Reunion 2015 Highlights
June 15th, 2015 | SMWC
Reunion Weekend at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is a time for alums to reconnect, not only with each other, but also with their alma mater. It is a coming together filled with laughter, tears of joy, nostalgia, stories, friendships and new connections. Reunion 2015 celebrated the class years ending in 0 and 5. Alums from the Class of 1950 to the Class of 2005, and some in between and since, all reunited on campus for a weekend of activities.
The weekend included the 1965 Golden Jubilee Reception, Welcome Dinner, Strategic Plan Q & A with College Leadership, Walk in the Woods tour of campus, Reunion Banquet and Sunday Brunch. In the midst of those activities, alums could also explore the Roethele Art Studio, Linden Leaf Gifts, SMWC Bookstore and the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Shrine.
At the Saturday evening Reunion Banquet, the Frances Murphy Rumely Award and the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Award were given to deserving alums.
Mary Dolores “Dee Dee” Mahoney Dahm ’60 received the Frances Murphy Rumely Award for demonstrating outstanding dedication to civic, religious or educational organizations and leadership through her volunteer work for such organizations.
“I am very humbled by the whole experience. I was given many opportunities to do God’s work,” said Dahm. “Being involved has given me enthusiasm, and God provided me with good health. So that’s my way of paying back, and I love it. I am joyful for what I do. It’s a thrill to get involved.”
Maria Price ’87 received the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Award for possessing similar purpose, devotion, community vitality and leadership as exhibited by the College’s foundress.
“It’s very humbling, and I feel most undeserving, and I feel full of gratitude. It’s been overwhelming, so in all, I just tried to rest in the gratitude of the gifts I’ve been given and the ways I’ve been able to contribute,” said Price. “This award to me is a challenge. It’s a challenge to live up to the award and to live up to the wonderful attributes of Mother Theodore Guerin. For me, there could be no greater honor than to be nominated by people I love and respect, to stand in the company of previous award winners who are my mentors and spiritual guides and they are giants among women and men. There could be no greater honor than to be associated in any way with Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.”
Another special announcement was made at the Reunion Banquet when the Class of 1965 made history with the highest yearly giving amount from any one class over the course of a year. When the Class of 1964 made history at last year’s Reunion by giving a total of $1,001,964 over the course of a year, the Class of 1965 knew they would need to step up if they were going to accept the challenge and beat the record for their 50th Reunion. The Class of 1965 dug deeper, stretched, challenged each other and came together as a team to give a grand total of $1,045,000 to the Woods Fund.
“There is a magic about our class. We all like each other a lot,” Nancy Hurrle Emmett ’65 said with a laugh. “We are a group like no other class. We currently have the highest percentage of giving in the history of the College. There’s a spirit to this class. This is the greatest group you’re ever going to see!”
One member of the “magical” class, Jonni Garcia-Maldonado Sayres ’65, says that she comes back to The Woods from her home in New York regularly for clarity and peace. “I’m always grateful for the education I received here. It’s helped me wherever I’ve gone.” After joining the Peace Corps upon graduation, Sayres has traveled to places including Tanzania, Cambodia and Afghanistan, taking The Woods spirit with her wherever she goes.
Karen Kelly Kiss ’70, making a journey from Australia, traveled the furthest to revisit The Woods and her classmates. Originally from Connecticut, Kiss moved to Australia in her mid-20s but has come back to The Woods for every Reunion since 1985. She also stayed connected to her classmates and alma mater by serving as Class Secretary all the way from Australia.
For mother-daughter duo, Josephine Eggers Cavanaugh ’65 and Julie Cavanaugh Pache ’90, coinciding Reunion years makes it that much more special.
“Experiencing it with Julie is doubly delicious. It’s been a magical weekend, and it’s just been a joy in my life to have all of our reunions correspond,” said Cavanaugh. “I see her friends, and I get to show her off to my friends. So it’s been a joy.”
Her daughter has similar feelings. “Coming to The Woods always feels like I’m coming home. It always has since the first time I came here when I was a senior in high school,” said Pache. “Celebrating it with my mom is just a unique part of it. For two of my reunions, I brought an infant with me. It was almost a gift to my mom that she could, instead of show pictures of her grandchildren, say, “Here’s my grandchild.” My daughter, who is now a sophomore in high school, came to my 10-year Reunion, as a five-week-old baby. Maybe, did we set up a third generation legacy? I don’t know. But it’s just a neat thing to share with my mom because The Woods is so fundamental in who we are as women.”
For other alums celebrating their 25th Reunion alongside Pache, coming home was an emotional experience. This was the first Reunion that Ann Marie Bisch Jansen ’90 has been to, and seeing how much campus has changed left her nostalgic.
“I miss Foley Hall. It left our senior year. It’s kind of sentimental,” she said through tears. “I’m proud that we have a saint. It’s nice to be back.”
Another alum from the same class described the feeling of coming home. “You don’t get that feeling of peace anywhere but here. You find yourself. You find a strength in yourself that you didn’t know you had,” said Jamie Hunt Kauff ’90, emotion filling her eyes. “We can go months, years, whatever, but when one of us has a problem, it’s like we’ve never stopped talking. You’re still sisters. You’re gone from here, but it’s never gone from you.”