On May 28, the day the congregation celebrates as its foundation date in 1849, the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi gathered at a Ritual of Gratitude for the closing of one of its ministries, the Marian Center for Nonprofits, formerly St. Mary’s Academy (SMA). In her opening remarks, Sr. Diana De Bruin, director of the congregation, stated:
“We know that this property, and especially where we are standing right now, has had special meaning for many! Some have grown up within these walls and/or shared our talents in a variety of ways. Since 1904, this building has been used in service to so many! We come together today to jointly thank God and celebrate the many ways lives and hearts have been touched on this sacred ground. “
She went on to acknowledge distinguished guests who were present for the event, including The Most Reverend Richard Sklba, Auxillary Bishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of the Milwaukee; The Honorable CoryAnn St. Marie-Carls, Mayor of the City of St. Francis; Ken Tutaj an alderperson for the district; and Debbie Fliss, a former alderperson.
The program included a reflection by Bishop Sklba, and a Scripture reading by Sr. Mary Lea Schneider, past president of Cardinal Stritch University, which had its founding at the location when it was St. Mary’s Academy. Then Linda Mrochinski, president of the SMA Alumnae Association, and Charlane O’Rourke-Hertig, executive director of the Marian Center for Nonprofits, presented a “Litany of Thanksgiving,” followed by remarks from the mayor.
After the closing prayer, attendees were invited to follow bagpiper Gary Byers and the sisters to the front entrance of Loretto Hall for a moment of silent prayer. Self-guided tours were then available until noon, and the SMA Alumnae Association Heritage Room in Rosary Hall was open to visitors until 2 p.m.