Sister of Saint Joseph of Chambery

CSJ Life



That’s the greeting you hear from Sister Lorraine Morin, one of many Sisters and CSJ Associates who volunteer to work two-hour shifts as a receptionist of the Sedgwick Cedars residence at 27 Park Road, West Hartford.

Sister Lorraine happens to live there, too, so it’s an easy commute. In fact, everything about Sister Lorraine is easy: her voice, her smile, and her eagerness to make someone feel at ease.

As receptionist, she buzzes a visitor into the secure residence, first viewing them on the other side of the door from a desk top video screen, then identifying them by talking to them through a phone hooked up to an outside speaker, inquiring of the nature of their visit, then pressing the buzzer to let them in. Once in, she makes sure a visitor signs a guest log.

Sisters living in the residence, as well as Sisters visiting, must all sign in and out. Sister Lorraine gently directs first-timers and reminds return visitors if they forget.

Sr. Lorraine also answers the phone, serving as main switchboard operator. Whether speaking in-person or over the phone, her work is done with a smile, a friendly greeting, a little conversation, if appropriate, and directions, if needed.

“When we open that door or answer that phone, it’s the God within us that meets the God within them,” Sister Lorraine explains.

Whether it’s friends, family, a health care professional, one of the volunteer drivers that takes residents to their appointments, a priest coming to say Mass, or a repair man, all are treated with hospitality, Sister Loraine says.

“We are available to whomever comes through that door or calls on that phone,” she says. “Our charism is our spirit of hospitality. Many of us are retired teachers and nurses. With us, you don’t feel you are on a shelf. We greet everyone with respect and graciousness.”

This kind of work is in line with the Sister of St. Joseph philosophy “That all may be one.”

Treating everyone equally and without distinction by being kind, considerate, welcoming and helpful, Sister Lorraine says.

Sisters who do the work also feel they are being fulfilled, Sister Loraine says, especially when they elicit smiles from visitors. “It’s recognition that they are talking to someone who is glad to see them.” And when the interaction is by phone, she says people can pick up hospitality in your voice. “We speak to them in a way that is not harsh, but with caring and concern in our voice.”

Sister Lorraine, who was a teacher and worked in pastoral ministry before retiring, describes the work as a “ministry of being friendly.”

“We give them a good thought for the day,” she says.