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Center celebrates 25 years

Brittany VanSnepson | Monday, August 31, 2009

The Saint Mary’s Center for Spirituality has reached its 25th year while battling obstacles, making improvements and focusing on future education based on the interaction between reason and faith.

A special symposium will be held on Oct. 8 and 9, in memorandum of the life of Monika K. Hellwig, the first Madeleva lecturer.

“When the Center started, the first program was quietly established as the Madeleva Lecture Series,” director Dr. Kathleen Dolphin said.

Hellwig’s career as a theologian brought about advances for the Center by inspiring both the academic study of spirituality as well as implementing it as a way of life. She did so through the Madeleva Lecture Series.

Since the Center has been in the public eye since 1984, it has moved to a new building, transitioned under the care of a new directors and has seen an endless number of Saint Mary’s students pass through its doorways.

With the Center’s first funding, donated by the Sisters of Holy Cross, the Center for Spirituality became the first establishment of its kind in the United States. Under the lead of Keith Egan, the first director, spirituality was introduced as having an academic component, Dolphin said.

“What started out on a smaller scale,” Dolphin said, “has become very successful.”

Evidence of Dolphin’s statement can be found in the recently funded Quest Project, a program that sponsors events that stress the importance of a healthy relationship between the spirit and the mind.

The Center’s goals for the future are to become less of an external face to the students and more of a resource to the public. Ultimately, the Center hopes to capture the students’ attention and acquaint them with what is going on in the Center.

“We want to ask the students the question,” Dolphin said, “can you be a critic and a believer at the same time … and our answer is yes.”

In order to commemorate the Center’s beginning, Dolphin will be hosting a series of activities. The first will be an open house on Sept. 10 on the first floor of Spes Unica from 3 to 5 p.m.

A lecture will be held the following Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Vander Vennet Theatre, where speaker Kathleen Sprows Cummings, a history professor at Notre Dame, will discuss “Reflections on Catholicism, Feminism, and History.”