SSJs Celebrate Neighbor With Pomp and Surprises

May 8, 2020

Avi Presberg of Rochester was scheduled to graduate in May from American University in Washington DC, with an interdisciplinary B.A. degree in CLEG (Communication, Law, Economics, & Government) but, of course, the coronavirus disrupted those plans. His parents, Marcie and Martin, decided that a parade down the block of Mulberry Street in Rochester between Rockingham and Goodman Streets might be a festive substitute. Alerting the neighbors that we were invited to shout, clap, wave flags, play musical instruments, hold signs, bang drums or kettles at 5 pm on Friday, May 8, they spread the word. It was a chilly afternoon, but we were ready. The parade began with Avi in his cap and gown, standing upright in the open sun roof of his dad's car (which was broadcasting Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance) and toasting the cheering crowd that was keeping an appropriate social distance on both sides of the street.

What the Presberg family didn't know was that the SSJ Mulberry Street community was planning a surprise. With the help of SSJ Associate Shirley Nagg, Sister Monica Weis designed a "Certificate of Achievement" for Avi, signed by two Nazareth College Faculty neighbors (Drs. Monica Weis, SSJ and Mike Chen from the Dept. of Nursing) to be formally presented to Avi as the car neared the end of the block. Sisters Phyllis Tierney (who printed the document), Dora Christian, (who loaned her academic robe to Mike) and St. Luke Hardy (who framed the document) were leading the cheering from curbside. But there was more to the surprise. Both Sister Monica and Dr. Chen were wearing academic regalia to add some class, color, (and fun) to the event. And yet, even that was not all. Neighbors Amy Burns (MCC faculty) and Dan Behan (former McQuaid faculty) spotted Monica and Mike and spontaneously ran to their closets to grab their academic robes. The more, the merrier! The four festively garbed neighbors spread across the street (again keeping safe social distance) to interrupt the parade and present Avi with his award. More clapping, shouting, and celebrating -- and a few tears in Avi's eyes as he saw our love and support.

Surprises are always welcome when one has achieved a goal!

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