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Edition No. 212—July 21, 2022 
Chestnut Hill College
Norwood-Fontbonne Academy
Montessori Education Partnership
On June 30, 2022, Ryan Killeen, President, Norwood Fontbonne Academy entered into an agreement on behalf of Norwood-Fontbonne Academy (NFA) with Sister Carol Jean Vale SSJ, outgoing President of Chestnut Hill College (CHC), to formalize a longstanding agreement between NFA and CHC to establish a partnership in support of Montessori education. This partnership between the two institutions, both of which are sponsored works of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, provides:

  • Shared classroom and practice room space
  • Shared staffing for support of educational programs
  • Other initiatives that are part of the Chestnut Hill College Institute for Montessori Education (CHIME). 

Ryan shared the details of this collaboration. “It is truly an honor that Sister Carol was so passionate about Montesorri at CHC and NFA and to that end wanted to ensure this relationship, as part of her legacy, will flourish in the future. For the past 52 years, NFA has been a leader in Montessori education. NFA’s Montessori program is Philadelphia's only accredited school for children ages three through third grade and one of only six accredited Montessori schools in Pennsylvania. Over the years, the Montessori Program at NFA has grown to be a signature offering within its dual-path curriculum. 
Our expanded partnership is an important milestone for both NFA and CHC as we build on our strengths and set ourselves as leaders in Montessori education both in the Philadelphia region and on the national level. This Preschool - 8th Grade/Higher Education partnership is a transformational differentiator.
“The Montessori faculty and staff at Chestnut Hill College are excited to be partnering with Norwood Fontbonne Academy in advancing a model for Montessori education that reaches both students and teachers from early childhood to mid-level education,” said Dr. Christopher Dougherty, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at CHC. “As one of eleven U.S. colleges or universities offering an accredited program in Montessori education, CHC has been a longstanding leader in preparing generations of Montessori educators. We are proud to expand our partnership with NFA, a fellow sponsored work of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, whose faculty and staff are master teachers supporting a model for the highest standards for students in their Montessori programs. We look forward to our combined resources providing a range of educational and professional development opportunities for Montessori educators.” 
NFA as a lab school, creates an incubator for innovation and development of best practice. Our students will benefit from the energy and enthusiasm of an increased presence of student interns in the Montessori program. Our faculty can grow in their individual professional development, modeling life long learning and sharing their expertise with our colleagues at CHC. This collaboration provides access to rich professional development with master Montessorians and thought leaders.
This partnership allows us to continue progress on implementation of the strategic plan, Directed Toward Tomorrow:
Vitality & Stewardship
Partnership with CHC sets NFA apart as key differentiator to attract families and faculty and the opportunity to explore expansion of offerings to students as young as 18 months. 
Student Experience
Allows NFA to support quality teacher pedagogy and maintain the excellence and influence of Montessori education at NFA. Campus 

Aligns with planned and proposed enhancements to the Fontbonne building which were a result of comprehensive campus planning. 

Combining our efforts enriches both institutions and allows us to leverage our strengths and optimize opportunities for our communities. It’s a win, win for everyone but most especially for our students.”
Spirits on Fire
Formation Program in the CSSJ 
Mission and Tradition
May 2022—2023

By Jean Laurich SSJ
Spirits on Fire, a year-long formation program in the CSSJ mission and tradition, provides a transformative process for growing, leading, and continuing the mission, charism, and values of the Sisters of Saint Joseph into the future. A fifth cohort gathered recently in Chicago, with lay leaders affiliated with CSSJ Congregations and ministries throughout the country. 
Eight of our partners in mission were among this mission formation cohort. Dolores Clerico SSJ and Kerry Rusak, Associate in Mission, serve as part of the planning committee and program leaders. Since its inception in 2016, 23 partners in mission from our 10 sponsored ministries and Internal services have participated in Spirits on Fire. What an opportunity and gift for our sponsored ministries and the Congregation as we ‘move the mission boldly into the future.’
Members of Cohort 5 May 2022 – May 2023
Elizabeth Blessing, Principal
Mount Saint Joseph Academy

Tom Colgan, Director of Human Resources
Mary Poiesz-Moran, Health Care Coordinator
Colleen Neely, Nursing Coordinator
Saint Joseph Villa

Tom McGlinchey, Director of Marketing and Communications
Norwood Fontbonne Academy
                                                                                                                                 Sara Navarro Turcios, Administrative Assistant/Social Media Coordinator
SSJ Neighborhood Center

Jaclyn Newns, Chief Officer of Mission and Ministry
Jacki Reich, Associate Professor of Political Science
Chestnut Hill College
Sitting from left:  Elizabeth Blessing, Colleen Neely
Standing from left:  Dolores Clerico SSJ, Mary Poiesz-Moran, Sara Navarro Turcios, Kerry Rusak, SSJ Associate in Mission, Jacqueline Reich, Thomas McGlinchey, Jaclyn Newns, Tom Colgan  
I found Spirits on Fire moving, helping to move me towards wholeness in my ministry, informative by laying a foundation for my understanding of the history and mission of SSJ, and inspiring. I was particularly struck by the idea of the SSJ mission, my mission, to help people name, understand, and develop their gifts (and to do that work myself!). 

