Adopt a nun, raise funds for sisters

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GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) – New Jersey-based nuns have opened a fundraising office in Greenwich and are offering Connecticut residents a chance to adopt them.

The Adopt-a-Sister program has raised $5 million for the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco. The nuns suggest donations of $160 to $500 for a year worth of prayers. Since the program started 15 years ago, they’ve collected from thousands of people around the world.

They’ve advertised in New York, New Jersey, Florida and Louisiana, but this is the first time they’ve actively tried to raise money in Connecticut, which has about 1.3 million Roman Catholics. They opened their Greenwich office Monday and are advertising in local senior newsletters.

Along with funds from donors, the money from the adoption program has been used to build a retirement home for aging nuns. The sisters are a teaching order without the support of a bishop or a diocese, so they must raise money to care for the 45 nuns who live at the home.

People who adopt nuns through the program get an adoption certificate, the sister’s picture, and a promise of daily prayer. Some people correspond by e-mail with the nuns they’ve adopted.

“We need to build on our funds for them,” said Sister Mary Rinaldi, who runs the program out of the order’s headquarters in North Haledon, N.J. “We want to make sure there is some kind of endowment for them.”

Every year since 1995, Linda Christiansen of Greenwich has adopted the nun who was her second grade teacher.

“They give you such courage and grace,” Christiansen said. “They have given so much to me. We have to take care of them.”

“No one has ever asked for a refund,” Rinaldi said.

She said the program has also helped the nuns, some of whom are in their 90s.

“They feel needed and wanted,” Rinaldi said. “Their mission is to take care of those who have the faith that prayer is going to help them.”

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