BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – One Facebook post brought attention to a handful of nuns playing at recess with students at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Baton Rouge.

The post highlighted members of the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. One of them being Sister Ashley Refugio, who was showcasing her basketball skills during recess.

That one day of fun does not tell the whole story about the role of the nuns at Sacred Heart and beyond.

The nuns returned four days later with a therapy dog named Gia, who is an 8-month-old Bernedoodle therapy puppy who spent the day with students at the school.

The Bernedoodle therapy puppy visited students both in class and at recess.

So how do nuns that are based in Baton Rouge end up training a therapy dog? Gia was given to the nuns sometime after her birth on December 22, 2021.

The Bernedoodle therapy puppy was born in Pennsylvania and made her way to Baton Rouge after the nuns agreed to train her for service. This is not the only therapy dog that the order has helped raise over the years.

In Cleveland, the nuns helped raise a Shih Tzu therapy dog named Ava, that for the last 14 years has helped comfort kids at a local school.

The nuns also helped raise a Cockapoo named Albee.

It turns out that having dogs in their communities is something that has been going on since the foundation of the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1910.

Since the order primarily serves in schools and parish communities, they said it was important to have dogs that were of good temperament.

Since Gia fits that description, she will be returning to the school in the future because the nuns will be assisting the school twice a week until the end of the year.

The nuns who are giving their time and efforts at Sacred Heart are Mother Mary Rosario Vega, Regional Superior, Sr. Tonia of the Heart of Jesus Borsellino, Sr. Ashley Marie Refugio Santora, Sr. Monica Hope Mercedes Waters, and Sr. Katherine Marie Chiara McCloskey.