By Marc Tumeinski, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theology & Program Director of Graduate Theology

Our spaces can to some degree influence us, including our sense of self, our understanding of what is important and what we are capable of, knowledge of our history, our emotions and behaviors, and even our relationships. As students, staff, and faculty, we may spend years among the buildings, pathways, and natural spaces here at Anna Maria. Take a walk across our beautiful College campus and we are invited by what we see to contemplate the joy and charism of the Sisters of Saint Anne. There are multiple signs of Catholic faith and reminders of the Catholic intellectual tradition which has informed the educational mission of the Sisters since their founding in 1850, and of Anna Maria College since 1946. The charism of Mother Marie-Anne was to follow Jesus and to share Christ’s mission as Educator, motivated by the desire “for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.” This desire is echoed in the College theme of pursuing ‘something greater,’ and reminds us that the spirituality of the Sisters is rooted in the tradition of discernment and renewal established by St. Ignatius of Loyola. The College was planned to offer a liberal education that “enlightened the intellect in truth, strengthened the will in good, and elevated the heart through love.” We see these same elements written into our current mission and values.

The Madore Chapel is the spiritual heart of the campus, where the Mass is celebrated, and prayers are offered for the College and the world. Sr. Bernadette Madore was the fourth President of the College and earned a PhD in Biology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. The name of Trinity Hall reflects the distinct Christian understanding of the one God in three Persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Look in the classrooms and on the campus buildings for the crosses and crucifixes, powerful signs of the merciful love of Christ Jesus and of the hope that sustained Mother Marie-Anne.

The Sisters of St. Anne are clearly inspired by the example of Anne, the mother of Mary, but also by the example of Mary herself, who is the mother of Jesus. Consider the presence on our campus of St. Anne Hall, Madonna Hall (Madonna is one of the titles of Mary, and means ‘Our Lady’), the statue of Mary in Trinity Hall, and the two Marian shrines, one in front of Socquet House and the other behind the football field.

Foundress Hall places Blessed Marie-Anne Blondin at the center of our institutional memory and reminds us of the powerful vision that led eventually to the creation of Anna Maria College. Cardinal Cushing Hall honors Archbishop (later Cardinal) Richard Cushing of Boston who gave early support to the Sisters of St. Anne in their efforts to start a College in Marlboro. Socquet House recognizes Sr. Irene Socquet who earned a PhD in Chemistry from the Catholic University of America and was the second President of Anna Maria.

St. Joseph Hall is the Science Building and provides a concrete manifestation of one of the values of the College: “Drawing upon the Catholic intellectual tradition, the academic environment provides students an education that honors faith and reason as complementary paths of wisdom in the search for truth and meaning.” St. Joseph is the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus.

Mondor-Eagen Library honors two key figures in the history of Anna Maria–Sr. Eva Mondor with a Licentiate in Pedagogy from the University of Montreal and the first president of the College; and Sr. Rose Isabel Eagen who earned a PhD in English literature from the University of Ottawa. The Payer Concert Hall in Miriam acknowledges the contributions of an early music faculty member of the College, Sr. Jeannette Payer.

The dedication, hard work, high educational achievement, compassion, imagination, and vision of the Sisters of St. Anne remain powerful gifts that continue to inspire us in carrying the College mission forward while building on the legacy we have inherited.

The above ‘tour’ offers just a slice of our space and history; much more remains and deserves to be discovered and remembered, such as the Bishop Flanagan Campus Center and the Jacques Conference Room as well as the many paintings, statues and sculptures displayed around campus. Allow me to end with an invitation to contemplate our roots the next time you walk across campus to get to class, to find a moment of silence and prayer in the chapel, to eat in the campus center, or to take a walk around the pond and woods behind Socquet House. The buildings and places which make up our academic home help to embody our mission: As a Catholic institution inspired by the ideals of the Sisters of St. Anne, Anna Maria College educates students to become individuals who will transform their world as ethical leaders and community-oriented professionals.