On March 10, 2021, the General Administration of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross gathered in Bertrand Hall with Saint Mary’s College President Dr. Katie Conboy and members of her cabinet to complete the long-awaited transfer of Congregation property to the college.
Sister M. Veronique (Wiedower), CSC, Congregation president, and Dr. Conboy successfully completed the sale transaction, which officially transfers ownership of Bertrand Hall, Bertrand Annex, Lourdes Hall and the Bertrand parking lot to Saint Mary’s College. The Congregation has taken this step to use their resources responsibly and to remain true to their commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050.
In 1855, Mother Angela Gillespie organized the Congregation’s great move from Bertrand, Michigan, to the Saint Mary’s campus in Notre Dame, Indiana. Bringing existing students along, they continued with their first educational ministry that would one day become Saint Mary’s College. Bertrand Hall was originally known as Saint Mary’s Academy (or The Academy) and housed the entire school from 1862 to 1904, and therefore holds special significance for both parties.
“For more than 165 years, the sisters have held these building in what Sister M. Madeleva (Wolff), CSC, described as the relaxed grasp—we hold and cherish without grasping, so that we are ready to let go when it is time to take on the new gift,” said Sister Veronique. “Today we let go and hand these buildings over to Saint Mary’s College for them to hold for God’s service.”
Bertrand Hall was quickly expanded from 1864 to 1865 with the Music Hall, later to become Bertrand Annex. In this space, women had the opportunity to study and explore music and art and experience the powerful connection of truth and beauty. In 1871, construction began on Lourdes Hall to house the growing Congregation and student body. Over 165 years, the three buildings have served both entities in various ways.
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“Today truly represents a win-win arrangement,” said Dr. Conboy. “The college has a new strategic plan and will use the buildings to expand its campus footprint. And I’m sure the sisters will use the revenues to support their expanding global footprint.”
With this sale, the Congregation will do exactly that. By responsibly managing the building resources at Saint Mary’s, they can continue to expand their global work in Africa, Asia, North America and South America. The momentous shift follows the calls of Pope Francis’ encyclicals Laudato Si' and Fratelli Tutti, which compel us to care for our common home by recognizing our impact on the environment and by living globally as brothers and sisters as we support and care for one another.