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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

Century old Mary statue arrives at University

There was a feeling of anticipation and excitement within the offices of our Institute for Pastoral Initiatives. At long last, a statue of Mary was set to arrive and remain permanently in the entrance lobby of Daniel J. Curran Place.

“For everybody who walks through these doors, they’ll become immediately aware we are a Catholic, Marianist institution,” said Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, Director of the Institute and co-collaborator on the project. “It will form a bridge from our main campus, not to mention our historic identity and mission, to this building, and will allow for integration, interaction and contemplation.  

At about 5-foot, 6 inches, and weighing nearly 1,000 pounds, the statue arrived neatly wrapped in protective plastic, covered delicately in a soft, blue, packing blanket, inside a large wooden crate.

Many of us watched in awe as a lead worker gently unpacked the statue and then, working with a larger team from two different companies, used precision tools and techniques to lift the marble Madonna onto its new, 1-ton base.

Once upon a time, the Mary sculpture, as raw marble, lived in Italy. Roger Crum, a professor in the Art and Design Department and an art historian, says it eventually was shipped in 1915 to the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel within the Normal School at Mount Saint John, the Marianist property to the east of Dayton. It stood above the altar there until Addison Crabtree saved it from demolition, together with the rest of the chapel, in 1977. Crabtree’s daughter, Patti Procuniar, who worked at UD for 30 years, donated the statue to the University in 2019. Over the past few years, the statue has been restored and cleaned in New York City.

“The installation unites a traditional statue, a modern base and a new location, making reference to the long history and mission of the Marianists, the University of Dayton and the Catholic Church,” Crum said. “Central in communicating this mission in kindred but different ways, are the inscriptions on the base.”

The first inscription is a quotation from Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’.  It reads Mary the Mother, who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world.

The second is from the Totus Tuus prayer of Fr. Martin Solma, S.M. It reads Take my memory O’Mary, that I might always keep God’s wonders in view.

Crum says both quotations refer to Mary and nature and the responsibility of the Church and the world to the preservation and safe-guarding of nature.

“Generally, we chose these quotations to make this installation respond to UD’s commitment to the environment and sustainability as well as to acknowledge the evident presence of nature and the solar prairie immediately outside of Curran Place,” Crum said.

Collaborating with Crum on the project were M. Gary Marcinowski, S.M., and John Clarke, professor emeriti in the Art and Design Department. Marcinowski designed the base of green granite from the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec, Canada, and Clarke, the type face and typographic layout of the inscriptions.

A formal dedication awaits. Until then, after more than a century, Mary has found a new home.

Patti Procuniar, her daughter Melissa Kitchin, '95, and her son, Chris Martin, proudly donated the statue of Mary to the University of Dayton. Kitchin used to work in the building when it was NCR Corporation's world headquarters.  The Institute for Pastoral Initiatives is located on the first floor of Curran Place. Learn more about programs offered by the institute.

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