Ritual Honors Closing of St. Louis Center
By Donna Day
It is true … Community happened here … mission happened here …
hospitality happened here … love happened here.
“It is true — the doors of the past, which opened onto their own special blessings, encourage us to open the doors of the present and the future.” Mary Luke Tobin did not know, of course, that her words from Hope Is an Open Door would be used to begin the ritual celebrating the summer 2017 closing of the St. Louis Center. The ritual, celebrated Dec. 8, 2016, led the residents, Executive Committee, Forum, CPC and guests from the chapel to the Community Room to the Assembly Room to the dining room as participants blessed each room and thanked God for all that happened there. Blessings showered the residents and employees with gratitude and hope for this chapter of their lives and for future days to come.
One’s entire being is reoriented to a particular place, to a deep awareness of the life and spirit of a house. Memories and stories filled the dining room as names and events were shared from table to table remembering those who lived at the Center. Guests expressed gratitude for all the hospitality shown by the residents — Loretto, Sparkill Dominicans, Sister of Christian Charity and Notre Dame members. Welcomed by the hundreds over the years were members of the Loretto Executive Committee/Forum, members of various committees, Assembly participants, Nerinx faculty and students, family, the staff and on and on.
The blessing of the chapel stands out for its poignant words, “This is where we encountered Life itself, in the presence of God and one another. We bless this sacred place, filled with grace of all who prayed here for 54 years. All were welcomed here, nurtured into the life of Jesus through community, Word and Eucharist.”
Guests remembered when 590 was a home for Webster/Nerinx faculty, Province House, the House of Studies, Loretto Tutoring Center, an infirmary for the Lafayette Sisters and finally the Center for a Community of active and semi-active members.
All of the past coordinators had a significant part in the blessing ritual: Mary Jo Heman OP, Rosemary Grawer, Elizabeth Ann Compton, Eileen Kersgieter, Valerie Novak, Sheila Brennan OP and Anthony Mary Sartorius. Not able to attend the ritual was former coordinator Sue Rogers.
An excerpt from “In the Sanctuary of Women” by Jan Richardson was read by Anthony Mary to close the evening:
“I think today is a day for remembering how all our history comes down to our hands,
how we carry the lines that our ancestors pressed into our palms inscribed upon us like a map.
And so let it be that before we leave this place this day we lay our hands upon this ancient terrain in gratitude and praise. And then rising, turn them skyward: a blessing, a benediction, a prayer that the wind will carry far and wide.”