Bicentennial-Icon painting

In the Spirit of Mary

By Eric F. Spina

My family has never felt more warmly embraced than from the Marianists, who have a way of deeply touching lives.

I recall strolling through campus with Karen for the first time and feeling so comfortable, as though our lives had prepared us for this singular moment — to accept Mary’s call and say “Yes!”

Prospective students are enveloped by that welcoming spirit on the campus tour. Student tour guides tell the University of Dayton story, from their eyes, as they wind families past the MLK memorial, the chapel, and the historic academic buildings that stand as a testament to our heritage.

New faculty, staff and their spouses receive that same warm, meaningful, heartfelt hospitality from the Marianists at new employee dinners, evenings of delicious food, much laughter and storytelling. It’s one of my favorite events of the year because we welcome new members into the family in a way you might invite friends to your home for Christmas dinner.

You sense a pattern here.

Just as Blessed William Joseph Chaminade two centuries ago welcomed an eclectic group of religious and laity — priests, merchants, teachers, even chimney sweeps — into a new religious movement, today we foster community, one relationship at a time. We strive to treat each other as equals and respect the diverse gifts of all. We teach our students, in the Marianist way, to use their faith and knowledge to change the world, starting the hard way — with their own lives.

As we close the celebrations of the Bicentennial of the Marianist sisters and Society of Mary at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 20, with a Mass in the Frericks Center, reception and a sneak peek of the new musical “Spectacle,” I find myself reflecting on the future more than the storied past of this remarkable religious order.

The Bicentennial’s theme, “To know, love and serve,” is a timeless call to build community in a world that needs more unity, more authentic relationships of trust and faith.

As the University of Dayton moves into the future, we hold a special responsibility to model the lives of such courageous heroes as Blessed William Joseph Chaminade and Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon, who inspire us to create a more just world and develop inclusive, welcoming relationships.

Singer and songwriter Nick Cardilino co-wrote “Spectacle,” a new musical about the founding of the Marianists. A few songs will be performed at the Bicentennial closing in preparation for its world premiere April 20-22 in Boll Theatre as a collaboration of the theatre, dance and performance technology program, and department of music.

Perhaps these lyrics from Nick’s song, “Spectacle of Saints,” best inspire us for the journey ahead:

Let's be a spectacle
A spectacle of saints
Show how it’s practical
To build communities of faith
Make it respectable
To trust God’s grace
Let's be a spectacle
A spectacle of saints

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