
“Once you go to the Eucharist, once you have a transformation of self by the presence of God, how can you not have the same feelings that God has for the poor?” Sister Mariana asked….
From the National Catholic Register