Serrans Support Aquinas Students with Donation

June 09, 2021

Nashville, TN – This Spring, Aquinas College received needed support from one of the country’s most prominent advocates for religious vocations: The Serra Club. The Williamson County and Nashville Chapters of the Serra Club donated toward computer upgrades for Aquinas College, the school where the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia study in their early years of formation.

“This gift helped to provide new computers for our College, something we much needed,” said Sister Cecilia Anne Wanner, O.P., president of Aquinas. “When Bob Rudman heard of our need, he immediately offered to help by reaching out to the good people at the Serra Club. I have long been grateful to the Serrans for their deep support of religious vocations,” she said.

All of the young sisters of the Nashville Dominicans attend Aquinas College, where they take courses in theology and philosophy, as well as fulfil the requirements for teacher licensure. “As the sisters study and prepare to serve in Catholic schools, it is essential to their studies that they have access to up-to-date computers. The Serrans have shown their support of our young sisters by helping to fulfil this need in a very concrete way, providing funding to make the purchase of these new computers possible,” Sister Cecilia Anne said.

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Postulants of the Dominican Sisters gather in their classroom at Aquinas College around a newly donated computer.

Bob Rudman contacted his fellow Serrans and others to track down assistance for the project. He finds his association with the sisters to be enriching on many levels. “It’s good doing things with the sisters. You have to just get involved. As the lay folks get closer and appreciate, get a different insight, it is good all the way around. They grow in their faith.” A long-time friend of Aquinas College, Rudman assisted with a number of other volunteer projects this academic year, helping Aquinas Library and making ceiling improvements in the Aquinas main building. Rudman says of volunteering, “It increases the support. When you physically see something, rather than just hear about it” volunteers gain a deeper understanding of religious life and the impact their donation of time and talent really can make to support the mission. Rudman reflected on his time volunteering: “It’s kind of neat to take a lunch break and have a piece of pizza with the sisters and talk about different things.” He finds the exchange of conversation helpful to learn about the sisters and other students at Aquinas, and of their hopes, concerns, and ideas.

The students have noticed a difference. Sister Lucia Christi Blankartz, OP, ’22, a candidate for the B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies at Aquinas, expressed her gratitude. “Before we received the new computers, instruction time would frequently be interrupted by a need to change rooms in order to find a better-working computer, or the need to change a part of the instruction because the computers could not load or support the online materials or media our instructors had planned to use.” She recalls the relief they all experienced on the day the new computers were used in class. “We were able to remain in our normal classrooms for instruction.  The use of the internet and media for lectures, projects, and presentations was performed with much ease,” she commented.

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Sister Lucia Christi, OP, ’22 (left) and Sister Mary Philippa, OP, ’22 (right) are pursuing studies at Aquinas College in preparation for the teaching apostolate.

Like most schools, equipment at Aquinas College is on a rotation cycle to ensure that the necessary number and quality of reliable computers are available for faculty, staff, and student use. Donated funds supported the purchase of three Dell Optiplex 3080 computers that were placed in classrooms in need of upgrades. The project was part of a larger much-needed technology replacement that occurred through the year, initiated by a gift from Jim and Nancye Clayton in the fall.

Serra was among several donors who made the recent computer upgrades possible, including the Knights of Columbus of Williamson County. The Serra Club is an organization of dedicated Catholics who share the common desire to promote and foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Serra is international, with national and local chapters around the world.

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Sister Cecilia Anne, OP receives a donation from Grand Knight Bill Jones, of the Williamson County Knights of Columbus.

“Thank you to the Serra Club and all of the donors who have generously given these computers to Aquinas. . . Please know that during our classes we offered our prayers and study for all of your spiritual and temporal needs. May God continue to bless you!” said Sister Lucia Christi on behalf of her classmates.

Looking ahead, Sister Cecilia Anne hopes to support additional needs as Aquinas College begins its 60th Anniversary year this August. “Our current website is a decade old and much in need of freshening up. As we prepare to celebrate our 60th anniversary in the coming year, this seems the perfect time to introduce a new website,” Sister said. “We are hoping that the Lord might send a benefactor who is willing to partner with us to make this possible.” The College is also working toward installing a security camera system this summer to ensure the safety of those studying and working at Aquinas. The 83-acre Dominican Campus is located in urban Nashville. “We’re about halfway to reaching our goal of funds raised for the security camera project,” said Sister Cecilia Anne.

Aquinas College is a private, Catholic, four-year liberal arts college founded in 1961, owned and operated by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation in Nashville, Tennessee. Offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in education and the arts and sciences, Aquinas College is a leader in the formation of educators who are sent forth to teach, preach, and witness to Truth and Charity for the salvation of souls and the transformation of culture.

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