Twenty-five years ago, Kitty Sarton and a small group of fellow parishioners at St Edward’s Church in Duncan, BC, organized a plant sale to support Jesu Ashram in Darjeeling, India. Back then, Jesu Ashram was a small rural leprosy clinic; today it is a large Jesuit centre with a nursing school and a hospice serving thousands of destitute persons with AIDS, tuberculosis and leprosy every year.
Meanwhile, from the original church basement plant sale that raised $350 for Jesu Ashram in 1989, the annual event in Duncan has grown. It is now held in three different venues and it sells much more than plants—baking, books, crafts, toys, “men’s stuff,” Halloween costumes, and a whole lot more. As of 2014, a total of $75,000 has been sent to Jesu Ashram.
Some of the women of St Edward’s who planned the first sale are still working on it today. It’s a big job. Many work year-round for the September event. But as the planners for 2014 said, “It’s more than just a sale. It’s a community builder!” And as long-time coordinator Ro Debree noted, “We know how much Jesu Ashram counts on St Edward’s Church and the good folks of the Cowichan Valley to keep thousands of patients alive and well.”
What can we at CJI say but a big THANK YOU—and carry on!