There are several Daughters of Saint Jeanne Antida who can boast of this longevity! Certainly, they entered the community even during or just after World War II. Numerous novitiates, large communities, still the same religious habit of the Foundress: austere and solemn, but emphasizing the face in a wide snow-white frame, with an apron that shortened the distances imposed by the imposing veil, because it was reminiscent of the apron of mothers.
Our current “centenarian women” then went through an impressive series of changes in society, especially from the 1960s onward; in the Church, beginning with Vatican II; in the very realities where they lived, day after day, their vow of service to the poor. Without becoming more dismayed, keeping their hearts fixed in God Alone, ready to adapt to the rapid and profound changes, remaining faithful to the call they received: with a simpler habit, the Breviary in their hands, less numerous and less structured communities, an increasingly choral involvement in the life of the congregation, the Church, the world.
Finally, the time has come for them to welcome elderly and sick sisters into the community, yet another stage in living out the fullness of giving to God and humanity.
And now they are there, rendered frail by age, often in a wheelchair, immobilized in a bed, in an armchair crocheting “for the missions,” but proud to have generously offered their lives to God, to the institute, to the Church, to the poor.
If we are what we are today, if we still have resources to commit to the cause of the Kingdom, we owe it to the resilience, flexibility, courage, and faith of these centenarian women.