2nd Graders Become Pen Pals With Retired Nuns, Healing Lonely Hearts

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Education, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

By Katie Vasquez

From picking out decorated paper to making sure each letter is personalized, the second graders at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Academy in Bayside take their time when writing to their pen pals.

The letters are going to some special people. The students are writing to the retired Daughters of Charity Sisters who live in Albany.

For Dalia Calandrella, a second grader at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Academy, she has a lot in common with her pen pal, Sister Mary Irene.

“She loves going to the beach and swimming and reading, and so do I,” Calandrella said.

The assistant principal of the Queens school, Sister Donna Smith, was at the nuns’ nursing home facility during the pandemic and witnessed how difficult and lonely that time was for the mostly senior sisters.

“So it was like that was a lonely, lonely time for them,” Smith said. “And for some of the sisters, it really affected them in their health and their mental capacity because of being alone in their bedrooms. It’s a long time. Yeah. Yeah, it was. It was a rough time.”

As part of Lent, she asked the teachers if they would want to send notes to the nuns.

The second grade class agreed and so far has sent three letters to the 22 religious women.

For the class, it’s even more exciting when they get a response back, giving the kids a lesson in kindness they won’t soon forget.

“I like it because I like to make people happy about stuff,” said Henry Batterton. “And I like to make stories.”

“I’m really excited to hear about what she does. And I’m. And I’m hoping to hear that she’s doing well every day.”

The class hopes to set up a Zoom with the nuns so they can meet and talk to their new pen pals.