Campus Ministry arranged a luncheon to create a dialogue between current students and the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Kassandra Masilamani ’17 and Sr. Cecilia James Mahoney share a laugh.

Luncheon Brings Students and Sisters Together

Kassandra Masilamani ’17 liked the Sisters of St. Joseph before she even met them.

As a young woman living in Honduras, Kassandra’s mother Ligia Almendares ’94 found out about Elms College from the pastor of her church in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. The priest, Fr. Neil Tiedmann, even set Ligia up with a scholarship that covered her first two years of school (Ligia’s hard work earned her scholarships to cover the final two years).

Not knowing any family, any friends, or much English, Ligia’s adjustment to life in Chicopee would have been difficult without the help of Maureen Broughan, SSJ, a site supervisor at the Homework House. Sr. Maureen helped Ligia settle in, showed her around, and even found her a host family.

Years later, as a first year at Elms College, Kassandra finally got to meet the women her mother spoke so fondly about when campus ministry hosted a luncheon with current students and some of the Sisters of St. Joseph to create dialogue between the two groups.

“It’s a chance for the students to find out what is behind the Elms College mission statement, what the tagline ‘founding tradition of the Sisters of St. Joseph’ really means,” said Carol Allan, SSJ, director of campus ministry.

Sr. Carol and Assistant Director of Campus Ministry Eileen Kirk came up with the idea for the program after a Sister from the congregation commented that they wanted to get to know Elms College students. They decided a luncheon would allow the students and the Sisters of St. Joseph a chance to connect and converse about contemporary issues in Catholicism and learn a little bit one another too.

Kassandra enjoyed listening to Sr. Cecelia James Mahoney recount stories from her time as a teacher in Africa and still remembers her advice to the freshman.

“She told me: ‘Listen to others, but always stay true to your own ideas. You know, you’re just as smart as they are.’”