SHP senior Connor Fitzpatrick lives within a five block radius of most family members, who for years enjoyed the tradition of a weekly dinner together—until the pandemic hit. They quickly took up live video chats with his grandparents and other relatives, and it became a tradition for his younger siblings Grace (SHP ‘25) to sing, or Brennan (SHP ‘23) to play the piano during the calls.
Fitzpatrick, who has enjoyed visiting with the RSCJ living on campus at Oakwood for most of his life, had an idea. “We all saw that video from Siena, Italy, when a lonely man started singing a song all his neighbors know, and was joined by the entire town leaning out their windows,” said Fitzpatrick. “It was a love song to the town and a battle hymn against the separation of COVID.” I thought, ‘why can’t we do the same thing for the Sisters, through art, song, and poetry?’”
“I can’t carry a tune in a wet paper bag, but music and the arts are departments where Sacred Heart can take all comers. Just look at the talent at this school—we punch way above our weight. I knew I just had to float the idea and an avalanche of acts would show up,” he said.
His prediction was correct—“Sister Act” was born last summer as a weekly, half-hour Zoom session with the Sisters getting a front-row seat to three performances, each lasting about 10 minutes. Students, faculty, and alumni can participate by singing, reciting poetry, playing an instrument, or displaying any other fine arts talent. Specifically, Fitzpatrick is hoping to drum up dancers, band members, and younger participants from the Lower & Middle School, and Preschool and Kindergarten classes.
During a program this month, featured performers included Kip Nilsson (SHP ’24) on the trumpet, SHP Principal Dr. Jennie Whitcomb reciting poetry, and a special guest singer, Rick Negron, a professional actor who plays King George III in “Hamilton.” For the first “Act” last summer, singer and alumnus Armand Akbari (SHP ’19) opened the program, which is currently seeking more alumni participants.
Fitzpatrick is also involved with the RSCJ as a current member of the Sacred Heart Society, where he is paired with Sr. Pati Desmond, who serves as his mentor and conversation partner. His interest in the history and contributions of the RSCJ also influenced his academic pursuits—this spring he is one of three student speakers in SHS’s third installment of its TEDx event
, “Humanness – Citizens of the Earth;” he is slated to give a talk about declining vocations within the RSCJ Order.
To propel “Sister Act” into the future, Fitzpatrick’s siblings are poised to take the helm after Fitzpatrick graduates this spring—the pair have hosted the program solo before and “know all the ropes,” he said.
“The Sisters are pretty isolated, they can’t see the students, and for the most part they’re confined to Oakwood. It is gratifying to bring some joy and ease their loneliness. This is all for the Sisters, and they would love to hear from anyone. It doesn’t really matter what you do—everyone, and every act, is welcome.”