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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Blessing of the Cupola: Dedication Ceremony Woodlands Academy and Barat College Campus Reunited

Barat College Cupola

Blessing of the Cupola

Almighty and everlasting God, may this cupola be a reminder to all that you gave us this land to expand our academy and build a college that carried the name of our foundress, Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat. May this cupola be a place of peace and repose, and may it remind us of the many who have served and studied on these sacred grounds. 

Pictured above l-r: Nancy Kehoe, RSCJ, Cindy Cox, Meg Steele,
Irma Patricia Reiss, RSCJ, Heidi Kuharich, Scott Eisenstein, Barbara Wood-Prince,
Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ and Meg's mother, Tammy Mullen Steele, MC'65

The early morning thunderstorms and the threat of more rain did not seem to dampen the spirits of the attendees who traveled near and far to Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart for a dedication ceremony and open house on Friday, September 18, 2015.  Yes, I did say far, as some attendees traveled from Boston, Indianapolis, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C. just to attend this event.  The following Religious of the Sacred Heart were also in attendance: Susanne Cooke, RSCJ, Director of the Sacred Heart Conference; Martha Curry, RSCJ, Barat alumna and author of the book Barat College: A Legacy, A Spirit and A Name; Woodlands Trustees; Margaret McDonnell, RSCJ and Nancy Kehoe, RSCJ; and Irma Patricia Reiss, RSCJ, Barat alumna aka "Sr. Patsy", Religious of the Sacred Heart in Residence.

Ms. Meg Steele, who began her tenure as Head of School on July 1, 2015 greeted the seated guests outside the former Sr. Madeleine Sophie Cooney Library.  The former Cooney library designed by Dirk Lohan was the last building built in the late 1990's on the campus of Barat College. The college closed in 2005 and all buildings on the original 43 acre site were eventually razed with the exception of the Library. Ironically, I attended the Sister Madeleine Sophie Cooney Library dedication ceremony 18 years prior on September 18, 1997. The 20,000 sq ft. building has been beautifully repurposed and renamed the Gloria Dei Center. The Center will serve both the Woodlands and Lake Forest communities.

The Dedication Ceremony was spilt into two parts -  Part I: Lessons and Prayers and Part II: Blessing of the New, Expanded Campus.  The following were invited to the podium by Head of School, Meg Steele to give either a prayer or lesson:  Mrs. Amy Perlick, Director of the Woodlands Academy Global Education Center; Ms. Madonna Edmunds, Principal; Mrs. Barbara Wood-Prince, Chair, Board of Trustees; Mrs. Mary Gramins, Campus Minister; and Sister Irma Patricia Reiss, RSCJ, Religious of the Sacred Heart in Residence.  Sister Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ, Director of the Sacred Heart Conference gave a celebratory reflection and final blessing of the cupola.  The cupola along with many other (internal and external) parts of the campus were salvaged during the demolition  of the Barat College campus. The restored cupola will rest in a prominent space on the front lawn and be surrounded by a garden.

It was a lovely day despite the cloudy skies and the threat of more rain. It was also a hopeful beginning to bringing this site that in the 19th century, the Fifth Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart, Mabel Digby, RSCJ envisioned would impart a Sacred Heart education to all who stepped foot on this campus in beautiful Lake Forest, Illinois to now be reunited in gratitude, generosity and grace.


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  2. I also attended this dedication ceremony in 2015. I went there from Chicago. The very next day I attended an event at Chicago venues and I was so tired after that. Well, thanks for sharing blog here on this information. Truly admired your write up!!