Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

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sha princess 3126 apr16 web Margaret McAndrew and Kylee McGrane, co-founders of The Princess Project, which organizes visits to children’s hospitals by college students dressed as princesses and characters, pose with students at Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden, where they talked about their program on Feb. 26. From left are students Alyssa Carrano, Caroline Berberian and Sophie Park; Miss McGrane and Miss McAndrew; and students Chrissy Chow, Julia Davis and Priya Patel. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

HAMDEN – Since graduating from Sacred Heart Academy in 2013, Margaret McAndrew has turned her passion for service and love of fairy tale princesses into a budding nationwide program for college students dressed as popular princesses to visit children in hospitals and schools.

She returned on Feb. 26 to talk to students about The Princess Project that she co-founded with Kylee McGrane to spread “some magic and a little bit of pink” among children who may be facing health problems and other issues.

“We volunteer at hospitals by bringing the magic of beauty at a time when a child just wants to be a kid,” said Ms. McAndrew.

The two entrepreneurs, who unabashedly admit to having loved dressing as princesses since age 6, have brought their non-profit to 30 colleges and universities, including the University of Connecticut and Fairfield University.

Already, The Princess Project is on target to visit 5,000 children this year.

“We are inspired by the kids we meet,” said Ms. McGrane. “We just sit with them, often on the linoleum floors of hospitals and talk about our favorite characters or let them take a selfie with a princess.”

The nonprofit trains its volunteers to offer individual, bedside and group visits, story readings and special events (visit www.theprincessprojectny.org).

“I found my passion for service at Sacred Heart Academy,” said Ms. McAndrew, who with Ms. McGrane attends the College of Mount St. Vincent in Riverdale, N.Y.

Expanding their message to the gathered high school students, the co-founders noted that while people face their own “dragons” every day, the way to handle them is by being “strong girls.”

“If you don’t keep your head up, your crown might fall off,” warned Ms. McAndrew, using the image of wearing an invisible crown of character. “So every day, tell yourself to be brave, strong, fearless ...”

“Believe in your ability to change things around you, and never ever forget your crown,” she said.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.