Saint Mary’s begins 175th anniversary celebrations
For the duration of the 2019 calendar year, Saint Mary’s is commemorating its 175th anniversary. This Sunday, the day of the Blessed Feast of Fr. Basil Moreau, Saint Mary’s began its year of celebrations with a day of events.
Community members participated in Saint Mary’s Serves, a community-wide service project, followed by a special liturgy at the Church of Our Lady of Loretto and ended the celebrations with the annual Moreau dinner in the Noble Family Dining Hall.
“I am completely overwhelmed at the turnout and the people who participated,” Interim College President Nancy Nekvasil said. “It was students and alums and the sisters that participated, and faculty and staff, which is incredible. I don’t even know if any of us actually expected that many people.”
Saint Mary’s Serves included various service projects, including hygiene kits for the Dismas House and memory books for the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Nekvasil said.
“We gathered for Saint Mary’s Serves; there was a wonderful turnout,” Nekvasil said. “I don’t know how many of you were able to be there, but it was really incredible and it was just an amazing show of the community gathering together.”
Sophomore Jackie Rojas attended all three events and gave the second reading during Mass. Rojas said the service projects at Saint Mary’s Serves were completed well before the official end time for the event due to the amount of turnout from the community.
“[Saint Mary’s Serves] was really nice. I actually got there at 1 [p.m.], and by the time I got there, most of the projects were almost done. It was great because it started at 12:45 p.m,” Rojas said. “It was really nice to see so many community members there, and many of the staff and professors that I knew brought their children. Just seeing everyone together was really nice, and just being able to accomplish the projects so quickly.”
Rojas was a member of the subcommittee that assisted in the planning of the liturgy. However, she was not chosen to give the reading until after the fall semester ended, she said.
“I was there when we chose the reading and everything, but they didn’t ask me to initially read it,” Rojas said. “I thought they were going to find a sister that spoke Spanish to do it, and it wasn’t until [winter] break that Regina [Wilson, director of campus ministry,] emailed me and asked me if I wanted to read. I was so excited. … It’s an honor, and I am very happy to be able to do it.”
Seeing the members of the Saint Mary’s community come together for the day’s three events, Rojas said, captures the character of service the College promotes.
“I feel like [the opening event] embodies Saint Mary’s because it has the three important characteristics of coming together to serve to do something for the community, coming together to give thanks and then finally to be able to share a meal and just spend time together on this wonderful day,” Rojas said.
At the dinner honoring Fr. Basil Moreau, president of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross Sister Veronique Wiedower, C.S.C., spoke to attendees in the character of Mother M. Angela Gillespie, C.S.C.
Mother Angela was an important figure in the history of Saint Mary’s. As superior of Saint Mary’s Academy, Mother Angela transferred the school from Bertrand, Michigan, to the College’s present location of Notre Dame, Indiana. Mother Angela also organized a corps of Sisters of the Holy Cross to care for the wounded soldiers during the Civil War, Nekvasil said.
In character as Mother Angela, Wiedower recognized the passion of the women of Saint Mary’s in the room.
“I look out and see the beautiful women and students of Saint Mary’s,” Wiedower said. “Women anxious to discover themselves and their place in the world, as one of my good Sisters, Madeleva Wolff, would say. Thank you for opening your minds and hearts to the wonders of an education that Saint Mary’s offers. Thank you for the efforts you are making to become good citizens, so needed in today’s world. You know the importance of educating your hearts to the value of the common good.”
Nekvasil said that it is the ideals that the Sisters brought to the College that enabled the institution to successfully reach its 175th year.
“I just think that’s remarkable, just the vision that these sisters had, and here we are still today,” Nekvasil said. “It’s very humbling, and well, [Wiedower] said it. It’s really just God’s providence that Saint Mary’s is still here.”