New home of Alliance for Catholic Education is dedicated

by Bill Schmitt

Carole Sandner Hall

A commitment to strengthen Catholic primary and secondary education prompted celebrations of joy and hope at the University of Notre Dame on Sept. 16 and 17 with the dedication of a new home for the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

A series of events, including a blessing by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., spotlighted the newly built Carole Sandner Hall as well as refurbished office and gathering spaces where ACE and the Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI) will advance Notre Dame’s service to K-12 education.

The events evoked words of gratitude and encouragement from many visitors and participants, such as the Most Reverend Kevin Rhoades, Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend; the Most Reverend Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York; and Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia. Exhibits during an “open house” on Friday, Sept. 16, introduced many faculty, staff and students to ACE’s 18 years of alliance with Catholic schools.

“The University of Notre Dame’s ACE program has helped to sustain the great hope of Catholic education in this country,” Father Jenkins said, prefacing his blessing with “a tremendous amount of gratitude.” He pointed out three benefactor families—Carole and Jack Sandner, Mary Ann and Jack Remick, and Bobbie and Terry McGlinn—who made possible the construction of Carole Sandner Hall and refurbishment of the IEI Building, together just steps away from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes, and the Main Building.

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., blesses Carole Sandner Hall

Blessing ACE’s new home with hundreds gathered around him, Father Jenkins said, “May those who teach and serve here always strive for wise stewardship of the ongoing mission to sustain, strengthen and transform primary and secondary Catholic education in this country. Bless them and the entire ACE community, standing on the shoulders of generations of dedicated priests, religious men and women, extraordinary disciples of Christ the Teacher.”

ACE’s new home features Remick Commons, a large and welcoming space that once was the chapel for the convent of Holy Cross sisters, many of whom were Catholic school teachers. Bishop Rhoades complimented the new structure—as well as ACE’s important work in preparing tomorrow’s Catholic school teachers—during his remarks as celebrant at the Dedication Mass Friday evening in the Basilica.

He said he has met many enthusiastic young people serving Catholic schools as ACE teachers. “I see their zeal for the mission. Where does all this come from?” he asked. “It comes from our faith. That’s why we have to have these schools.” The Bishop, calling ACE “just one example of how the University of Notre Dame serves the Church,” said ACE is helping Catholic education locally and nationally in a number of ways, including its campaign to double Latino enrollment in U.S. Catholic schools and its priority attention to low-income children and under-resourced schools.

Archbishop Dolan, touring the newly dedicated space on Saturday, said ACE helps to affirm a bright future for Catholic schools. “I don’t know of any place that gives more hope and promise than here, and this beautiful building is an icon of that,” he said in brief remarks accompanying a blessing. “Keep up the good work,” he added.

The Archdiocese of New York is a partner with ACE in its Catholic School Advantage campaign to give more Latinos the benefits of a Catholic education. The Archbishop personally addressed Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., co-founder of ACE and director of the IEI, noting ACE’s crucial infusion of hope among Catholic school supporters. Father Scully, along with more than 70 faculty and staff colleagues in ACE, hosted a Saturday afternoon tailgate party along with the other dedication-related events.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C.

On the previous afternoon, Father Scully had welcomed the Governor of Virginia to the Main Building for a keynote address setting the tone of the dedication. McDonnell, a Notre Dame graduate, stressed the importance of a good education for young people. He cited Thomas Jefferson’s observation that “whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”

McDonnell told his audience, “I’m so glad we’re here to celebrate the IEI today and a permanent home now for the ACE program.” He called ACE “something that will shape our values, enlighten our minds, bolster our spirits, and contribute mightily to democracy for a very long time to come.”

ACE and the IEI are playing major supportive roles this year as the 2011-12 Notre Dame Forum presents a series of events centered on the topic, “Reimagining School: To Nurture the Soul of a Nation.” This University-wide exploration of education issues, carrying on a Forum tradition established by Father Jenkins in 2005, is co-chaired by Father Scully and Nicole Stelle Garnett, professor of law.

During the dedication events, Father Scully thanked the McGlinns, Remicks and Sandners for benefactions to ACE’s new home, saying “the home you’ve provided will be a vessel of hope and new life for countless thousands of children across our country and across our world for as long as there is a Notre Dame.”

The families have demonstrated deep commitment to Notre Dame and its mission over the years. Among their many avenues of service, Jack Sandner is a member of the University Board of Trustees, and Terry McGlinn is one of the Trustees Emeriti.