By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND
East Grand Forks – On May 10, about 10 months after breaking ground for a new addition, Sacred Heart School hosted a dedication ceremony. The new seven classroom wing is named for the Sisters of Mount Saint Benedict to honor their contributions to the school throughout it’s more than 100-year history.
Nearly 20 Benedictine sisters were bussed from their monastery in Crookston to the school in East Grand Forks for the dedication. The ceremony began in the Msgr. A.I. Merth Gymnasium. It was filled with students, teachers and supporters of Sacred Heart School.
According to Msgr. Mike Foltz, Superintendent of the School, two of the sisters attending, Sister Mary Jean Gust and Sister Jeannine Spain were graduates of Sacred Heart School in the 1940s. He also said 147 sisters of Mount Saint Benedict served at the school throughout its history, and 13 of them were present for the dedication.
“We are so grateful for their service and we are so excited to dedicate the new addition to your community, to you,” he said. After thanking them for their dedication, the sisters were applauded with a standing ovation.
Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner led the prayer service and blessed crucifixes from Mount Saint Benedict Monastery that were later processed to the new wing and hung in the new classrooms by teachers and students.
Carl Adolphson, President of Sacred Heart School, introduced Dan Whalen, an alumnus who served as chairman of the National Advisory Council which started the endeavor for growth in 2013 through the New Day campaign. This initial campaign raised $6 million for people and programs, leading to a 100-student increase from 2013-2018. Projections of continued enrollment growth meant the school needed more space. Through the Seize this Moment Campaign, $3 million was raised for construction including a $2.5 million grant from the Engelstad Foundation. The campaign’s total goal of $7 million will provide for continued growth in people, programs, scholarships and building maintenance.
“I want to thank the Sisters of Saint Benedict of Crookston,” Whalen said. “100 years ago, your forebearers left the stability of the monastery at St. Scholastica in Duluth to move way west to the far reaches of Minnesota and North Dakota and you brought stability to the greater Red River Valley through your schools and hospitals.”
He also commended the Sacred Heart community for the dedication, focus, and generosity that allowed the project to come to fruition.
Jack White, a member of the Class of 2019, came to the school in his sophomore year. He spoke about his experience as a student, saying, “Here one is free to be Catholic and free to openly speak about God and his love which has helped me to be courageous in sharing the Gospel.”
While speaking about the expansion, White said, “This addition warms my heart because it is a symbol of the strength of our faith and the solidarity of the people who believe in it.”
Sister Shawn Carruth, Prioress of the Sisters of Mount Saint Benedict said any sacrifices made by Benedictine sisters for the school were outweighed by the joys and rewards of teaching and watching their students go forth into the world. She thanked the school and parish.
“We are especially delighted and joyful because we know that you have made many sacrifices for this school to keep it going and now all of those sacrifices are now seeing a reward today as we celebrate this dedication and all the growth and success of this endeavor here at Sacred Heart,” she said.
Following the dedication ceremony, the Sisters of Mount Saint Benedict, Bishop Hoeppner, Bishop Balke, area priests and some of the people who were deeply involved in the addition processed to the new commons area.
There three paintings by artist Karen Bakke and a window featuring images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the St. Benedict medal were revealed to the sisters and blessed by Bishop Hoeppner.
The 11,000 square foot addition has a preschool classroom and two each of fourth, fifth and sixth grade classrooms that will be open for students in the fall.
Robert “Punky” Beauchamp, a parishioner who was Sacred Heart’s Maintenance & Facility Manager for 30 years before retiring in 2014, served as owner representative for the project on behalf of Sacred Heart.
“It is constructed basically of the same materials we had in our original building built in 1999. People will have a hard time telling it was an addition except for the fact we have a cornerstone on the new addition that states it was built in 2019,” he said.
He and his wife Roberta both graduated from the school. Two of their grandchildren are the fifth-generation of Roberta’s family to attend the school.
“We are pretty excited about the future for our grandchildren,” Punky said. “Roberta and I are very thankful for the benefactors who continue to support the school.”
For more information about the project and the capital campaign, click HERE.