It’s the best news since the last Yankees’ win, bar nun.
On the steps of Keating Hall, Dominican Sister of Hope Mary Alice Hannan received an honorary degree from Fordham University alongside Tino Martinez, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and five other honorees. Sister Mary Alice was recognized for her work as executive director of Part of the Solution in the Bronx.
While heading the social service agency from 1996 to 2011, Sister Mary Alice realized that, in order to truly make people feel nourished, she would need to offer them more than a meal. She helped to develop the organization into a safe, warm community that is open seven days a week to offer freshly prepared meals, foodstuffs, clothing, and legal services.
When asked about the ceremony, Sister Mary Alice wrote, “The day was a little overwhelming….It was very well organized and friendly. It was also a VERY humbling experience. It brought a greater knowledge of how BLESSED I am.”
“It was also a VERY humbling experience. It brought a greater knowledge of how BLESSED I am.”
After saying that she was humbled by the experience, Sister Mary Alice noted that receiving an honorary degree for working with those in need felt a little “strange.”
“I’m like, ‘This is nuts!’” she said when asked about this honor and past awards she’s received. “I’m just having a good life.”
In addition to developing one of the largest emergency food programs in New York City, Sister was Director of Volunteers at Covenant House, Director of Social Ministries at Holy Cross Church, and Program Director for Encore 49 Residence, all of which are in New York City. In 2000, Sister Mary Alice opened Desda’s Grate, a shelter for homeless women and their children in New Rochelle, NY, where she now resides.
Sister Mary Alice says that the Fordham degree was significant for as she embarks on a new phase of her life.
“It gave a greater desire to figure the ‘final chapter’ of my life out,” she says. “Turning 75 in November has new meaning after this.”