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December 15, 2020

AHA Blog: Giving the Gift of Yourself

Conventional wisdom tells us the best gifts come in small packages, but some of the most heartfelt gifts are those that cannot be confined to a box or elaborately wrapped in paper.

“Without many of the distractions of my pre-pandemic life, I find an increased opportunity to reflect,” said AHA Director of Mission and Ministry Joan Connelly. “This reflection has increased my awareness of my many blessings. The gratitude I feel impels me to find ways to share the love and goodness I experience with others. Inevitably, the sharing of my time, talent, and treasure enriches me.


“Christian service is another name for love. While COVID-19 restrictions challenge us to find new ways to serve one another, loving service to our family and friends seems to be the place to start. We can ask ourselves, ‘What is God inviting me to do at this moment?’”


“Join the choirs of angels that proclaim peace by their song to the shepherds,” AHA Religious Studies Department Chair Carol Fay added. She shared the following links so those who have supported AHA service trips may take this time to continue the work they started.

Those who traveled to the Arizona/Mexico border may visit to reconnect with the Kino Border Initiative.


Visit to provide additional support for the women and children at Caroline House in Bridgeport, Connecticut.


Anyone who helped with hurricane relief work in New Orleans or in Far Rockaway, may visit to support the St. Bernard Project’s ongoing efforts to get people back into their homes after storms and floods.

Log onto to help Rebuilding Together provide necessary home repairs to low-income homeowners.

“This year, we are challenged to be more creative and more aware of those in need, for the need is great — perhaps even greater than ever,” AHA Director of Campus Ministry Kathleen Sylvester noted. “This year in particular, the Christmas season presents us with a challenge since we are encouraged not to gather in large groups. On a personal level, I am trying to be more present to people by making phone calls to folks I know are alone, and being there for those who are grieving.

“In school, our Student Council has done a wonderful job of creating a weekly Christmas video for the students at St. Peter’s School in Philadelphia. Our students also prepared an online Advent calendar for them.


“We collected food for the Community FoodBank of NJ and posted a link so members of our school community could donate directly to the food bank.


“Every year, we run a toy drive for the Center for Hope and Safety, an organization for women and children who have experienced domestic violence. Due to COVID-19, we were not able to physically collect toys and gifts for the moms this year, but instead provided our community with a link so they could donate toys and items.”

AHA Campus Minister Maryanne Miloscia shared, “During the pandemic. we have strived to keep our connections with other SSND Institutions. Each year when we did our Community Service Trip to Caroline House, we would stay at the SSND convent in Wilton and visit with the sisters in Villa Notre Dame, the healthcare area. In the fall of 2019, the healthcare area was moved from Wilton to Ozanam Hall in Queens.


Our religious studies classes were taking turns writing cards to the sisters for all the holidays until the pandemic struck. This school year, our Outreach activity group has kept this tradition going. Outreach wrote cards to the
20 sisters at Ozanam for Foundation Day in October, and we will be writing Christmas cards. The students enjoy taking the time to write to the sisters about life at AHA, and the sisters enjoy being remembered by the students.”