It was a sight to behold on Friday, September 7. Let me explain.
Nearly 630 guests (including staff, alumni, friends and the community of Windsor) and from every walk of life gathered together on Friday evening at the Ciociaro Club in Windsor to remember and recommit to Assumption University. It was a great sign of joy for the many years of precious memories as well as hope for the future.
S+L's Cheridan Sanders, Sebastian Gomes and I joined our CEO and Assumption's President/Vice-Chancellor Fr. Thomas Rosica for a very memorable evening.
In his opening remarks, Fr. Rosica spoke about his love for Windsor and the impact that Assumption has had on its academic partner, the University of Windsor.
"Assumption University is at the origins, the core and the heart of the great University of Windsor. And it remains there, small, strong, firm in its foundations and open to the future," he said.
"Our efforts at Assumption are inspired by the vision of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman who dreamed of establishing a Catholic university in which theology, the arts and sciences would all be taught in dialogue with one another. This is the true meaning of "universitas" - a meeting place, a crossroads, an important bridge to the world around us," he added.
Among many of the formal speeches that were shared with the crowd, Bishop Ronald Fabbro, C.S.B., of London offered heartfelt words of gratitude and encouragement to the crowd. More than that and later in the evening, 64 alumni were chosen to become, "Alumni of the Century." Eight alumni were recognized with the "Gaudium et Spes" award for having embodied the spirit of that major Conciliar document in their daily lives.
In one of the most significant moments of the evening, Fr. Thomas Rosica presented Dr. Aris Kaplanis to Bishop Fabbro for the conferral of the "Pontifical Knighthood of St. Gregory the Great" on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI. Kaplanis, a Greek Orthodox man is a great philanthropist who has worked for several Catholic causes and projects in Toronto and Windsor. Kaplanis is the Honorary Chancellor of Assumption University.
When looking back at the history of this venerable institution of higher learning, we know that Assumption University first opened its doors on February 10, 1857. The college was incorporated by an Act of the legislature of the Province of Canada which received Royal Assent on August 16, 1858. The Basilian Fathers have been guiding Assumption ever since 1870. During its early years, the curriculum consisted of classical and commercial courses providing a complete high school and Arts programme. In 1919, Assumption affiliated with the University of Windsor, in London, Ontario as an integral part of its Faculty of Arts and Science.
In the 1960's, the City of Windsor's growth and the increasing demands for higher education, necessitated a further restructuring of the University. At the present, Assumption University's academic activity involves the Department of the New Evangelization; the Christian Culture Series; and several important lecture series. Assumption works in partnership with the Catholic institutions of higher learning in the Diocese of London and partner with Catholic Universities and Colleges throughout Canada. In addition, they work hand in hand with the Windsor-Essex Catholic School Board in offering formation programs to Catholic teachers and staff in the immediate area.
All in all, the "crown in the jewel" for the University has and continues to be the Catholic Campus Ministry, currently headed by Fr. Chris Valka, CSB. It serves the pastoral needs of students and staff of the University of Windsor community. The newly constituted Assumption University Alumni Association brought alive this magnificent dinner on Friday night. It was a joy and pleasure to be apart of this blossoming community - whose future holds much promise. Without a doubt, I'm assured that they will continue to keep the story of Assumption alive, and that the Development office will work to establish the means of holding strong to Assumption's future.
Thank you for your hospitality Assumption! We here at Salt + Light can't wait to see what lies ahead for your future.
Photo Credit: Cheridan Sanders