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Causes for celebration during COVID-19

posted in: Education, Saint Mary's
Sister Runu Mrong, CSC

​Sister Runu Mrong, CSC, received her master’s degree from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois, in May 2020. Though the school postponed its graduation ceremony until 2021, the sisters in Moreau Convent at Saint Mary’s  honored  her, and other sister scholars, with a​ virtual celebration.

When the world went into lockdown and adopted social distancing due to the rampant spread of the novel coronavirus, schools closed and e-learning became the norm. So in March 2020, Holy Cross Sisters Edith Tumuhimbise, Evelyn Ntiamoah and Runu Mrong, students at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois, moved in to St. John’s Convent at Saint Mary’s to finish their coursework online.

In May, Sisters Edith and Evelyn completed their course with the Institute of Religious Formation, and Sister Runu earned her Master of Arts in ​pastoral ​studies. Inspired by their achievements, the ​sisters in Moreau Convent wanted to celebrate with a graduation party—and it went virtual!

But how to get a cap and gown for the degree-winning Runu? Sister Mary Ann unpacked her 21-year-old graduation gown, but there was no cap. Unable to shop, she had to rely on divine providence. She had a red tassel hanging in her office window, found just the right cardboard, the exact amount of black felt in the sewing room and, with the gift of creative sewing, produced the cap!

 Pizza and Chinese rice were properly delivered to the scholars, but the two convents couldn’t get together to celebrate. Not a problem in this digital age. Sister Mary Ann wrote a poem, shared below, and she and her housemates, Sisters Alice Condon, Joanne Becker, Karla McKinnie and Janet Nantumbwe, recited it for a congratulatory video. It was a virtual party that won’t be forgotten!

The Sisters three
They had to flee
Chicago town
No cap and gown

To old St. John’s
They came anon
To study with
Computer on.

They earned their grades
With many aides
And worked the limit
Of their spirit.

A graduate
Of Master’s state
Of high degree

Is Runu Mrong.
We know her long.
She is our star.
Both here and far.

The other two
Have finished, too.
Edith in
With Evelyn.

They learned by heart
Formation’s art
To teach and guide
The young arrived.

When COVID curse
Does not get worse
Just two will fly
Back home—Goodbye!

But Evelyn
Will stay and win
The high degree:

Congrats to all,
You’ve heard the call
To study well.
We now foretell

A future bright
To spread the light
Of Christ Our Lord
In one accord.

A real pizza party was celebrated that same evening, May 17, 2020, in Moreau Convent to honor Sister Janet, who had completed her freshman year at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana. Why not liven up lockdown with an “end of the semester” party:  gifts for Janet, another poem, and white elephant gifts for everyone. 

 Creative juices run when social contact is none!

— by Sister Mary Ann Uebbing, CSC