Not long before Christmas, several emails arrived in our office. They were from an eighth grade class working on a religion project. Each email included the same question: “Why do you do what you do?”

In the pre-Christmas rush I was a little frustrated, asking myself, “How can I answer such a seemingly simple question --- but it’s really very complex --- in a few words that an eighth grader can understand?”

“Why do you do what you do?”

Actually, this is an especially good question to ask as we observe National Vocation Awareness Week, which we observe Jan. 9-13. It would be great for youngsters to ask people in many different vocations why they do what they do --- their parents and grandparents, their teachers, their pediatrician, the public servants in their community, their parish priest, women religious and any other adults they admire.

But these eighth graders were asking us, Little Sisters of the Poor, why we do what we do!

Each Little Sister could offer her own unique answer to this question based on her personal vocation story. But we also share a common call. Very simply, we do what we do --- caring for the elderly poor --- because each of us has been called by God to give our lives to Him in the humble service of the elderly poor.

Each of us has been called to follow in the footsteps of St. Jeanne Jugan, and to live the spirit of the Beatitudes. As a community we believe that God has chosen us, gathered us together and given us a mandate to share with His eldest children his love and compassion as they prepare to meet Him face-to-face. God has asked each of us to be truly a sister to the elderly poor and to defend the dignity of their lives.

As we observe National Vocation Awareness Week, we ask you to join us in praying for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Pray for vocations to our community, so that we may continue to respond to the needs of today’s elderly and those of tomorrow!

If you are a young person, ask the adults you admire why they do what they do and how they discovered God’s plan for their lives. If you are an adult, share your vocation story with the young people in your life, whether you have been called to marriage, single life, the priesthood or religious life.

And let’s pray for one another, that each of us will live the vocation to which God has called us in a way that pleases Him.

Sister Constance Carolyn, LSP, is director of communications for the Little Sisters of the Poor. In the Los Angeles Archdiocese, the community is based at the Jeanne Jugan Residence, 2100 S. Western Ave., San Pedro. To contact the Little Sisters of the Poor locally, call (310) 548-0625, or visit

{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0113/vocweek/{/gallery}