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Mary, for the ages

Mary, for the ages

Michelle Tedford November 18, 2021

On a beautiful fall day, I joined a group of faculty and staff visiting Marianist locations of significance around campus. We walked from the statute of the Immaculate Conception on the library lawn to the heart of student activity in the Central Mall, where we looked up at a bronze Blessed William Joseph Chaminade sculpted mid-stride, his robes swaying. 

We continued up the hill, through Serenity Pines and across the Marianist cemetery, up to one of my favorite statues on campus: Mary, Seat of Wisdom, by Joseph Aspell. 

In my childhood, Mary was much younger than what we saw here. She was cast in concrete and dressed in blue robes, forever watching over the pink impatiens growing in my grandmother’s garden.

Statue of Mary
Mary, Seat of Wisdom

In Mary, Seat of Wisdom, the mother of Jesus is an older woman, time and life etched on her face. 

The group I was walking with is the latest cohort from Leadership UD, a formation program where participants learn about the University, their own leadership styles, and how to use their gifts and talents to influence and inspire others. The pandemic necessitated we postpone the courses originally scheduled for last year, which makes this fall’s experience of being together that much sweeter. 

A recent session had us discussing organizational structure. What started with a chart and its expected circles and lines showing position, function and authority soon became a conversation about informal associations and cross-silo collaborations. And everywhere, there was Mary. 

She was at the pinnacle of the org chart, where council members of the Marianist Province of the United States ensure the mission of the University by holding and delegating authority. She was among the row of vice presidents, where the rector sets the spiritual tone and provides guidance. And she was found in the blue and yellow Post-it notes each of us affixed to the chart, showing where we fit into campus life. We are learning how to lead, by Mary’s example, within the charge of the University. 

In this issue of University of Dayton Magazine, we share a story about the Forever Marianist initiative, a fundraising effort to ensure the Catholic, Marianist nature of the University endures. In his opening message, the president writes about the newest cohort of the Marianist Educational Associates. Through their own formation program, these lay staff and faculty study, discern and partner with Marianist brothers and sisters to advance UD’s educational philosophy in their daily interactions. 

These are but a few of the ways the Marianists welcome us all into community and make us part of its future. 

With her arms outstretched, Mary, Seat of Wisdom beckons us all.

With her arms outstretched, Mary, Seat of Wisdom beckons us all. Her lap is a bench for those seeking solace or counsel. With a look, she reminds us this relationship — this connection — will outlast the seasons and be renewed for generations to come. 

The final word is love