Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The "last of her kind" on the LES

The Times travels down to Stanton Street for a feature today on Lucita Cangemi, a Roman Catholic nun who has been a social worker in New York since 1961.

Sister Lucita is the last working New York member of an order of Catholic religious women, the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, who have served as social workers with Catholic Charities since 1953. Having taken vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, they became experts in prostitution, jails, diapers, rent, drugs and jobs.

This is really not about me, but about the exodus of a community that has worked hard in New York, that loved New York and loved their work, and gave services to the city for 50 years,” Sister Lucita said.

The base of their operations for many of those years was on the Lower East Side. Long before the clever restaurants and dress shops, the streets and tenements were home to poor people. The same human problems run across every class and culture, but on the Lower East Side, those problems lacked the insulation and camouflage that money can buy. Another member of the community who just retired, Sister Marion Agnes, worked to salvage abandoned apartment buildings through sweat equity, and more recently converted an old Catholic school into affordable housing.

No word on what will become of her LES office. Maybe a hipster barber shop?

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