Faculty, staff, students, alumni, benefactors, trustees, Sisters of Notre Dame and friends of Notre Dame College gathered on Sept. 17 under a large tent on campus to celebrate the centennial of the college.
The event also marked the beginning of Beyond 100, a $14 million capital campaign, headed by Ray Murphy. The initiative will pump $10 million into scholarships enabling more students an opportunity to attend NDC and another $4 million to upgrade and renovate parts of the campus.
“We gather in a very special way to praise God and honor the faith-filled and dedicated religious women of the Sisters of Notre Dame who established Notre Dame College 100 years ago – a special place for all of us,” said Bishop Edward Malesic, celebrant of the Mass.
He shared the college’s origins, noting it grew from a letter written on March 26, 1922, by Mother Mary Cecilia to Bishop Joseph Schrembs, fifth bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland. She was seeking permission to establish a college for women and the bishop quickly approved.
“Today, Notre Dame College stands as a beacon on a hill, providing a private, Catholic, student-oriented, mission-focused, values-based, academically excellent, liber arts education building character and career for women at first, and now for men, too,” Bishop Malesic told those gathered for the liturgy.
“What I have come to learn as I travel around to parishes, schools and other places of ministry throughout the diocese is the rich history and positive effect that communities of religious women have had in Northeast Ohio,” the bishop said. “Women make a difference. Our religious sisters have made a huge difference. The Sisters of Notre Dame have made a remarkable difference – a positive difference for so many. We are blessed to have the Sisters of Notre Dame in our diocese and this college is blessed to have them as your founder. This college continues their tradition of educational service and excellence in the example of Jesus, the supreme teacher,” he added.
The bishop added his thanks to the sisters, Michael Pressimone, NDC president, the board of trustees, administration, faculty, staff and benefactors for their support of the institution.
“Today, Notre Dame College remains as an anchor for the community and a beacon of light and hope here on Green Road (in South Euclid), reflecting the light and hope of Jesus Christ in the lives of young and old alike,” Bishop Malesic said, expressing his thanks to the sisters and others who work to sustain and extend their vision of higher education. “This college is built on the rock of the faith of those women. It is not built on sand,” he added.
Reflecting on the Gospel, the bishop said it was taken from the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, noting Jesus taught with authority and told those listening that “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock.”
He reminded us that true religion must not simply be practiced by reciting or praying within churches, “If we have transformed minds, we must also go out to renew the world. We must be like leaven in our society,” he said. “We must learn how to live the Gospel in public, not just read the Gospel as part of our private spiritual lives. May what is heard and learned in the halls of NDC make a difference in our world. May the Catholic foundation of this college make a difference for the heart of love we bring into our communities.”
The bishop said he was “deeply grateful for the work of the college, forming people to become virtuous, faith-filled individuals who bless our community with the knowledge they absorb from their instructors, professors, mentors and others who make up the Notre Dame College community.” He said he is praying that they will continue to be a living community, an active, welcoming, responsible community valuing everyone.
He told the group that Pope Francis said Catholic education and formation are more important than ever in this age that is awash in in information often shared without wisdom or critical sense. As educators, he said they “are called to nurture the desire for truth, goodness and beauty that lies in the heart of each individual so that all may learn how to love life and be open to the fullness of life” and he supports this calling.
“Go help people to be the best that they can be. Go form minds that know the truth, live the truth and defend the truth. Go and make disciples of God – those who know that they are loved by their creator who understand that they are given a purpose in this world, and believe that they are destined for eternity.”
After Mass, the group saw a video recapping the history of the college and sharing testimonials about its mission and ministry. Pressimone told the group that they use care and compassion to help students complete their education.
Murphy shared information on the capital campaign noting, “As a fifth-generation Clevelander who loves this city, I am committed to giving back to the underserved.” Himself a product of Catholic education, Murphy added, “We’re being offered a rare opportunity to put our money where our mouths are. This campaign is about the future,” he said, noting he and his wife “will make an extraordinary gift to this cause.”
Pressimone reminded the group that NDC began with 24 students and at first served German immigrants. Things are much different and diverse now, he noted, adding he remains committed to the college’s mission.
“Every day I am filled with hope for the future of our students,” he said.
For more information on the Beyond 100 campaign or to donate, contact Culeen Carey at 216-373-5335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.