Before Villa’s 2019 Heritage Days concluded, the College planned a particularly special event that honored a Felician Sister who played a pivotal role at the institution for half a century.
On Wednesday, October 9, the College community welcomed former president Sister Marcella Marie Garus back to campus for the presentation and dedication of a meditation garden that was installed on campus in her honor. Garus , who began working at Villa in 1968, served as a business administrator for 10 years before being appointed the College’s third president, a role she held for 40 years. She officially retired in June 2018 after serving Villa Maria College faithfully for 50 years.
“Everyone, from the admins, to the business office, to campus ministry, to the bistro, bookstore, housekeeping, maintenance, admissions and financial aid, faculty, vice presidents and president wanted to honor you for your 40 years leading us here at Villa,” said Jesse Walp, professor of interior design and art shop supervisor. “We wanted to make something to always remember you by, so we decided to create a garden.”
“We wanted to create a place of reflection; a place of contemplation, and meditation. You’ll notice these 5 stones have the core values of the college on them,” continued Walp. “These are the values that lead you and inspired you through your 50 years at the institution and 40 years as president. We hope this garden will inspire others to follow your same path.”
Walp’s speech was followed by a short prayer service.
“Today we gather as a Villa family to dedicate this place of “living stones” to commemorate the dedicated service of Sister Marcella Marie Garus,” said Father Augustine Ayaga, who led the service. “We want to also remind ourselves that together we each play our part like the stones put together to create this beautiful place, we build a vibrant Villa community.”
After the prayer service, Sister Marcella addressed the crowd.
“I didn’t want a present for my retirement, but this is just so wonderful,” said Garus. “Now there is a living remembrance here, not just of me but of all of you – all the people who make this college as great as it is. I just love you all. For time to time, when things get hectic, bring a bench over here and do a little meditating. We’ve got a wonderful mission, wonderful core values and this brings it all together. Thank you for this honor and keep up the good work.”
The garden, which was installed on the grassy area in the middle of campus between Felician Hall and the Main Building, is a circular arrangement of bricks. Among the bricks are stones with each of the College’s core values inscribed on it. The garden, which was placed in the middle of the circle of bricks, is home to a tree that came from Rome, Italy, and other flowers. While many people contributed to the garden’s design, it was finalized by Professor Walp, who then worked with John Czyz from the College’s maintenance department to install it.
More photos of the meditation garden and the dedication prayer service can be found here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmHBaVpL.