Letter from Sr. Denise Roche, GNSH President

Written on: June 24, 2022

Dear Sisters, Associates, Staff, Friends, All,

As we celebrate our special feast, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, we are mindful of the place this devotion to the heart of Jesus had in the life of Saint Marguerite. Marguerite recognized the compassion and overwhelming love Jesus had for all of us, especially for the poor, the struggling, the hungry and the marginalized.

Often, during recent years, we have lamented the loss of active ministry in our lives. We seek new opportunities to serve others as a sign of our love for Jesus. We miss being a part of our congregational witness to God’s compassionate love. We have struggle to find ways to continue proclaiming our dedication to the heart of Jesus and to all our sisters and brothers in the world. Often when we make a personal contribution, we wonder if our small gift will make any difference in the immense suffering in the world.

Because we completed the celebration of our 100th anniversary recently, I was reminded of the remarkable new entity created by the Sisters in the New York City area at the time of our 75th anniversary. Little did they realize the length or breadth of the ministry they set into motion! Many of the sisters involved in the project at that time have stories about bringing their plans to life, finding paths around obstacles, attracting co-supporters, discovering ingenious methods to provide for the poor. The result was Marguerite d’Youville’s food pantry, a ministry which continues until today! Among those who participated in the planning and evolution of the pantry were: Sisters Helen Dorothy, Mary Mulligan, Mary Patrick, Alma Regina, Christina Mary, Marie Cecile, Dottie Dunn, James Maureen and Anne Marie Beirne. Can’t you hear the explosion of ideas and enthusiasm at some of their planning meetings!

Twenty-five years later, we are pleased to say that the seed those sisters planted is still growing and spreading. It has changed in the large number of recipients it now serves and the many volunteers who keep it running. Now, Sr. Anne Marie Beirne is the only Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart actively engaged and the needs of the people it serves have expanded. But there it is! A service offered in thanksgiving to God for the love we have received and a testimony to the legacy of Marguerite’s overwhelming desire to continue Jesus’ mission to care for those in need.

More than three hundred families, including many young mothers with babies, come monthly to the pantry to receive needed food and some personal items. Along with staple food, the pantry works to provide fresh produce and meat, as well as baby food. All of these items are very costly and are not usually covered by grants.

This year, in celebration of the love, compassion and forgiveness which we have experienced from Jesus, can we join one another in contributing funds to help sustain the work of the pantry? That way, we can participate in the legacy of love, begun by our Grey Nun sisters in thanksgiving to Jesus. I invite us, during this last part of 2022, to contribute to the pantry from our individual means throughout these months. Perhaps we can give a small amount of money planned for vacation or refrain from purchasing an item from our shopping list. Some might find that you receive an unexpected birthday gift or need fewer trips to a bakery.

By uniting and working together, we will have a greater impact on the hunger of our sisters and brothers in need and will signal to others that Marguerite’s legacy is still alive.

We are resourceful, generous people – all of us! I challenge each of us to find creative ways to continue the effort begun by our sisters twenty-five years ago. It will be our way of letting the poor know that they are not alone and that they are loved.

Please join in this Mission of Marguerite’ and let the world know, or at least our small part of it, that God lives now and is a God of incomprehensible love who never abandons us.

United, we can make a difference! Together, we can build on our legacy at this time – our 101st year – and continue the remarkable work, which was begun by our Grey Nun sisters twenty-five years ago!

I pray that Jesus continues to lead us to a closer union with his loving presence in us and in the world!

Blessing and love,



Sister Denise Roche, GNSH, President

Please send any gifts to the attention of the Finance Office. No record of individual gifts will be kept.

Mailing address: Marguerite’s Food Pantry c/o GNSH Finance Office, 14500 Bustleton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116-1188.

One thought on “Letter from Sr. Denise Roche, GNSH President

  1. Dorothy Lehman says:

    Sister Helen Dorothy, Sister Alma, and Sister James Maureen—names to conjure with. Wonderful women who graced Our Lady of Fatima parish and school. They brought so much joy and compassion to everyone who knew them.

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