The day dawned clear and bright on August 28, as St. Catherine University students, faculty, and staff inaugurated the new academic year with the annual Opening Celebration. This St. Kate’s tradition welcomed both returning students and 1,172 new students across the College for Women, College for Adults, and Graduate College. After a Mass of the Holy Spirit in Whitby’s Jeanne d’Arc Auditorium, the community processed through the flag-lined walk to The O’Shaughnessy for Opening Convocation.
Following a welcome from President ReBecca Koenig Roloff ’76, the audience was treated to a preview of The O’Shaughnessy’s upcoming event, The [uncertain] Four Seasons, conducted by Emily Isaacson, DMA, and featuring Grammy-nominated violinist Jesse Irons. The project reimagines Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons as they might sound impacted by climate change — the cacophonous bursting of a dangerous summer storm, the eerie absence of springtime birdsong in a world of species decline.
“We want to use the arts to make the impact of the climate crisis felt and heard — to present the climate crisis in a way that is not paralyzing, but motivating,” Isaacson said.
Following the musical preview, a panel of St. Kate’s students, faculty, and staff spoke about sustainability. The panel was moderated by Mollie Pierson ’25 and featured Isaacson along with Luul Adam ’27, Student Senate environmental issues chair; Lisa Babbs, director of facilities; Zachary Ludwig, campus minister in the Center for Spirituality and Social Justice; and Anupama Pasricha, PhD, chair of fashion design and merchandising and interim dean of the School of Business. Each panelist shared how they practice sustainability in their life and what motivates them in that pursuit.
Sustainability, as Ludwig pointed out, is a core aspect of St. Kate’s identity as a Catholic institution. “Catholic Social Teaching, one of the main ones, is care for God’s creation,” said Ludwig. “Sustainability in every way we approach it is an excellent way to care for God’s creation.”
The panelists shared ideas of ways to practice sustainability, from composting food waste and buying secondhand clothes to being mindful of energy use at home and at the office. The group challenged listeners to find new practices to incorporate into their lives going forward.
Adam shared, “The core of sustainability is to be cautious how you use your resources. So making wiser decisions and wiser choices in your daily routine can really make a big change. You can be an influence to your friends and family.”
“This journey of learning is just beginning,” President Roloff remarked at the close of the panel. After Convocation, festivities concluded with a picnic on the lawn and the first day of classes got underway. Welcome back, Katies!
For more information on St. Kate’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, visit the Sustainability at St. Catherine University website.