On a sunny, windswept afternoon on Wednesday, March 14, Marymount College celebrated its founding and the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM), the College’s founding order. Beginning with the Founders Mass, and followed by the presentation of the Founders Award and the blessing of three works of religious art on the Main Campus, the events were a poignant climax to the Founders Week, organized by Fr. Mark Villano and a team of College staff members and students. The week’s events drew attention to the College’s mission, “that all may have life and have it to the full” and also included the Canyon Verde Service Day, a music concert with the Jazz Ensemble and Vox Choir, lectures on religion and public service, and on Catholic education.
Bishop Gordon Bennett, a former member of the Marymount College Board of Trustees, celebrated the Founders Mass in Marymount’s Chapel and later led the prayers and blessings on two prominent statues and a mosaic. “To celebrate Fr. Gailhac is a real honor and it’s wonderful to renew old acquaintances such as Sr. Antoine-Marie,” said Bishop Bennett who is currently in residence at Loyola Marymount University. “I’m so glad to see that the efforts I put in 15 years ago are paying off.” Sr. Antoine-Marie Baurier, a longtime member of both RSHM and Marymount’s faculty, spoke about the history of the RSHM. “Founders Week is giving a chance for everyone on campus to know our sisters and what they’ve accomplished,” said Sr. Antoine-Marie. “It gives the students a little bit of history.”
John Lane, a professor of theatre arts, was presented with the fourth annual Founders Award by Dr. Brophy for his achievements as a 40-year member of Marymount’s faculty. Lane summarized the meaning of the award and his appreciation for the RSHM sisters. “I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to have so many wonderful people help me at Marymount: Dr. Brophy, and before him, Dr. Wood and Dr. McFadden, plus the academic deans, but mostly the love and help from the nuns, who are exceptional human beings,” said Lane. “They helped me to be a better person.”
Sr. Gregory Naddy was Lane’s mentor. “She would always come in to see the first act and then she’d say ‘John, I’m going to go back to the convent and pray for the students to get better,’ and they usually were better.” Lane credited the discipline, integrity and faith of the RSHM. “Marymount became one of the greatest gifts to my life,” he said. “Sr. Antoine-Marie, Sr. Charles, Sr. Eileen and Sr. Teresita were very supportive.”
After the Founders Mass and award presentation, Bishop Bennett led a small procession to each of the three artworks which were restored by designer Rhett Judice and his team. Judice, whose business is the renovation and restoration of church interiors, spoke about the necessary restoration steps for each artwork; this was followed by Bishop Bennett’s blessing, a sprinkling of holy water on the figure, and a prayer.
Beginning with the statue of the RSHM founder, Fr. Gailhac, Judice said that the bas relief statue’s original look was cast concrete. Fr. Gailhac’s relief had been painted several times over the years. Judice’s team removed all of the paint, and heavily sealed the bas relief to prevent moisture from entering the wall. They also removed the twisted piece of copper iron around Gailhac’s neck which had secured the relief to the wall while providing a misleading representation.
Artist Paul Conrad’s magnificent sculpture of the Holy Trinity had been made to look like copper but was, in fact, made of steel with a verde patina applied to make it look like copper. Artist Robert Milling, a member of Judice’s team, sanded down the sculpture and reapplied the patina, layering it for an aged effect. “The artist Robert Milling did such a beautiful job,” said Judice.
Finally, the mosaic of the Blessed Mother was visited in Cecilia Hall. Rhett Judice said that it was difficult to find replacements for the nearly 30 tiles that were missing. Mosaic artist Maya Tavanoti restored the depiction and made the mosaic come alive with the reapplication of colored tile. Fr. Mark mentioned that Sr. Genevieve, an RSHM sister, created the original work. After the mosaic’s blessing, the group of faculty members, students and nuns gathered on the lawn in front of Cecilia Hall for an informal reception that offered petite strawberry custards, organic sandwich wraps from Marymount’s Café Bon Appetit, and a regular dose of wind.