When the Marywood Academy Class of 1966 met to celebrates its quinquagenary on the weekend of 27 August 2016, one classmate asked if there is still Truth at Marywood now that Veritas Hall is divided into storage warrens. Thirty-two classmates “saw the people gather” for the weekend. The Internet shows that our Tiger Lily, Belinda Barnes, came the farthest at 4,281 kilometers.
Upon my graduation from stewardess training, Mom gave me a pin, a guardian angel that sat on my shoulder. She said it was to remind me that I am a “Marywood Girl.” What is a Marywood Girl? Cathie Andrea’s question about truth is a typically literate MG query. During a dinner speech, one classmate made a MG posit: “That is not the proper use of a gerund, is it?” On a tour of the facilities, we were shown a donated piece of art.Three classmates closest to the sculpture remarked, almost simultaneously, “That is reminiscent of Bufano.” During the weekend as we visited the homes of some of our local classmates, we were comfortable in rooms full of books and art and caring chatter, versions of our MG spaces in other parts of the world.
Festivities began on Friday evening at the home of the event organizer, Martha Pursley Peabody, who spent the last year reaching out to the 59 living classmates. We hugged. We laughed. We ate. We teased in the warm community Marty created for us.
We met at the Dominican Center on Saturday morning to share memorabilia (why did they make us wear
those ugly uniforms?!?), for brunch, and for more hugs and laughs. Sisters Mary Navarre and Lucille Janowiak (formerly our math and religion teacher, Sister Stanley) carried us into the afternoon. Sister Mary looked into the history of the class of 1966 and, as if playing the role of Shakespeare’s Fool, teased us about our early 1960s era youthful choice of a class song, “No Man Is an Island.” Man?!? Obviously we did not know a revolution was occurring for women off-campus. Sister prompted us to think about our years at the Academy, how they shaped us, and how a woman with that background adapts to the 21 st Century. Sister Mary talked about Marywood today, an inclusive community. The chapel she showed us is not the chapel we knew. Gone are the barriers, physically and intellectually. We listened with memories of high school art classes, filtered now by the sensibilities of 2016. Sister Lucille answered our questions about her life post ’66. She also showed us a Power Point created to explain the evolution of The Prairie Habitat at Marywood, homage to the Michigan that was once prairie land. From Marty’s narration, we learned that volunteers created a home for pollinators, a preservation for threatened species, a viable seed bank, a space for contemplation, and an area for native plants that welcomes wildlife.Perhaps they also “plant the seed of friendship that will never die” of which we sing in our class song. Note: Had that habitat existed in 1966, the girls would have been working in dresses, not slacks. Sister Lucille gave up a family celebration to celebrate with us, to listen to what we had to say, and to take us on a tour of the halls of the Academy as it exists today. Along the way, she heard whispers of, “The floors are the same,” “Remember when we …,” “I don’t remember that,” “Oh, did we do that,” and “Oh, yes; you did!” After the talks and tours at Marywood, we gathered to hug, to laugh, to eat, and to chat away the afternoon in the home and garden of Marcia Boehm Carbines. It was hard to tear ourselves away but we knew Marty had arranged more for us back on campus.
The evening began with hugs, laughter and hors d'oeuvres in the sunlit Aquinata Hall Atrium. The sounds of our senior class play emanated from a DVD player. We then moved to the Dominican Center for more hugs and laughs, another menu planned by Marty Pursley Peabody , and tables decorated by Peter Pan—er—Mary Celeste Stewart with flowers, embroidery, and a DVD recording of our senior play at each place. Paul Yhouse, who worked backstage and later married our classmate Liz Orlyk, made the original DVDs for the cast members several years ago when he held a memorial for Liz. Classmate Sister Phyllis Klonowski recited a blessing. Mary Orley Roper read a list of the seven classmates who already crossed. Joni “JIBBER” Beemsterboer read notes from classmates who sent missives regretting they could not join us. After Sister Lucille took a photo of the attendees, several broke into an impromptu rendition of the class song “No Man Is an Island,” just as we did that evening 50 years ago on closing night of “Peter Pan.” This time, with Sister Mary’s Shakespearean teasing in mind, the lyrics changed in a manner Joan Baez would approve: “…We need one another, So I will defend, Each [one] as my [sister], Each [one] as my friend. I saw the people gather, I heard the music start, The song that they were singing, Is ringing in my heart. No [one] is an island …”
Those classmates who stayed in town met in small groups on Saturday evening and subsequently. Several attended Sunday Mass in the chapel at The Dominican Center. The sermon of the day was about an event when a usurper sat in the place of honor. The Class of 1966 may have squirmed although we knew the “RESERVED” signs on the seats were actually meant for us.
Is there Truth at Marywood now that Veritas Hall is a storage space? If truth is “conformity to fact or actuality,” Marywood meets the definition in 2016, evidenced in its embrace of all people at its Masses, within its walls, and its erection of the Prairie Habitat as tribute to our threatened environment. And what is a Marywood Girl, anyway? The Academy Class of 1966 portrays her as an erudite woman who hugs, who laughs, who sings, and who cares about community. We thank Marty Pursley Peabody and the women of The Dominican Center for bringing Truth and The Marywood Girls together on the weekend of 27 August 2016.