The Madames at the NYC
Convent of the Sacred Heart
on 91st St "Back in the day"
I had some ties to the Convent of the Sacred Heart School on Manhattan’s upper east side back in the late ‘80’s. Even then I was impressed. Here you had high-school girls from the wealthiest families in New York volunteering in AIDS shelters back in the day when Doctors were refusing to treat HIV positive patients for fear of a disease we did not yet understand. This was a school that turned girls into women and prepared them to take their place at the top echelons of whatever career they chose to go into. But then that was the way that the Religious of the Sacred Heart—those nuns in “back in the day” were known simply as “The Madames”-- approached education. They were the drill sergeants of the Church’s women marines and they weren’t going to waste their time on the arts of Eisenhower-era housewifery. So I was delighted a month ago or so to see the following article appear on the local newstation:
Some high school students in Manhattan are using their math lessons to lend a literal helping hand. They've created and built a prosthetic using a 3-D printer. It's not your traditional high school math class. Instead, it's a brilliant blend of math, engineering and problem solving, all with a purpose. With the help of a state-of-the-art 3-D printer and a group called E-NABLE, students at Sacred Heart are now constructing prosthetic hands for children in need.
"It makes you want to go to math class every day, as funny as that might sound," one student said."
And how it all works is surprisingly simple and inexpensive. Through E-NABLE, the students were matched with 16-year-old Justyn, who needs two hands made, as well as Nathanial and Isaac, who are both 6 and need one hand each. By calculating and scaling each boy's measurements and taking into account their unique personalities, the kids have been creating custom designs.
"We're designing him a Wolverine X-Men-themed hand, which is really exciting," one said. They are designs that can easily become a reality with the help of the printer. According to teacher, Tanya Lerch
"One of the biggest things you get that makes you cringe as a teacher is that question, of when are we going to use this in the real world," "So to suddenly have this project where they not only saw how it was helping the real world, but there was a real person receiving it on the other end."
When Lerch first heard of the E-NABLE project, she knew her students would jump on board. Now, the all-girls school on the Upper East Side is one of only a select few in the country participating in the project.
"They're using their heart, they're using their brain, they're here after school working hard when they don't have to be, I think it was a really nice change of pace for them to do something that is helping someone else, and to see that engineering can be used for the good of people."
It's truly a labor of love that will undoubtedly be well received this holiday season. In fact, Nathanial is planning to visit the school next Friday to receive his custom prosthetic in person.
"We take having hands for granted so often, at least I know I do, so I think the fact that we can give a little boy a hand that he doesn't have, it's something that's so simple and absolutely amazing," one student said.
And believe it or not, this is not an expensive endeavor. Granted, these aren't medical-grade prosthetics, but they're functional and only cost about $20 a hand to create. The staff at Sacred Heart hopes upon seeing this, more schools will jump on board.
The Religious of the Sacred Heart, by the way, are members of LCWR. This is one of the things that causes the fear and anxiety about the modern nuns of people ranging from Archbishop Lori and Cardinal Burke all the way down the ladder to the Katholik Krazies like our friends at Restore DC Catholicism and The Tenth Crusade (which apparently has moved back to its previous name from being—for a while—What The Pope Really Said. Why do so many people fear competent nuns? Is it because they serve as the perfect foil for us to see the incompetency of so many priests and bishops? Whatever the reason, we need more women like the Religious of the Sacred Heart that can give our future generation both a mission and the tools with which to accomplish it