St. Catherine community pays tribute to Minneapolis legacy with stories, prayer, and thanks

Minneapolis campus

On October 21, the St. Catherine University community celebrated the Minneapolis campus and its history, led by Alumni Relations liaison Ruth Haag Brombach ’60; former Minneapolis vice president and academic dean Mary Broderick, RN, PhD; and former Minneapolis associate dean Toné Blechert ’67, OTA, ROH, MAOL’93. The virtual tribute honored the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, students, faculty, and staff who built the Minneapolis site’s enduring legacy as an exceptional educator of generations of healthcare providers.

Watch the recording of the event

“Always ready to serve the needs of the time, the Minneapolis campus directors developed an incredible academic array of mature healthcare programs built on this legacy that will continue to be strong and evolve as they join the other healthcare programs in St. Paul,” said University President ReBecca Koenig Roloff ‘76. “Together, our collective healthcare programs set the standard because we have a reputation for graduating smart, talented, ethical professionals who become leaders and influencers in the healthcare industry.”

The evening event dedicated thanks to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, not only for the foundation of future-thinking they instilled in St. Kate’s, but for their 2017 gift of the Minneapolis property to the University.

“We are deeply grateful to the Sisters for this gift, which has allowed us to combine our two physical campuses and make this transition that will strengthen and grow both our healthcare programs and the University overall,” President Roloff said.

St. Mary's Junior College

"It was not the buildings or location that was most meaningful — what mattered was why and how we were bound together in community. It was our mission born from our shared  values that was, and continues to be, most important as we go forward as One University in St. Paul.”

— Toné Blechert ’67, OTA, ROH, MAOL’93, former Minneapolis associate dean

“A just and holy purpose”

Karen Hilgers, CSJ, ’63 read an original poem (see below) that she co-wrote with Joan Mitchell, CSJ, ’62, St. Catherine University Trustee, in tribute to the mission of those involved in the Minneapolis programs. Broderick and Blechert, both of whom served in various leadership roles on the Minneapolis campus through the years, recounted the history of the Minneapolis site. Broderick and Blechert detailed its winding path, from the CSJs’ arrival in Minnesota during the mid-1800s to the Minneapolis property’s iterations as a school of nursing, college, and finally the official Minneapolis campus of the University. Read more about the history of the Minneapolis campus.

The Minneapolis campus “was filled with meaning for me for over 40 years. It was not the buildings or location that was most meaningful,” said Blechert. “What mattered was why and how we were bound together in community. It was our mission born from our shared  values that was, and continues to be, most important as we go forward as One University in St. Paul.”

Numerous other alumni, staff, and faculty from Minneapolis programs contributed video testimonials, sharing meaningful memories and the impact their time on the Minneapolis campus has had on their lives. 

“I am so grateful for the total experience, but mostly I’m grateful for our students, for all they accomplished as students and then went on to accomplish as nurses [and healthcare professionals],” said Kathleen Hartmann ’62, who taught and served as program director of nursing in Minneapolis for 39 years. “I think of them when I think of my legacy."

In memory of the Minneapolis campus and in honor of its completed integration into the St. Paul campus, a cutting of the Japanese lilacs from the Minneapolis campus has been planted on the St. Paul campus. A section of Old Main’s iconic stained glass windows has been installed in Coeur de Catherine, and various displays and art pieces have accompanied Minneapolis programs to their new homes on the St. Paul campus as well.

The guiding mission of the Minneapolis campus, its programs fully integrated into One University with the St. Paul campus, may be summed up best in the refrain of the opening prayer by Sisters Hilgers and Mitchell, as well as the closing prayer delivered by Susan Hames, CSJ, ’68, and Vice Chair of the St. Catherine University Board of Trustees: “May this place continue to welcome and bless all who come and keep an open door to people in need, a just and holy purpose.”

 


 

Poem & Prayer Celebrating St. Mary’s Junior College

Written by Sr. Joan Mitchell, read by Sr. Karen Hilgers

Over millennia the river carved a home in the limestone hills
to create this promontory where Dakota travelers could pause
at the riverbend and like students later watch the eagles fish and fight
and where in the homesteading, city-building years of a new state
a hospital needed more nurses and planted a school on this bluff,
nurses then as now to face an epidemic, cholera then.
Like the first Sisters of St. Joseph in France, God seized them,
energized them to do all of which women are capable —
to care, to teach, to build.

May this place continue to welcome and bless all who come
and keep an open door to people in need, a just and holy purpose.

Between the wars in the midst of the Depression,
Catherine Moore crossed the Mississippi River,
earned St. Mary’s School of Nursing three-year diploma,
went to work, and mobilized with the nation for war as an army nurse.
She never stopped seeing possibilities for herself,
finishing a BA in nursing at St. Kate’s, law school,
the Sisters of St. Joseph. Do we see a pattern here?
Learn the skills you need to work, learn some more,
bring others with you beyond familiar limits
to creative possibilities. Her attitude permeated the junior college.
The Sister known as A.J., Anne Joachim Moore,
with Tom Schiller and Mary Heinen, CSJ, ’58 reimagined St. Mary’s,
engaging faculty to find ways to teach those who struggled
but often found they liked learning and couldn’t stop.

May this place continue to welcome and bless all who come
and keep an open door to people in need, a just and holy purpose.

Parking at the Minneapolis campus made going to class
a walk in the park and a chance to know the neighbors by name.
In the new building the floor-to-ceiling windows on sixth
welcome sunrise and sunset into the corridor, an invitation
to watch and breathe, to waste a moment feeling happy;
here every inch was sacred space, collaborative learning in progress,
hard-won success, painful challenges for students and faculty,
blind student doing art; seeing students wearing blindfolds,
learning to talk and a liberal arts core to have something to talk about.
In the corridor on the first, the break room, coffee conversations stirred ideas —
holistic health, a master’s program now, wellness,
multicultural rituals, online courses — a learning community creative
and persistent in its mission to provide underserved students a chance
to perform to their potential rather than what their history predicted.
“How could anyone be other than amazed to see the dream
of such a college as ours come to the lively, dynamic,
indeed holy reality that St. Mary’s Junior College is.” — Sr. A.J.

May this place continue to welcome and bless all who come
and keep an open door to people in need, a just and holy purpose.

 


 

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