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A Blessing for the Marie Brendan Harvey Auditorium

Note: The following blessing was written and given by Sisters of Providence General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, SP, during the celebration of the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Conservatory of Music and the renaming of the building auditorium to the Marie Brendan Harvey Auditorium.

Together, let us bless this space –

This grand old space just made new through the work of countless hands and by the generosity of numerous friends.

Together, let us bless this space –

This grand old space about to be made new through the reception of a beloved name and by the memories that name invokes.

So, close your eyes now … and bring to mind a memory.

No doubt most of you here tonight hold a memory dear

Of a time when you appeared on this stage and received a diploma or applause;

A time when what unfolded in this space moved you to tears, or filled you with awe or released a guffaw as you sat through a four-star, a concert, or a play.

Bless this space with your remembrance.

And now, for a moment, conjure up an image of Sister Marie Brendan whose Harvey Name and Harvey Fame will now bless this space.

Perhaps she is conducting her beloved Madrigals or Chorale.

Perhaps you are there in the alto section.

Maybe she is singing – no, not Danny Boy –

But “Who shall find a Valiant Woman?” from the Cycle of Psalms.

Sister Marie Brendan Harvey (left) and Sister Francis Angela Kolb (RIP) look over the album “In God’s Providence.”

Bless this space with your remembrance.

Now, open your eyes and your hands – place your hands, palms up in your lap as we continue to bless this space.

To each of the following invocations, please respond:

Bless this house, O Lord, we pray.

May this Marie Brendan Harvey Auditorium, made sacred by all those who have gone before us and shaped its history – Sisters Marie Brendan Harvey, Mary Olive O’Connell, Cecilia Clare Bocard, Frances Angela Kolbe, Marion Cecil Spencer, Cecilia Ann Miller, Martha Steidl, Sue Pietrus; Charles Watson, Denson Elliott, Marion Krajewska – continue to be a place where beauty is created and God is celebrated in music and drama, in story and song. We say:

Bless this house, O Lord, we pray.

May this Marie Brendan Harvey Auditorium, filled with the spirit of hundreds of students, Sisters of Providence, alumnae and friends, continue to be a gathering place where a sense of community is created and a connection to something greater than ourselves is enjoyed. We say:

Bless this house, O Lord, we pray.

May this Marie Brendan Harvey Auditorium and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, both unique in all the world, be the home of virtue, a shrine of knowledge. We say:

Bless this house, O Lord, we pray.

Provident God, continue to bless this house, we pray. Make safe this grand old space with your loving presence by night and day. May its doors be ever open to the joy and love that finds its source in your loving Providence. And bless us all and keep us; may your face shine upon us and be gracious to us; please look upon us kindly and give us, and the people of our world, peace. We ask all these blessings through the intercession of Saint Cecilia and our Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. AMEN. AMEN.

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Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski was elected General Superior of the Sisters of Providence in 2016. She has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. Previously she ministered as a teacher, as communication and development director for the sisters and their ministries and as a member of elected leadership on the general council of the Sisters of Providence.

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  1. Avatar Anne Longtine on November 16, 2023 at 9:42 am

    My life was blessed! I had the privilege of being a music major at The Woods (1960- 964) and spending LOTS of time in the Conservatory – knowing Sister Mary Olive (Mo) , Sister Cecilia Clare (TOO important for a nickname), Sister Francis Angela (Franny Annie), and my dear piano teacher, Sister Cecilia Ann (Cec Ann). And of course, Sister Marie Brendan. Sometimes, I think we in the College Chorale would “mess up” in rehearsal just to hear her sing it as it should be. The beauty of her voice was matched by the beauty of her whole being. Anne Longtine ’64

    • Avatar Sister Mary Montgomery on November 16, 2023 at 3:01 pm

      Wonderful to read the blessing prayer for the recently named Sister Marie Brendan Harvey Auditorium! So meaningful, Sister Dawn! Thank you, Alums, Donors and all who made this renovation happen and the celebration!

  2. Avatar Barbara Wahnsiedler Klein on November 16, 2023 at 2:33 pm

    My time spent with Sr. Marie Brendan was something I will never forget. She brought me through my four years at the Woods and taught me so very much. Her faith in my accomplishments pushed me to do what I never thought possible. She was my surrogate mother at that time in college. God bless her and Sr. Cecelia Ann, Sr. Cecelia Claire, and Sr. Mary Olive who were all at the college during my college years. It was a great time in my life. I have gratefully continued to share my musical abilities with my parish church for the past 50 or so years.
    As an aside – When the Providence sisters decided to not dress in habits, I was the hairdresser for Sr. Jeanne Knorle and Sr. Marie Brendan. Everyone wondered shy I was called to the President’s office on some evenings. That was because Sr. Jeanne needed her hair done before an important meeting the next day. Glad to be of service.

  3. Avatar Marilyn Kofler, SP on November 16, 2023 at 4:53 pm

    Through the years music in abundance has filled this Harvey Auditorium….many iterations of “Danny Boy” still echo in the halls. Memories, too, of summer weekly gatherings in this special space as we sisters found our way home once again to celebrate, to educate and be educated, to renew and grow in friendships as we took a breath and a break between our annual missions. Back in the day, sisters wearing the white cross of gladness graced the steps of this grand building as we moved through the days of the Second Vatican Council. The campus with its historic sites still gives testimony to the legacy of St. Mother Theordore, this Woman of the Forest. But without the sounds coming forth from Harvey Auditorium over the years, these memories would lack the music of our lives, our mission, and our SMWC alums! We owe so much to our sisters who kept the sound of music alive; we owe so much to those students and musicians who continue to keep alive what is so precious to our shared life!

  4. Avatar Fran Froehlich on November 29, 2023 at 9:52 am

    The renaming of the Conservatory in Sr Marie Brendan’s name is wonderful. I share the memories of those who have already commented. I have one additional memory… Sr. Marie Brendan had a wonderful sense of humor. I recall that she particularly enjoyed the joyful antics of Sr. Gilchrist.
    Her love of life came through in her voice.

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