Sister Michaeline with students
By Geoffrey Grubb, PhD, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences
Duns Scotus Library is my favorite place on the Lourdes University campus. The architectural jewel of that space is the Great Window in the west wall of the Library.
One day in the late 1980s, I found myself admiring the window when Sister Michaeline Lesiak, OSF, engaged me in conversation. Sr. Michaeline informed me that she had participated in the design of the window. I was mightily impressed. While the cornerstone on that building reads 1949, she stressed that the window itself was installed in the Library in 1950, after it had been fabricated in a New York City studio.
Sr. Michaeline, who at that time of our conversation was in the midst of cataloguing and describing the art in the Library, went on to say that the window "was a portrait of Mother Adelaide," the foundress of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio. I was quiet for a moment and muttered something like, "Certainly it does present things Mother Adelaide valued, like learning and art." Sr. Michaeline, now in a very insistent – and maybe impatient – voice said, "No, it is a portrait of Mother Adelaide!" It was a graced moment I had with her that day. Since that day, I have never looked at the window in the same way.
Of course, Sr. Michaeline was correct. The window is a portrait of Mother Adelaide.
In recent years, I have had the privilege of speaking with candidate for degrees in the College of Arts & Sciences in the Duns Scotus Library. I have told them what I learned from Sr. Michaeline about the Great Window. But, I have ventured an opinion that I believe, is that the Great Window is a portrait of the Sisters of Saint Francis as well. It has also become, in my estimation, a portrait of the faculty and staff of Lourdes University, people committed to the remarkable quest for community, reverence, learning, and service.
At the end of the presentation, it has become customary to invite the degree candidates to insert their own cultural heritage – West African, Italian, Latino, German, Asian – into the window. They are asked to look again and see whether this is now their portrait as well.
I believe Mother Adelaide and Sr. Michaeline would be pleased to find them there.