Centennial Remarks

Rev. Thomas B. Curran, O.S.F.S. Rockhurst University Centennial Dinner Sept. 25, 2010

Story Corps is a national (non-profit) program whose intent is to collect the stories of 60,000 Americans from across the fifty states. This Mobile Booth Tour is currently crisscrossing our country. At the moment, the Airstream trailer that houses the program is parked just a few blocks from here. It will remain there for the next week. The objective of this project is to “collect stories of courage, kindness and heroism in our country” and ultimately archive them in the Library of Congress. How fitting that this national project is currently in our backyard as we recall Rockhurst’s story over these first one hundred years.

Stories remind us that people and their lives matter. We continue to tell the stories so that the lives are not forgotten.

As we gather to celebrate our Centennial, it’s a time to recall our stories as individuals, as an institution, as a community, and as a people of faith. The Rockhurst Story has so many dimensions:

It’s a story of imagination and intelligence- The commitment to depth, universality and learned ministry has always been at the heart of a school whose shield itself references the book of Proverbs stating Wisdom has built herself a home.

It’s a story of transformation – Here many have been turned on to lifelong learning. Here, they were given tools to help construct a way to think and a way to live.

It’s a love story- Here many students met their spouses and now are sending their children and grandchildren to Rockhurst.

It’s a story of lifelong friendships – Here bonds were formed that are displayed in being present at significant moments such as weddings, being asked to be godparents, and consoling family members at the times of death and misfortune.

It’s a story of partnerships - Rockhurst and Research College of Nursing have been attending to the health needs of our community for over thirty years

It’s a story of historic changes – This enterprise began as a high school. Two institutions shared this campus until 1962....

and then in 1970, Rockhurst became coed and today, women constitute 60% of the student population.

It’s story of Jesuits – Names such as Dowling, Cahill, Conway, Van Ackeren, Doyle, Denzer, Daues, Gough, Freeman, Weiss, Ims, Casey, Lakas, Wheeler, Rashford, Oldani, Bredeck, Byrne, LaCroix, Brady, Blumeyer, Kinerk, Savage, Smith, are just a few of the men in the Black Robes who envisioned this enterprise in higher education for the greater glory of God.

It’s a story of leadership- providing the community, region and nation with bright, ethical and actively engaged members in every sector including medicine, law, industry, labor, politics, religion, and social welfare.

It’s a story of hopes and dreams as we recall the collegiate education of first generation European immigrants and now commit ourselves to stand as a beacon of welcome for the new immigrants.

As children, we learn early how captivating and powerful stories are. It prompts us to request, “Please tell me a story.” Many of the stories have us hearing how “they lived happily ever after.” Tonight, our story is one that seeks to be timeless. In a way, it’s a never ending story.

We are grateful for our past, optimistic about our future while being firmly rooted in the blessings of this present moment.

At this moment, we are a financially sound academy, rooted in our mission, directed by a strategic plan, and pursuing a twenty year master plan with ambitions for new programs, facilities and resources for our faculty and staff. The resources have and will continue to come from those who share in the telling of the story.

Yes, this is our story. And we need to stick to it so it is not forgotten. And we need to share it as we have been doing this weekend and we will continue to do so on Monday, the fourth day, as it were. Great stories matter and cannot be forgotten.

The first hundred years have given us much to celebrate. Now we begin the next chapter in a story that will have its moments of imagination, intelligence, mystery, history, faith, transformation, romance and hope.

We begin this next chapter as we have begun all of our chapters as contemplatives in action seeking to find God in all things by fully engaging the world which we perceive as good and capable of being made better.

May God continue to bless our Catholic, Jesuit enterprise in higher education and may we always rely upon God to bring this story to its completion.