WLAE to air Nov. 20 documentary on Holy Family Sisters
A one-hour documentary featuring the life and legacy of Mother Henriette Delille, “The Sisters of the Holy Family: 175 years of Service and Love,” will premiere Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. on WLAE-TV Channel 32.
“We trace the history of the congregation from its beginnings with Henriette Delille and her two friends, Josephine Charles and Juliette Gaudin, who started the order,” said producer and writer Janet Gross. “We also look at the struggles they faced with poverty, racism and push-back from all areas of the community, including sometimes other religious.
“Basically, the story is how these three ladies worked hard to not only follow the path that they saw as what God had given them but also how they left a legacy so others could build on it by seeing their vision.”
Old photos, interviews
In addition to showing historic photographs from the archives of the Sisters of the Holy Family, the documentary includes interviews with Sister of the Holy Family Greta Jupiter, congregational leader; archdiocesan archivist Dr. Emilie Leumas; Sister of the Holy Family Doris Goudeaux, director of the Delille Office; and professor and author Dr. Virginia Gould, who has researched extensively the life of Mother Henriette.
“I hope people who see the documentary will be encouraged and inspired to know there has been someone from the African-American culture who lived a very virtuous life and has been recognized by Rome as ‘venerable,’” Sister Greta said. “We hope that one day she will be recognized as a saint.”
Venerable Henriette founded the Sisters of the Holy Family in 1842 and dedicated her community to educating the slaves at a time in pre-Civil War New Orleans when doing so was prohibited by law. She also cared for the elderly by opening up her home as a residence.
The community founded St. Mary’s Academy for African-American girls and has taught in schools throughout the country. Her cause for beatification was submitted to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 2005.
Gross said she was most impressed by the congregation’s “quiet fight against racism.”
“There were no signs or placards – they just kept moving through and plowing through racism,” Gross said. “They were not demonstrative at all. It was always, ‘We’ve got our eyes on this goal, and that’s where we’re going.’”
Sister Greta said it is vital for the congregation to promote Mother Henriette’s cause for beatification as widely as possible.
“We want to make her known to as many people as possible because that will help her cause,” Sister Greta said. “It’s important that she becomes a worldwide figure.”
The Sisters of the Holy Family will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving honoring Mother Henriette and the community’s 175 years of service Nov. 19 at 10 a.m. at Motherhouse chapel, 6901 Chef Menteur Highway. Archbishop Gregory Aymond will be the principal celebrant. Former Archbishop Alfred Hughes, Auxiliary Bishop Fernand Cheri and retired Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Carmon will concelebrate.