Amazing things can happen when you spend one hour a week with someone. Fast friends can become life-long friends. A stranger can become like family.
The “Adopt-A-Sis Program,” as it is affectionately called, creates intergenerational relationships by matching up college students with retired SHCJ Sisters.
It takes place during the school year at Rosemont College in Rosemont, Pennsylvania (U.S.A.) and is part of the Cornelian Service Corps at Rosemont, for which Kerry Madden serves as Coordinator.
“It’s a great way for students to get to know Rosemont better. So many Sisters have experienced the school over the decades, so the students learn a lot about the College and the Sisters,” she said. Rosemont was founded in 1921 by the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.
Every week the students walk to where the Sisters live and meet one-on-one. “Sometimes it’s chatting, sometimes it’s computer help. They bake muffins or learn to knit,” said Sister Jeanne Hatch, Vice President for Mission and Ministry at Rosemont.
“It’s a relationship built from student and Sister interaction. It is what they want it to be,” she said.
On a recent afternoon in September, students gathered in Kerry Madden’s office for the first meeting of the new school year. Most of the students were new to the school and program, but sophomore Kyah Hawkins was excited to see her friend Sister Loretta Tiernan. The two had not talked since the end of the last school year.
“I loved it. We just would sit there and talk,” she said. “I found it interesting when our lives overlapped, which you wouldn’t expect.”
“It’s always a destresser. I can let a lot of things out and she listens to me,” Hawkins said. The Philadelphia native says it reminds her of the relationship she has with her own grandmother.
As for Sister Loretta’s feeling, “I think Kyah’s wonderful. We talked every week for a year. I give her an A plus!”
Down the hall, Sister Joan Clark was just meeting her new friend Ashley Sanders.
“I love to talk and I like people who talk, too,” she said. “My mother always said I could never be next to someone without knowing what makes them tick.”
Ashley was busy trying to find out when the next New York Yankees baseball game was playing on television so she could watch it with Sister Joan, who loves the team.
“She’s the first friend I made here,” the first-year student said. “It reminds me of being at home with my grandmother.”