As a principal, the call to support others in this formation is a calling from God by being a part of this beautiful SSJ work. Likewise, it helped me look inward to think about what I need to embrace and what I need to let go to feel more whole. I had a lot of time to reflect on my relationships with those closest to me and how and when I ask for support and what I might need to let go of. 

I learned a lot about the Founding Sisters and their educating young women of no means or opportunity! We are using the portrait of an SSJ to form and design portraits of Mount graduates and Mount educators. 

Lastly, I was inspired by the talks. S. Phyllis spoke about serving students from diverse backgrounds with different profiles as she was tasked to welcome a school community that closed into her own. She discussed and gave examples of what I believe to be the heart of the mission - bringing transformational change in the form of unity where it is most needed.                   
Elizabeth Blessing
One thing that was very meaningful to me was to understand that to serve God and the world, I need to embrace my gifts and put them to the service of others. Sometimes I feel guilty/embarrassed that I have been so blessed with a comfortable lifestyle and an intellectual cast of mind that allows me to succeed in this world. But I have been coming to understand that these gifts are now to be turned to the service of others, in both the ordinary (my position as a professor at the college and my day-to-day encounters with colleagues and students) and the extraordinary (making contacts with the poor and needy in Africa through my work in the African Sisters Education Collaborative--ASEC). I am God's instrument in a real sense, and the Spirits on Fire experience helped me to give expression and to contextualize this insight that has been coming on to me gradually over the last few years.

Might I say that I especially appreciated learning about the original six SSJ partners in mission and how much I enjoyed the recreation of the kitchen where they first met?  These were tangible ways for me to connect to the majestic concepts that we were discussing, and they were powerful in my imagination as I looked to relate God to ordinary helping and serving.

The central theme of unity is powerful and enabling of growth, and it was on display throughout the week as we gathered and interacted with each other, even as we came from different backgrounds and served the SSJ mission in such diverse ways.  My group is an excellent example of this diversity and our collective willingness to listen and learn from each other has been key to my success at the retreat. The opportunity to continue to meet and relate throughout the coming year to the six elements needed to foster the mission of unity has already begun, and I can see already how essential our continued group meetings are for cementing and expanding our learning from the SOF program.       
Jacki Reich
It was wonderful to meet lay people from all over the country that are working in sponsored works of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Folks came from California, Florida, Louisiana, West Virginia, New York, and just about every state in between. It was inspiring to see how the SSJ mission has been woven into the fabric of this country, and to learn more about the community-building organizations that are living out the mission every day.

For me personally, it was helpful to better understand the history behind the Sisters of Saint Joseph and to dig into the mission and how it impacts my work at Norwood-Fontbonne Academy and the stories that I try to tell. I found the teaching to be excellent. I especially enjoyed learning a little about each of the original founding Sisters.
Tom McGlinchey
Spirits On Fire was such a beautiful experience! It was so nice to connect with other like-minded individuals from across the country who live the mission each day in the different sponsored works.  I left feeling rejuvenated and ready to carry on the mission in my own life and in my ministry here at the Villa. I felt blessed to have been chosen and look forward to completing each module and reconnecting with my tablemates from our Cohort. We are also hoping to meet up with the Partners in Mission from the Philadelphia area who have been a part of past cohorts to keep the spark alive and continue “Tending the Fire”. Thank you to the Congregation for sharing this beautiful gift with us!                                                      
Colleen Neely
It was a wonderful experience that had the perfect balance of workmanship, relationship building and internal reflection to get the most out of the program.  I have been through many leadership trainings during my professional career and have taken numerous assessments of what type of leader I am and what leadership qualities I have or need to work on.  I must say how unique the Spirits on Fire approach was in that I have never asked the question of how I can infuse the mission and vision of an organization into my leadership skills. It was very refreshing and invigorating.  To think of leadership as a tool to further the mission as opposed to thinking of leadership as just my style or approach has sent me down a process of self-reflection and how I respond to interactions in my life. Thank you again for allowing us to participate in this program.  We are very excited to continue this year long journey. 
Tom Colgan    
Saint Joseph Villa participants
Pictured from left: Colleen Neely, Tom Colgan, and Mary Poiesz-Moran                                                             
 Photos courtesy of Judith Minear, CSJ and Jaclyn Newns
Saint Joseph Villa
Summer Picnic
July 15, 2022
Today’s Villa Picnic was so much fun! The weather was beautiful, and the food was delicious!

Thank you so much to all the staff who made today possible. It was enjoyed by all!
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"With the help of God's grace and in fidelity to our founder's expressed wish, we live and work lovingly among all persons with a special preference for those who are poor, which calls us wherever we are to be in union with them."
                         — SSJ Constitutions #21
Editor, Sister Carole Pollock SSJ | 215.248.7269 | |