Over the last two weeks we’ve taken a look at some of the stories coming from monasteries in Europe that were affected by World War II. This week we’d like to take a closer look at the operation as a whole, which was a joint effort between Mount de Chantal and an organization still in existence today, Care, Inc.
This statement, written sometime within the last 50 years, perfectly sums up the operation and talks about which sisters were involved.
Our collection of “World War II letters” is the direct result of Mount de Chantal’s community efforts to send marketed CARE, INC. packages to our European Sisters, who are suffering greatly from their lack of food. CARE was recognized by all European countries, and its food packages reached their destination without serious damage. Monasteries in countries that were in “enemy territory” were included. Our collection of their letters of gratitude is touching, even in these late years of the 20th Century.
In the early 1940’s the Mount’s Superior was Sister Francis Joseph Thomson and Procuratrix was Sister Joseph Aloysius Bauer. The latter had a large heart which responded compassionately to our European Sisters’ pleas for help; some were actually facing starvation if help did not come from this country. Consequently Sister Joseph Aloysius Bauer with the assistance of Sister Mary Xavier Slater II and Sister Mary Margaret Flaherty, an Out-Sister, packaged scores of CARE parcels to every needy European community who had written to us – and that included Western and Eastern houses, and that includes America’s enemies as well as its friends.
In the M de C Community’s photograph collection there is a large picture of Sister Mary Margaret loading up our station wagon with all the CARE boxes. During the 1940’s and almost the late 1960’s, none of the M de C Sisters with the exception of the Out-Sisters ever went to town; all necessary business was taken care of by our several Out-Sisters. Vatican II changed all that.
In the midst of this work, one of the sisters kept a detailed list of what a CARE Package contained. Among those items were vitamin capsules (“enough for one a day for two months for each one of the community”), powdered milk and eggs, concentrated soups, tea balls, cocoa, and non-perishable pantry items like pasta and muffin mix. And, lest we forget, coffee!
“Each item was in a one-pound tin can sealed with Scotch tape,” the note reads. “The tin cans were bought at the 10 cent store in cartons of 72 cans. We also sent black material for habits and girdles. Thread, needles, pins, tape, muslin for undergarments, darning cotton, stockings, handkerchiefs, linen for barbettes (wimples), and toilet soap. We hope to send some shoes (old and new), shawls, blankets.”
On the back of the note, each monastery in need is listed by country, naming the communities most desperately in need at that time. Our friends from Polgardi, whom we heard about last week, are noted to have “just made the emergency appeal to our communities through one of the war agencies.”
As for CARE, Inc. you can now find them online as Care.org. With more than 75 years’ experience providing for needy countries, they’ve delivered 100 million CARE Packages to families around the world. In this current time of crisis, CARE, Inc. is now taking up the fight against COVID-19 by providing hand-washing stations and hygiene kits to vulnerable countries like Syria and Yemen. You can join the fight by visiting care.org.
If you wish to donate to our MdeC archive project. Please buy us a cup of coffee.