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College begins new convocation tradition

Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared in print on Aug. 19.

As both new and returning students arrive on Saint Mary’s campus this week, they will take part in several long-standing tri-campus traditions. Namely, the first walk down the Avenue, first-year movie night, the first-year BelleFest — which includes music, games and raffles — and DomerFest, where the first-years of the tri-campus meet and bond. 

Starting this year, Saint Mary’s students will also have another Welcome Weekend tradition. Over the summer, College President Katie Conboy sent an email to the Saint Mary’s community introducing fall Convocation. 

“This event is an opportunity to cheer in (literally!) our new transfer and first year students and to pin each other with your very own class pin,” Conboy said in the email to students.

Fall Convocation will occur annually on the Sunday afternoon before classes begin. The ceremony will recognize award recipients and gather students together before the start of the semester. The event replaces the spring Convocation. 

Executive director of retention strategies Mona Bowe noted the importance of gathering the Saint Mary’s community at the beginning of the new academic year.

“The idea came from the opportunity to have one single event where we could bring all of our students and our faculty and staff together before the academic year started,” Bowe said. 

Bowe acknowledged that fall Convocation would also provide the opportunity to connect new students with the rest of the campus. 

“We do a lot of events to bring the first-year students and the transfers together, but we didn’t have a single event where we could bring the community together. So we’re building community and we’re welcoming the new class,” Bowe said. 

The inaugural Convocation will take place Sunday in O’Laughlin Auditorium from 4:30 to 6 p.m. All are invited to join and cheer on their fellow Belles.

During the event, the recipients of the 2022 Saint Catherine Medal and the Spes Unica and Maria Pieta awards will be recognized. 

The Saint Catherine Medal is awarded to a rising junior or senior who has demonstrated high standards of personal excellence in scholarship, leadership, faith and service — the values of Kappa Gamma Pi, the national Catholic college graduate honor society that sponsors this award. Saint Catherine has long served as an inspiration for individuals who aspire to obtain knowledge and to stand their ground against the constraints placed upon them, thus inspiring the award. 

The other two awards, the Spes Unica and Maria Pieta awards, both recognize Saint Mary’s faculty members. 

The Spes Unica Award recognizes a faculty member who has performed eminent service to the College. Contributions can be in the area of teaching, scholarship, creative activity or service in higher level courses.   

The Maria Pieta Award was established in 1976 in honor of Sister Maria Pieta, who taught and served as an administrator at Saint Mary’s College. “The award recognizes the quality of teaching done in courses for freshman and sophomores”, Bowe said.

For the event, students are asked to wear a certain color based on their class year. Seniors and alumni are asked to wear the color blue, with juniors wearing yellow, sophomores wearing purple and first-years wearing red. In addition, any faculty or staff attending Convocation are encouraged to wear Saint Mary’s spirit wear.

As an added incentive to attend Convocation, all Saint Mary’s students who participate will receive a voucher to exchange for an exclusive T-shirt at this year’s Belles Bash.

Meghan Lange

Contact Meghan at mlange03@saintmarys.edu