b"The programs benefits are two-fold: The brotherspass along their wisdom and provide mentorship, whilethe students receive spiritual guidance. Participants alsoengage in bonding activities, such as meals and boardgames at the residencea boon for the Marianists.Reyes submitted her application with a short biog-raphy, which soon found its way into Brother Stupkashands. After learning about her musical interests, heknew immediately he wanted to meet her. My background is almost 80 percent music, andshe was interested in music, too, Brother Stupka said.We hit it off immediately.Brother Stupka said he has mentored several studentsthrough the SM Friends Program since his arrival atSt. Marys in 2014. However, the mentoring and visitsstopped during COVID-19 lockdowns as the programpaused. Brother Stupka said the sudden isolation wasdifficult, especially since brothers were used to seeingstudents on a regular schedule.The thing that hit me the most was the fact that I couldn't continue giving piano lessons to my twostudents at the time, Brother Stupka said. I'm gladthat we're getting the program going againI signed up when the program started again becauseIve had previous experiences that were positive.Now with her own car and a new schedule thissemester, Reyes performs service hours at other sitesbut still visits Brother Stupka in her free time to continuetheir musical conversationsand lessons. Besides her with a teaching certificate. They became my close Marianist Brother Dan StupkaMarianist education at St. Marys, the mentorship is friends, and I just loved going to see them.enjoys the camaraderie withArely Reyes in the SM Friendssomething she knows she wouldnt get anywhere else. During spring break in 2020, Heerdegen went home program.There's such a focus at St. Marys on community, to Grayslake, Illinois, and remained there as the uni-and its been a real blessing, Reyes said. Im thankful versity closed classrooms and shifted to online courses.to be able to do this. Missing Brother Cornell, Heerdegen had mixed successKristy Heerdegen is another believer in SM Friends. reaching him through phone calls and letters. HealthAs a freshman in Fall 2019, she applied for the SM issues prevented him from responding regularly, andFriends program and was paired with Marianist sadly, he died on Sept. 19, 2022.Brother Harry Cornell. Heerdegen laughed whenYou never know the last time youll talk to or seerecalling their first lunch meeting, saying Brother someone, Heerdegen said. The visits and the lunchesCornell, who was a math teacher at Central Catholic with them are so important.High School in San Antonio, originally thought she Heerdegen encourages students in the leadershipwas there for math tutoring. program to meet with the Marianists not only forBrother Cornell and Heerdegen became fast friends, service hours, but also in their free time, noting thatand their weekly meetings soon became multiple trips its a way of giving back to these men who haveto the residence throughout the week, as Heerdegen given their lives to Christ and have experienced andenjoyed hearing stories from the other brothers.done so much.I hate thinking of going to see them as just servicehours, said Heerdegen, now a senior and math major Nathaniel Miller is a writer from San Antonio.HELP CARE for Marianist senior priests and brothers. To donate, visit marianist.com/donate or call 1.800.348.4732.10 Call 1.800.348.4732"