Members of the St. Thomas community gathered Thursday outside the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas for a ceremonial groundbreaking of construction on the Iversen Center for Faith and renovation of the chapel.
President Julie Sullivan and others marked the occasion by acknowledging the rich history and tradition of the chapel over the past 100 years, and celebrating a future with a revitalized spiritual center of St. Thomas.
“This is a really meaningful celebration for me and many; I’m grateful and humbled you’re part of it. This project is close to my heart. I’m grateful to the people who have worked diligently to make it a reality,” Sullivan said of the first major construction project in her six-year tenure as president. “We are deeply grateful to all of our donors, and truly awed by the generosity of this community that we could raise the funds to complete this project with the scope it deserves.”
More than 200 donors have contributed to the chapel being 100 percent funded by philanthropy, including many generous naming donors: Luigi ’85 and Nicole Bernardi; Mark ’79 and Debra Gregg; Alfred ’50 and Mary Hoedeman; Al and Brenda Iversen; Rory ’86 and Rhonda ’88 O’Neill; the Schoeneckers Foundation; Ron and the late Jean Regan, and Premier Bank; and Catherine ’88 and Peter ’93 Szyman.“It means so much to me to be able to do this,” Brenda Iversen said. “That young people can walk in here and get to know the Lord, and when they’re feeling they’re finite and things are hard and they don’t know where to turn, they can come here and know the Lord will help them with all that they do.”
Father Larry Blake, Rev. Medhat Yoakiem, Dr. Sadaf Shier and Rabbi Amy Ariel led a prayer for everyone gathered.
“In writing Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II gave us a picture of what a Catholic university should look like: It should provide for the spiritual needs of all its students, no matter what faith they profess,” said Father Larry Snyder, vice president for mission. “As we break ground on the Iversen Center for Faith, we will do just that.”