Our Lady of Victory Chapel is a haven for spirituality and connection for St. Catherine University students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members alike. Since the moment its iconic doors opened in 1924, generations of St. Kate’s graduates have shared enduring memories of the Chapel as a profoundly religious center, the setting for landmark St. Kate’s moments such as Commencement, and a beloved community locale. It is then fitting, indeed, that one of the campaign pillars focuses on restoration of this cherished space that has been restorative for so many.
“I love to sit in the Chapel when I need to find my peace, stay there just for a few minutes and breathe,” says Sylvie Guezeon MBA’22. The Chapel provides a rejuvenating space for students, as well as activities and programming through the Center for Spirituality and Social Justice — where Guezeon works — encouraging them to grow in community with one another. “It helped me to connect with students that I would have not otherwise been able to know.”
Photos by Rebecca Slater '10 / By Rebecca Studios.
Preserving the Chapel as a core aspect of the St. Kate’s experience for students like Guezeon is dear to the hearts of donors such as Kate Nigon Dienhart ’75.
As the site of her wedding, her daughter’s wedding, and her granddaughters’ baptisms, the Chapel “has a strong and special place in our family’s history,” says Dienhart, whose gift sponsors one of the same pews that held family and friends at these special events. “Having a strong college education has given us the foundation for successful careers and family life, and we think it’s important that everybody do what they can to pay it forward.”
The Chapel played an equally meaningful role in the lives of alumnae donors Jeanne Madigan ’56 and Nancy Parlin ’56. Childhood friends, the two first attended grade school together, and then went on to Derham Hall High School, then located on the St. Kate’s campus. Together, they completed their educational paths at the then-College of St. Catherine. Between Mass, special events, and the library located in the building basement at the time, “we were in the Chapel almost every day,” Parlin says. “It was very much a part of all eight years — a long period of attachment.”
Though post-college life led Madigan all around the country and eventually to North Carolina, where she retired, she and Parlin have remained in touch. The campaign provided a beautiful way for them to honor their lifelong friendship and the Chapel’s prominent role in their time at St. Kate’s. Both alumnae have made gifts in the names of the Parlin and Madigan families, sponsoring windows right next to each other that will help preserve both the beauty of the Chapel in which they spent so much time over the years and shine light on new lifelong friendships that are just beginning.
“It’s a small drop in the bucket, but I can only hope that my contribution, along with all the others, can keep St. Kate’s going on and on into the future,” says Madigan. “It’s all for the future of the coming generations.”
“The generosity of donors like Nancy, Jeanne, Kate, and so many others is key to making the repairs that will keep the Chapel a constant in the lives of St. Kate’s students and community members for another 100 years,” says Sharon Howell, CSJ, director of the Center for Spirituality and Social Justice.
Inset portraits by John Michael Simpson.
Chapel photo by Rebecca Slater '10 / By Rebecca Studios.