LIVONIA, Mich. – Bitter cold couldn't stop supporters of the Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters of North America Heritage Center and Archives from attending the final beam raising and topping off ceremony on Thursday, February 20. The sun was shining brightly, however, over the shell of the building that is currently under construction on the southwest corner of Madonna University’s Livonia campus. Nearly 150 alumni, faculty, staff, and benefactors joined Madonna University President Michael Grandillo, Ph.D., and the Felician Sisters of North America, for this milestone celebration of the $12 million, 30,000-square-foot building, slated to open spring 2021.
All in attendance applauded as the final beam, adorned with an evergreen tree, the American flag and the Madonna University flag, was secured into place. The Felician Sisters and the Madonna University community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and supporters had an opportunity to sign the beam and leave their mark on history prior to the event.
“When our founders came to this new world more than 150 years ago, they sought to serve, to help those in need...they knew they would endure, but did they know they would change America and the communities they served through their good works?” said President Grandillo at the beam raising and topping off ceremony. “I say yes, and this building will forever document that vision. Each entering class (at Madonna University) shares what it means to be Felician. All will be welcome here.”
This Welcome Center and Felician Sisters Heritage Center, designed by MKC architects and built by J. S. Vig Construction, was inspired by the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Central Italy and is reflective of the values of St. Francis that are espoused by the Felician Sisters and the University Community. It will boast the Basilica’s sanctuary feeling with an open interior, meandering paths, special repetition of columns, and a center for gathering, reflection and learning. This will be a place that students and constituents are first welcomed to the university, and where community visitors and beyond can learn about the infinite service of the Felician Sisters and the legacy they have created.
Representing the Felician Sisters of North America at the beam raising event, Sister Nancy Jamroz, CSSF, co-director, Center for Catholic Studies and Interfaith Dialogue, Madonna University, shared that the Felician Sisters were founded by two women in Warsaw, Poland in 1855 and later expanded to North America. “Today, we are excited to move one more step forward to the completion of the Felician Sisters of North America Heritage Center and Archives. It is our hope that the experience will inspire visitors to reflect , remember and honor the lives and ministries of our sisters, coming away with not only a greater understanding of the sisters, but their place in history and the world today,” she said.
The building will also feature a Great Room accommodating up to 400 people for a wide range of University and community events, an art gallery and offices for University admissions and advancement staff members. The Felician Sisters Heritage Center and Archives, housed within the Welcome Center, will be the historic site of the first Felician Province in North America, celebrating the Felician Sisters’ heritage and a remembrance of the many courageous, selfless, and faith-filled Sisters who came years before. The Felician Sisters archives, as well as reading rooms, storage, and circulation equipment will be housed in the lower level for all to enjoy.
“This beam raising for us as a city is significant. This is the beginning of building a place where people are going to come —and just like we get to recognize every day the history that’s been laid here — now people from outside of Livonia are going to have reasons to celebrate all of that right along with us,” said Livonia Mayor Maureen Miller Brosnan about the Felician Sisters, and the Center.
A beam raising and topping off ceremony is an often-celebrated milestone in building construction when the last or highest beam is put into place. A tree, or sometimes a branch, is placed on the highest beam of the structure. In the United States, it’s not uncommon for an American flag to be lifted into place with the tree or in place of the tree. Often, for posterity, the last beam is signed by those involved in the construction process and those for whom the building is built. The beam raising and topping off ceremony for a modern-day construction project remains an important symbol of teamwork, safety, quality, craftsmanship, and good luck for the future, and that the structure will last many years – much like the evergreen tree that adorns it.
Follow the progress of the Welcome Center and the Felician Sisters of North America Heritage Center and Archives development at madonna.edu/welcomecenter.
A Felician-sponsored ministry, Madonna University has been providing liberal arts education, career preparation and service-learning to students for more than 80 years. In addition to the beautiful main campus, conveniently located at I-96 and Levan Road in Livonia, Madonna offers academic programs in Gaylord, Macomb, and online in China, Haiti and the United Arab Emirates. Michigan’s most affordable, independent, Catholic, liberal arts university, Madonna offers more than 100 undergraduate and 35 graduate programs in the colleges of arts and humanities, natural and social sciences, education, and nursing and health, as well as the School of Business.
A joy-filled, apostolic congregation of women religious, the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Felix of Cantalice, known as the Felician Sisters, is a Franciscan community inspired by the spiritual ideals of its Foundress Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska and Saint Francis of Assisi. Consecrated to God through the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Felician Sisters of Our Lady of Hope Province live in community and dedicate their lives to God and the Church. At Felician-sponsored ministries across North America the Sisters can be found serving the impoverished; marginalized; the imprisoned; the sick, elderly, and the infirm; those with profound disabilities and those with developmental and physical disabilities; young adults and youth ranging from pre-school through college.
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Front row (in front of beam), L-R, Capturing a photo before the final beam is raised for the Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters Heritage Center and Archives are: Marcia Wallander, director of development, Felician Services, Inc.,; Sister Victoria Marie Indyk; Joan Nardi, Madonna University Alumna and supporter; Sister Nancy Marie Jamroz; and Sister Cynthia Ann Machlik. Back row, l-r: Joe Vig, CEO J.S. Vig Construction; Janet McGuirk, EVP, Felician Services Inc.; Terry Schweizer, President, Felician Services, Inc., Matthew Teismann, MKC Architects; Michael A. Grandillo, Ph.D., Madonna University President.
The final beam was blessed by Father Charles Morris, Madonna University before being raised and placed in its final position on the structure of the Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters Heritage Center and Archives.
Livonia Mayor Maureen Miller Brosnan (fourth from left) celebrates the beam raising and topping off ceremony with Felician Sisters, Sister Cynthia Ann Machlik; Sister Nancy Marie Jamroz, and Sister Victoria Marie Indyk, and Madonna University President Michael A. Grandillo, Ph.D.
The final beam of the Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters Heritage Center and Archives being placed it its final position.