Nick Vance playing guitar.
Nick Vance '18 leads a singalong with the residents at The Little Sisters of the Poor.

A Summer Spent With the Little Sisters of the Poor

Dozens of elderly residents at the Little Sisters of the Poor Holy Family Residence made their way to the main lobby on July 27. Some walked on their own, some came in wheelchairs, and others were escorted by the sisters. But just about everyone carried a smile and excited energy. Nick Vance ’18, one of the seminarians from The Saint Paul Seminary at the University of St. Thomas who spent the summer at the residence, played his acoustic guitar and led a singalong concert that featured songs from Johnny Cash to Bob Dylan to Eric Clapton.

Not only did the residents sing and clap along, they even got up to dance. The sentimental scene even brought a photographer documenting the event to tears.

July 27 marked the final day of the seminary’s “ministry to the sick and suffering” summer program. Select members of the seminary spend this time ministering at homeless shelters, hospitals or elderly care centers like the one run by the Little Sisters of the Poor.

“I don’t have anything to offer these people except my presence and the grace of God working through me,” said Vance, from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. “But with that, there have been so many amazing encounters.”

Vance served at the Holy Family Residence in downtown St. Paul alongside Mitchell Kendrioski, a seminarian from the Diocese of Hartford. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the men visited with the residents, served at Mass, and helped out in any needed way. But in short, they really just became friends with the sisters and residents who live there.

Mitchell Kendrioski speaks with one of the residents on his final day of ministry.

“The experience in this program has been so eye-opening,” Vance shared on his final day. “I’ve had to encounter my own poverty of spirit as I meet people who are suffering, who are approaching their own death, and I find myself asking, ‘How do I come to terms with death? How do I encounter my own suffering?’”

Vance and Kendrioski will return to The Saint Paul Seminary in the fall for another year of priestly formation.