News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

August 27, 2013

Archbishop blesses students, Woods

Tobin commends college for dedication to today’s youth, commitment to Midwest region

TERRE HAUTE — Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College welcomed a special guest Monday afternoon to start a new academic year.

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of the Indianapolis archdiocese presided over Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception. He later gave two blessings in honor of the 100th anniversary of the college’s Conservatory of Music and Guerin Hall.

Archbishop Tobin came to the Woods at the invitation of Dottie King, Woods president, and Sister Denise Wilkinson, general superior of the Sisters of Providence, he said.

“I like being around young people,” he said in an interview, noting that he’s the oldest of 13 kids and has 28 nieces and nephews. Being around college students “is exciting.”

During his homily at Mass, he stressed two themes.

“I tried to demonstrate that, like it or not, we have an effect on each other, for good or for bad — so choose to bring out the best in each other.”

He also emphasized the importance of being grateful. “Gratitude is the WD-40 of the soul,” he told the congregation.

Commenting on the work of the college, he said that “opening the minds of young people today is an incredible mission.”

Tobin, who has been archbishop for nine months, also said he “recognizes the important contributions the Sisters of Providence have made, not only in central and southern Indiana, but really throughout the Midwest.” Through his visit, he also hoped to honor their contributions.

During one of the building ceremonies, the archbishop asked for “God’s continued blessing on these centers of seeking, learning and teaching what is true.”

King said she invited the archbishop because the college hadn’t had an opportunity to host him yet, although he has visited with the Sisters of Providence.

His presence Monday “adds prominence to our occasion,” King said.

During the ceremony, she said the blessing of the buildings is an opportunity to look backward and forward. “One hundred years is a long time, and in some ways it’s not so long at all,” King said.

While people marvel at the buildings’ construction, “I marvel more at how our mission is brought to life every day in these buildings,” she said.

She celebrated the work of faculty and staff and hopes they challenge students to stretch their minds and deepen their spiritual values. “I celebrate the students who are forever changed by their walk in the Woods,” King said.

She invited those attending the ceremony to walk through Guerin Hall and the Conservatory. “I encourage you to reflect on all that has gone on in these Woods for 100 years and what must continue to go on,” King said.

She suggested that “if these walls could talk, they would have lots of stories to tell. Some would be a little mischievous. Most  would be filled with lots of learning and lessons being imparted in these Woods.”

Now, the Class of 2017 will write another chapter in the college’s story.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or

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