By Abby Cole, Comm ’16, communication specialist
A dedication ceremony Wednesday, May 1, brought together students, faculty, staff and community members to honor, welcome and bless the new statue of the Virgin Mary, which stands inside the newly constructed grotto.
Funded by several generous Marquette benefactors, including the Fotsch family, Chemistry Professor Emeritus Norman Hoffman and Marquette alumni Chris and Katie Callen, the grotto is located just behind the St. Joan of Arc Chapel. It is free-standing and designed to engage with the existing Joan of Arc garden elements. The statue of the Virgin Mary faces south and is nestled into a land form, designed to offer a sheltered space for the statue and place for prayerful contemplation.
The location was chosen after Rev. Tom Krettek, S.J., vice president for the Office of Mission and Ministry, and Kurt Young Binter, project manager, facilities planning and management, walked around campus in search of the perfect spot for the grotto. They concluded that placing it near the chapel felt right. “In that spot it will reinforce the special sacredness of that space,” Young Binter said.
Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki blessed the statue at the dedication. Among those who spoke at the event was student Amelle Aldurra, who commented on how the Virgin Mary serves as an example of selfless love and sacrifice. Aldurra noted how the campus community and visitors to Marquette will now be invited to feel Mary’s presence when spending time in this new sacred space. Read Aldurra’s full remarks.
The idea for the grotto came after President Michael R. Lovell completed the 18-month Ignatian Colleagues Program based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Lovell said his idea for the grotto was connected to his final project, titled Sacred Spaces, in which he catalogued the religious spaces and artifacts on campus that communicate Marquette’s Catholic and Jesuit identity.
“Throughout my life, Mary has been a steadying guide and a reminder that Jesus is God, but also human like every one of us. When we take time for reflection, Mary teaches us so much about simplicity, grace and strength,” President Lovell said. “My hope is that this grotto will serve as a special and sacred place of devotion, inspiration and prayer for Marquette students, faculty, alumni and staff for decades to come.”
Take a virtual pilgrimage of all of the sacred spaces on Marquette’s campus that highlight the university’s Catholic, Jesuit identity at marquette.edu/sacred-spaces.
The timing of the dedication coincides with the beginning of the May devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Father Jacques Marquette, for whom Marquette University is named, had a documented devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Historians note that the Jesuit explorer from the late 1600s often placed his travels under Mary’s protection through devotion and prayer.
A slideshow of photos from the dedication has been made available: