The e-newsletter of Chestnut Hill College

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The e-newsletter of Chestnut Hill College

News & Notes

News & Notes

Being of Service — Despite Blizzard

When Winter Storm Jonas hit the Philadelphia area in late January, dumping up to nearly two feet of snow on CHC’s campus, students turned out in service to the Sisters of St. Joseph who found their cars buried.

Mary Katherine Ortale ’16, SGA president, continued the tradition established by Kait Ryan ’15, helping to shovel out the SSJ cars following the winter snowstorm.

“Kait used to go out and shovel all of the cars herself,” Ortale says. “She would start shoveling and encourage her residents to come out. So when she graduated she contacted me, hoping I could keep it alive.”

Ortale did just that, organizing a team of five students to help shovel out the cars. Soon, five turned into 10, which turned into 20 as, through word of mouth and social media, students came out in service to the sisters.

“Whether it was for 20 minutes or two hours, we were happy and, of course, the sisters were happy for any help students wanted to give,” Ortale says.

As a thank you for their time and service, the sisters invited the students into the Motherhouse for hot chocolate and provided pizza and desserts after the shoveling was completed.

What began as simply an act of love is growing and Ortale is hopeful that it continues after she graduates. Currently, Ortale is hoping to work with Jessica Day ’09, assistant director of athletics/academic success and community engagement, to set up a cycle where members of the various athletic programs would take turns doing the shoveling.

This would ensure that what Ryan started would continue for many years to come.

“It was a wonderful experience,” Ortale says. “I was even hoping we would have more snow so we could do it again.”


Sister Mary Xavier Kirby

A Passing of Note

Sister Mary Xavier Kirby, SSJ, Ph.D., fourth president of Chestnut Hill College passed away on January 26.

Sister Mary Xavier was a well-regarded faculty member in the English Department before serving as CHC’s fourth president from 1968 to 1980 and her list of accomplishments is long and admirable.

She was a tireless advocate for education, establishing the Montessori program and introducing a major in elementary education. She founded the ACT 101 program and added programs in continuing education, American studies and music education.

She established a cooperative program for nurses at Chestnut Hill Hospital, an exchange program with LaSalle College and opened Saturday classes to lay people, as well as launching a study of the curriculum.

Sister Mary Xavier served during the late 1960s and early '70s, a time of unrest, including student protests for change and modernization. It was a revolutionary time, not only in higher education, as she noted, but throughout the world.

Known for her keen wit, she was popular — delightful and charming —  and she will be greatly missed by many.

Watch for a full feature story about the life and accomplishments of Sister Mary Xavier Kirby, Ph.D., in the April edition of Connections.


The Power of the Horse

Mindy Tatz Chernoff '05 SGS, founder of The Resonant Horse,, an innovative approach to healing by using horses as teachers and catalysts for change and transformation, gave a TEDx talk, "How Horses Heal, Transform and Empower," in Wilmington, Del., in October. She discussed the ways horses can help facilitate a sense of presence, authenticity and congruence in people. Her talk can be seen here




Julian’s Gift

Teri Rouse, Ed.D., assistant professor of education, has published “Julian’s Gift,” a children’s book based on a true story. Julian is a child who is inspired to grow and nurture a spider plant, thereby learning responsibility and respect.

Rouse says, “Julian asked me to care for his spider plant sprout, which I did, putting it on my windowsill, where it still sits, almost 10 years later.”

She gives sprouts from that plant to her friends and family as a way to pay it forward. Some of these plants live on the fourth floor of St. Joseph Hall.


Message of Forgiveness Attracts a Full House

In spite of a nasty mix of snow and rain on February 15, Eva Kor delivered her message of forgiveness to a full house in the Mitchell Performing Arts Center Auditorium in Bryn Athyn.

Kor and her twin sister, Miriam, underwent pain and suffering as subjects of the experiments performed on twins by the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele in Auschwitz. In spite of that experience and the fact that she and Miriam were the sole surviving members of their family, Kor ultimately forgave her tormenters and speaks to audiences around the world about the power of forgiveness.


Happy Birthday Surprise

The Education Department surprised Sister James Agnes Campbell for her 80th birthday on Monday, February 22. Sister James has been a loving and devoted member of the department for many years. Her contributions to the College are far-reaching and appreciated by all.




Swarthmore Professor Speaks at SugarLoaf

Mark I. Wallace, Ph.D. professor of religion at Swarthmore College, presents “Where the Great Heron Feeds: Christianity, Animism and Re-Enchantment of the World,” at Commonwealth Chateau at SugarLoaf in February. Dr. Wallace uses biblical and historical sources to illustrate how Christianity sees God’s presence in nature. 

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Book Reception

Several faculty members who have published books recently shared them with the College community on February 22. Here, Barbara Lonnquist, Ph.D., scans “Into the Pensieve: The Philosophy and Mythology of Harry Potter” by Patrick McCauley, Ph.D.