CSJ club hosts tea party

The CSJ club and campers invited the local CSJ sisters to join them for tea and treats in Windmoor March 1.


Senior Maura Graham grabs a teacup from the table at the CSJ tea party March 1 in WIndmoor. CSJ club moderator Jennifer Greene helped prep for the event. photo by Trang Nguyen

by Mary Massman

About 50 juniors and seniors filed into Windmoor, where they piled their plates with pastries and admired STA monogrammed China plates and cups. The students took their seats and found themselves in an unlikely situation in Thursday second period: having a tea party with nuns.

Junior Sophia Tumminia is one of the club officers of the CSJ club, or Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph, which helped put on this event. The tea party was held in Windmoor March 1, with setup period one and discussions taking place periods two and three. All CSJ camper alumnae and CSJ club members were allowed to attend.

“I think we recognized that it was a really good opportunity to get to know the sisters in a more casual way, rather than something more formal,” Tumminia said. “We thought it would be a really fun thing to do and get out of class for a little bit.”

The tea party is just one example of the CSJ club’s goal of facilitating interaction between the sisters of St. Joseph and students at STA.

“The CSJ club was started a couple years ago with the idea that we’re losing the sisters on campus,” Greene said. “It was an effort to be a school group that would try to be a liaison between the sisters and the campus, and then try to work on activities to keep us connected to the sisters of St. Joseph, so we’re in touch.”

The tea party event was inspired by a CSJ camp lunch. The CSJ camp is a leadership camp sponsored by the sisters of St. Joseph, where teacher-nominated rising juniors have the opportunity to interact with the sisters for three days at the CSJ motherhouse in St. Louis, where many sisters reside. When the camp was held on campus, one of the more popular events was inviting the sisters who live in Kansas City to have lunch with them.

When the camp was moved to the motherhouse three years ago, this event was dropped and has not been revisited until this year. Theology teacher and CSJ club moderator Jennifer Greene had attended the event once during her first year at STA when she was a campus minister and was excited to bring it back.

“I loved it, just watching the girls interact and hearing funny stories and seeing these nuns in sort of a different way, having conversations and hearing about how they were kids or things they were frustrated with in school, you know, that they were teenagers at some point,” Greene said.

Tumminia agrees with Greene that the tea party event was an uncommon opportunity to visit with the sisters. Interacting with one particular sister stood out to her as a highlight of the event.

“I really liked talking to one of the sisters,” Tumminia said. “Her name was sister Joan, and she was a riot, she was so funny. I just felt like I connected with her, and it was really awesome.”

Although the club members were introduced to this event idea at the beginning of the year, they only began planning about three or four weeks ago. Since Greene is both the director of the CSJ camp and club, she was very involved in the planning and felt that this first year may be the most difficult to organize.

“Our club has not been in existence that long, but we’ve talked about doing the tea party, and we just have not done it yet,” Greene said. “This is the first year we’re like ‘We’ve got to do it.’ This year feels slightly scattered just because we didn’t have as much time, but we’ll continue it on in the year, and we’ll know a little bit more what we have to do kind of first semester too.”

Tumminia admits the tea party did take planning, from helping with invitations, moderating the RSVPS, putting out treat lists, collecting ideas for treats and simply being available and willing to help. However, compared to other projects she has planned as a CSJ officer, it was not as complicated to put together.

“This was a lot easier to plan than a fundraiser,” Tumminia said. “It was not that bad. We got to reach out to the sisters, and they were really easy to get to. We just did it potluck style so everyone brought food.”

Greene felt grateful for her club officers who continuously stepped up to the plate to put the event together. She also acknowledged that the help from other girls attending the event lessened the chaos of planning and was nice to see.

“I’ve really appreciated the enthusiasm from the students,” Greene said. “I know it pleases the sisters to get to come back and interact with everybody, so that’s one of the things I’m going to enjoy.”

The special character and compassion the sisters possess was not lost on any student able to engage with the sisters and bridge the gap between them. Tumminia is hopeful that CSJ club will host this unique event again and is excited to have the chance to introduce it to current sophomores.

“I expected it to be a lot more on the religious side and more serious about their vocation and their calling,” Tumminia said. “Mainly we reflected on how a lot of them went to STA, so we talked about similar interests, and things that we both enjoyed doing and what their time was like here, and it was really cool.”