(RNS) — Now here’s something you don’t see every day: A Carmelite nun, in full habit, cutting trees with a chainsaw.
Sister Margaret Ann, principal of Miami’s Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School, caught the attention of an off-duty police officer, who posted photos and video of her at work on the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Facebook page on Tuesday (Sept. 12).
The post said acts of kindness like hers “remind us all that we are #OneCommunity in #MiamiDadeCounty” and included the praying hands emoji for good measure.
The nun told CNN the chainsaws were sitting in a school closet, and, after Hurricane Irma left a path of destruction through the city, “they didn’t belong there. They needed to be used.
“We teach our students, ‘Do what you can to help,’ and so this was an opportunity where I could do something to help, and — thanks be to God — I was able to do it.”
The road was blocked, the principal said, and she had seen a car spin in the mud and almost crash into a wall.
“There was a need, I had the means, so I wanted to help out,” she said.
Soon, Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School alumni had stopped by to help, and, she said, it turned into “a really good community project.”
The school noted on its Facebook page, “We are so blessed to have her and the Carmelite Sisters at our school. We are proud of the example they show for our students and other members of the community every day.”
The police department’s post has been shared widely on Facebook, and Sister Margaret Ann has also appeared in reports by NPR, People Magazine and other national and local news outlets.
Some Facebook commenters expressed concern for the nun, pointing out how hot it was in Miami and how dangerous it was to use a chainsaw while wearing loose-fitting clothing like a habit.
Others shared the encouragement they took from her example.
“Prayers are great, but prayer accompanied by action is powerful,” reads the most-liked comment under the original video of Sister Margaret Ann in action.