ASTON, Pa. -- "Our Franciscan value is relationships," said Sister Esther Anderson. "That's the core value."
Sisters of Saint Francis of Philadelphia have always had some kind of relationship with the students at Neumann University, a school which they founded in 1965. But at the start of this current school year, it got a bit more personal.
"We were approached by Neumann about the need for further student housing," said Sister Anderson. "And we had vacated one of the wings of our building during the pandemic."
Neumann purchased the convent and converted a section of Glen Riddle Hall into dormitories for about 40 students. Across the hall, a similar number of sisters reside in their own rooms.
While the walls are thick enough to keep the peace between wings, the students and sisters found it better to break down any figurative barriers between them.
"At the beginning, I thought we weren't really going to cause paths, but eventually I started seeing them more and more outside taking walks," said 19-year-old student Kayla Patino. "We all just created a bond that honestly, I love."
Those bonds are forged at community parties, dining events, and more. Students have even enjoyed teaching the sisters how to perform viral TikTok dances.
"I think they bring out the young part of us that we kind of squelched as we got older," said Sister Bernadette Brazil. "And we kind of bond quite well together."
While the students gain priceless wisdom from their elders, the catholic nuns get to experience the fruits of their Franciscan mission first-hand.
"We both live Franciscan values, like, we have our Franciscan values of relationship, peacekeeping, care of creation and you know, reaching out to people who are underserved," said Sister Anderson. "So, it's given us an opportunity to see our legacy as Sisters of St. Francis being lived out and continued through the students at Neumann University."