On May 26, the Marymount community celebrated the blessing of the life-size bronze statue of Sister Majella Berg, RSHM, which now graces the entrance to Caruthers and Lee Ostapenko halls.
Sister Majella served as Marymount University’s president from 1960 to 1993. At the time of her retirement, she was one of the longest-serving college presidents in the United States.
In his remarks at the dedication, Marymount President James E. Bundschuh stated, “It is fitting that Marymount’s first major piece of public art should be a statue of the person who, more than any other, built the foundation for our University’s success.” He added, “The grouping of Sister Majella with two students reflects her commitment to young people and Marymount’s educational mission.”
The cast-bronze statue is by sculptor Kathleen Farrell, founder and president of Friends of Community Public Art, based in Joliet, Illinois. She has worked in public art for more than a quarter century and has focused on creating large-scale figurative sculptures since 1998. Farrell also spoke at the ceremony, noting, “I try to make my art interesting to look at from every possible angle.” She added, “It’s so exciting to see the sculpture in its final place; the surroundings are beautiful.”
Sister Martina Crowley, RSHM, spoke on behalf of Marymount’s founding order, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, She remarked, “Marymount meant the world to Sister Majella, and she gave herself untiringly to make it a success…. I believe this sculpture captures Sister Majella as an educator interacting with the students she loved so dearly. May it be a testament to the values and tradition that mark our RSHM mission and that will continue to guide Marymount University into the future.”
Father David Sharland,YA, director of Campus Ministry, conducted the blessing with prayers and the sprinkling of holy water.
Dr. Bundschuh concluded the ceremony, stating that the statue “will serve as a permanent reminder of Sister Majella’s vision, leadership, and commitment to Marymount University and the students it serves.” He then touched Sr. Majella’s shoulder for good luck, perhaps beginning a new tradition at Marymount!
ABOUT SR. MAJELLA BERG
Sister Majella’s faith, vision, and tireless efforts laid the foundation for the thriving institution that is Marymount University. Under her leadership, Marymount grew from a small two-year college for women into a comprehensive, coeducational university serving more than 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students each year.
A well-loved and much-respected member of the Arlington and Washington communities, Sister Majella was named a Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine in 1990. Two years later, the Virginia Commission on the Status of Women and the Virginia Business and Professional Women’s Association inducted her into the Virginia Women’s Hall of Fame. That same year, Sister Majella was recognized as a Notable Woman of Arlington by the Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women.
In 1998 she was named to the Washington Business Hall of Fame. And in July 1993, His Holiness Pope John Paul II bestowed the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal upon Sister Majella, in honor of her career of outstanding service and leadership.
When she died at the Marymount Convent in Tarrytown, New York, in April 2004, Sister Majella Berg had been a Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary for 68 years. It is impossible to know how many lives she touched through her remarkable career as a religious and an educator, but two things are certain: Thousands of Marymount students, alumni, and employees knew Sister Majella as a wise and caring presence in their lives, and the success of Marymount University today is a testament to the strong foundation that she built.
PHOTO CAPTIONS - All photos by Leslie E. Kossoff/LK Photos
Photo 1 - Father David Sharland blesses the statue.
Photo 2 - President Bundschuh touches Sister Majella's shoulder for good luck, while Dr. Chris Domes, vice president for Student Development and Enrollment Management, looks on.
Photo 3 - Marymount Trustee Rose Benté Lee takes a moment to honor Sister Majella, her close friend.
Photo 4 - Members of the RSHM community pose with the statue.
Photo 5 - Sculptor Kathleen Farrell stands next to the sculpture she created.