Sister Mary Rinaldi, 54, figured that bake sales would require the patience of Job (if not the flour power of Pillsbury). Instead Rinaldi, who headed up fund-raising, rolled out a plan to peddle the nuns' prayers. The "Adopt-a-Sister" program, launched in 1992 (via a toll-free number: 1-877-OURNUNS), now includes some 2,500 good souls. Each has donated between $lOO and $200 a year to "adopt" a member of the order who prays for them—most commonly for good health—daily. Many of the pairings have grown to include letters and phone calls. And more: One nun sewed a wedding dress for her adopter's daughter. Says Wyckoff, N.J., resident Lyda De Gise, 78: "You know you've got a friendship that is everlasting."
In some cases, many friendships. One Florida widower adopted 100 nuns. "He was getting 100 birthday cards, 100 Christmas cards," says Sister Rinaldi. "It gave him life." And, she adds, the program has given the nuns "a new outlook. They have people to think about, babies to be born, ill to get well."
Just $1.5 million from their goal, the nuns watched last July as workers broke ground for the new residence. "But we're not finished," Sister Rinaldi is quick to add. "We're hoping to get some La-Z-Boys."
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