Philadelphia Story

When I lived in Philadelphia in my early 20s, I was always impressed by the way Philly did things its own way. The following story from NBC’s Philadelphia affiliate is a reminder of that tradition: "Nun named head of Philadelphia-area chamber of commerce." The sister in question, Francesca Onley, CSFN, has been president of Holy Family University in Northeast Philadelphia since 1981, raising the student population from 500 students to 3,500 and instituting masters’ programs that raised the school’s status from a college to a university. Al Taubenberger, the president of the local chamber of commerce, was quoted in the story that "I like working with someone who’s closer to God than I am." Colorful anecdotes abound in the Philly press about Onley, including an incident where the school’s neighbors complained about a noise disturbance; expecting a security guard to handle the situation, neighbors were surprised when Onley herself showed up. The Philadelphia Inquirer also reported in 2006 that Onley drives herself to all meetings and events, pumps her own gas, and has a favorite cure for insomnia: "a touch of Jack Daniel’s." Jim Keane, SJ
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