Home » Blog » Tony and the NIH: Our newest alpaca becomes a part of history

Tony and the NIH: Our newest alpaca becomes a part of history

This past April, the Sisters of Providence were blessed with a bouncing bundle of alpaca joy, Raphael Anthony (aka Tony). It couldn’t have come at a better time. At this point we were several weeks into our “shelter in place” period, so having new life come forth was just the little shot of joy we all needed.

The official photograph of Providence Raphael Anthony
Casey Kellum, photographer

The staff at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, the ministry of the Sisters of Providence where Tony resides, decided his name should reflect what was happening during these unprecedented times. So our new alpaca baby or cria, was formally named Providence Raphael Anthony. Raphael was chosen to honor our frontline heroes as St. Raphael, one of the seven Archangels, is the patron saint of nurses, physicians and medical workers. Anthony was selected to honor Dr. Anthony Fauci who serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Late this May, the Sisters of Providence received a special request from The Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum. They are documenting the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) role in the COVID-19 pandemic and want to include a photograph of Tony as he was named for Dr. Fauci.

Associate Director and Curator for the Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum, Michele Lyons explains, “Right now we’re collecting images, documents, articles, and objects relating to the pandemic and NIH. As you can imagine, we’re not able to get clinical or scientific items yet since those people are working hard and the rest of us aren’t allowed on campus.  We’ve been concentrating on collecting popular culture items focused on Dr. Fauci since he is the public face of the NIH at this moment. The objects show how the general public has reacted and how businesses large and small are capitalizing on his fame. So far the object collection includes a Fauci lapel pin, socks, tee shirt, bobblehead, yard sign, and prayer candle.”

Casey Kellum, the official photographer in the Sisters of Providence Mission Advancement department, captured the perfect image of our little alpaca.  She said that it was if he almost knew what was happening and actually seemed to “pose” at various times. A photo of Tony was selected and sent digitally to The Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum along with an official “Deed of Gift” signed by Sisters of Providence General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, SP. When the photo is used, the citation will be “Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, photographer Casey Kellum.”

In the future they hope to be able to do a physical and virtual exhibit on the NIH response to the pandemic where our alpaca photo will be included. In the meantime, they plan to soon upload the photo of Tony to their website where it will be viewable by going to their “Search the Collection” page.

About the Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum

The Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum (ONHM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) advances the historical understanding of the biomedical research conducted at the NIH by documenting, preserving, and interpreting the history of significant NIH achievements, scientists, and policies. Among other activities, the office creates innovative exhibits and helps scholars and researchers to navigate the rich history of the NIH.

Source: National Cancer Institute Creator: Chris Spielmann (Photographer)  

Located in Bethesda, MD, on the NIH campus, the office is formally known as the Mary Woodard Lasker Center for Health Research and Education — informally known as “The Cloisters” and “The Convent” because the building once was home to the Sisters of the Visitation of Washington. The building constructed in 1923 is one of the oldest on the NIH campus.  The building has the original rooms, windows, doors, and sayings painted on the walls.  Exhibits and displays are placed around the NIH campus.  They also have various online-only exhibits.

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Mary Riley

Mary Riley

Mary Riley is director of operations for White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, a ministry of the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Prior to her current role, she served as the marketing manager for some ministries of the Sisters of Providence including White Violet Center for Eco-Justice and the Volunteer Services.

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  1. Avatar Janice Smith, SP on August 5, 2020 at 9:11 am

    How exciting for our community to contribute historically during these difficult times in such a significant and life giving way. Thank you for the lovely blog and thanks to all who brought the face of Providence to light with little Tony!!!

  2. Avatar Mary Heins on August 5, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    Such a thoughtful way to name the new alpaca!! It must have brought a smile to Dr. Fauci’s face when he heard about his namesake. And what an honor to have Tony and the Sisters included in the NIH museum!!

  3. Avatar Cathy Campbell, SP on August 13, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    I am delighted we have added Raphael Tony to our Alpaca community. What a great way to say “thanks” to Dr. Fauci for all he is doing to enable the US to be safe amid this pandemic despite the flack he keeps getting. I look forward to hiking out to the pasture on north campus when we can roam more freely. Peace and blessings to all. Sr. Cathy Campbell,SP

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