MILWAUKEE – On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell announced that the university will install a grotto of the Blessed Virgin just west of St. Joan of Arc Chapel. The grotto will be in place by the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year.
President Lovell recently completed an intensive 18-month Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP) based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, integrating university mission into the way leaders lead, teach and live. Lovell said his vision for the grotto was connected to his final project for the ICP program.
The project, titled Sacred Spaces, catalogued the numerous religious spaces and artifacts on campus that signify Marquette’s Catholic and Jesuit identity. Through the project, a website was created that allows individuals to take a physical or virtual pilgrimage of the Sacred Spaces on campus that highlight the ways the Marquette community lives its Jesuit and Catholic identity. Lovell said the installation of the grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary will add another important sacred space to campus.
“Throughout my life, Mary has been a steadying guide and a reminder that Jesus is God, but also human like every one of us. When we take time for reflection, Mary teaches us so much about simplicity, grace and strength,” Lovell said. “My hope is that this grotto will serve as a special and sacred place of devotion, inspiration and prayer for Marquette students, faculty, alumni and staff for decades to come.”
Since coming to Marquette in 2014, Lovell and his Mission and Ministry team have started daily rosary sessions and bolstered Eucharistic Adoration. He regularly attends the 10 p.m. Tuesday Mass at St. Joan of Arc Chapel – a favorite tradition of many Marquette students.
Father Jacques Marquette, whom Marquette University is named for, has a documented devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Historians note that the Jesuit explorer from the late 1600s often placed his travels under Mary’s protection through devotion and prayer.
“From our earliest days, Jesuits have celebrated Mary as the Mother of the Society of Jesus because of her place in Ignatius’ conversion and the founding of the Society,” said Vice President for Mission and Ministry Rev. Tom Krettek, S.J. “The establishment of a Marian Grotto on Marquette’s campus is particularly appropriate and a welcome addition to the sacred spaces on campus.”
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