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Power of prayer fuels program for aging nuns

Published Mar. 1, 2017

When Sister Mary Rinaldi visited Tampa in 1991 seeking funding to build a Salesian Sisters' retirement facility, one man's words inspired her to try a new type of fundraising.

"We have more need for your prayers than you do for our money," said Fortune Bosco, a prominent Tampa attorney who dedicated his life to serving his community.

Together Sister Rinaldi and Bosco, who passed away in 2006, founded the Adopt a Sister program, inviting people to donate money to help a retired sister in exchange for her prayers.

The Salesian Sisters of Tampa will host a luncheon celebrating the program's 26th anniversary at noon on Friday (March 3) at Villa Madonna School, 315 W Columbus Drive.

"The power of prayer, that's the essence of this program," Sister Rinaldi said. "And I'm so happy to celebrate it."

In its early years, Adopt a Sister allowed for the completion of a Salesian Sisters Retirement Home, located in New Jersey.

Today, funding from adopters goes to maintain the facility and care for aging sisters.

Salesian Sisters spend their lives as educators evangelizing to youth. They live in simple convents at schools and in communities across the world. Sisters do not retire at a specific age. Many serve well into their 80s and 90s. When they retire, it is because they need assistance.

Adopters help ensure sisters receive the best care possible.

Adopted sisters pray for their adopters, who are welcome to visit them and send prayer requests, every day.

"The nuns feel like they are still needed," Rinaldi said. "A spiritual bond is formed."

All are welcome to attend the free anniversary luncheon and learn more about the Adopt a Sister program.

The event will include a showing of a 20/20 special featuring the Sisters, as well as messages from Sister Rinaldi and others.

The cost to Adopt a Sister is a suggested $160 donation. Adopters receive a biography and photo of their Sister.

For more information, visit salesiansisters.com.

Contact Sarah Whitman at sarahrothwhitman@tampabay.com.