BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – One Facebook post brought attention to a handful of nuns playing at recess with students at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Baton Rouge.
That post highlighted a good time being had by members of the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.
Sister Ashley Refugio was there and the local nun played a few sports in high school.
One of those was basketball and her love for the game showed through as she showed off her skills during recess.
That one day of fun does not tell the whole story about the role of the nuns at Sacred Heart and beyond.
The nuns are based at a convent on George O’Neal Rd. and they would return four days after that day of fun.
This time, they came with a therapy dog named Gia.
Gia is an 8-month-old Bernedoodle therapy puppy who spent the day with students at the school.
The Bernedoodle therapy puppy visited students both in class and at recess.
So how do nuns that are based in Baton Rouge end up training a therapy dog?
Gia was given to the nuns sometime after her birth on December 22, 2021.
The Bernedoodle therapy puppy was born in Pennsylvania and made her way to Baton Rouge after the nuns agreed to train her for service.
This is not the only therapy dog that the order has helped raise over the years.
In Cleveland, the nuns helped raise a Shih Tzu therapy dog named Ava.
For the last 14 years, Ava has helped comfort kids at a local school.
The nuns also helped raise a Cockapoo named Albee.
It turns out that having dogs in their communities is something that has been going on since the foundation of the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1910.
Since the order primarily serves in schools and parish communities, they said it was important to have dogs that were of good temperament.
Gia has that temperament and will be returning to the school in the future.
The nuns will be assisting the school twice a week until the end of the year.
The nuns who are giving their time and efforts at Sacred Heart are Mother Mary Rosario Vega, Regional Superior, Sr. Tonia of the Heart of Jesus Borsellino, Sr. Ashley Marie Refugio Santora, Sr. Monica Hope Mercedes Waters, and Sr. Katherine Marie Chiara McCloskey.
The Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament can be found in 13 countries.