Friendship and Mathematical Collaboration Leads to Longtime Support
Our support of Sr. Barbara’s congregation flows from our love for her, and all that she is and stands for.”– Kathleen and Tom B., Mission Well Charter Members
Tom B. knows precisely when his longtime friendship began with Sister Barbara Reynolds, SDS. It was a 1985 gathering of Catholic mathematicians known as the Clavius Group at Notre Dame University in Indiana. Tom recalls, “She gave a lecture on a geometrical subject close to my heart – ‘Polyhedra in the Fourth Dimension’ – and we’ve been friends and mathematical collaborators ever since!”
While the international Clavius Mathematical Research Group is a tie that binds, Tom and his wife Kathleen’s friendship with Sr. Barbara goes far beyond the subject matter of math.
“She’s also interested in creative ways of teaching and working with students,” says Tom. He served 47 years on the faculty of Brown University in Providence, R.I., where Sr. Barbara spent the 1995-96 academic year collaborating with him on mathematics as a creative process. Tom says, “We share a commitment to student-centered learning and have enjoyed making joint presentations to the Clavius Group over the years.”
Kathleen met Sr. Barbara when she accompanied Tom for a Clavius symposium at Fairfield (Conn.) University in 2002. A year later—in Paris, France—they forged a friendship.
Kathleen retired and moved to Providence in 2002 when she and Tom married. She had worked in consumer research in Chicago and Memphis for a combined 20 years. During those years, she also taught part-time at Chicago’s Loyola University and Christian Brothers University in Memphis. She loved working with “seasoned students,” who often worked full time, many while raising families. She sees herself “in direct contrast to Tom and Barbara, who are particularly good with traditional students.” Kathleen shares, “We have lots of fun arguments about the benefits and limitations of each of those student populations.”
The couple looks forward to seeing Sr. Barbara at math conferences, where they open up their hotel room for daily Mass with a Jesuit colleague from the Clavius Group. Kathleen says, “Sister Barbara is often a reader and thoughtful contributor to our homilies.” Like Tom, she says their friendship with Sr. Barbara extends well beyond the Clavius Group.
“Tom is proud of his association with someone so committed and active in all her communities: academic, religious, in the U.S., as well as in Europe and Africa. He admires her greatly.”
Kathleen enjoys her own common ground with Sr. Barbara. “She’s the oldest of eight children and I’m the fifth of ten – we have similar stories and love sharing them. In this time of pandemic and social limitations, Sr. Barbara and I depend on regular phone conversation to recharge our batteries with laughter and newsy updates on our health and well-being. She’s one of my lifelines.”
In 2004, Tom and Kathleen began supporting the Salvatorian Sisters’ special projects to honor Sr. Barbara. As faithful monthly donors since 2013, Kathleen and Tom are Charter Members of the Sisters of the Divine Savior Mission Well. After their first year of full retirement in 2019, they decided to make quarterly transfers directly from their IRAs to their favorite charities. Their new strategy allows the couple to strengthen their support for the Sisters of the Divine Savior, while continuing to honor their cherished friendship with Sr. Barbara.
Support Our Mission
“Our support of Sister Barbara’s congregation flows from our love for her, and all that she is and stands for.”
- Kathleen and Tom B., Mission Well Charter Members
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For over 125 years, Sisters of the Divine Savior have been a gentle presence in a variety of ministries that connect us to so many people in need. As an international religious congregation, Salvatorian Sisters serve in 26 countries on five continents, guiding people of all faiths and cultures to greater fullness of life.
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