Thursday, October 21, 2010

The legacy of lace

CAMPUS MINISTRY held a nice event in the Circle during Founders Week earlier this month with the intent of exposing students to a bit of CSJ history. The "Day of Lace" referred to the beautiful but important handicraft of lacemaking, which our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph, taught to poor women early in the Order's foundation.

We might admire lace for the skill and artistry that goes into it, but we also need to remember that it meant the difference between starvation or prostitution and a life of dignity for widows and orphaned girls in 17th Century France. And it's still going on: The Sisters in some communities teach lacemaking as a meditative practice.

For Lace Day, Mount students decorated doilies and received lace-wrapped lollipops labeled with a short narrative about the CSJs. Sister Mary McKay, CSJ, of our religious studies faculty gave a short talk. This legacy is new to a lot of students, and most seemed to be paying close attention. Isn't it good to know from whence we've come?

The photo shows some of the Campus Ministry girls with a gift from a Mount alumna. Eileen Nason Rhyner '32 recently donated a handpainted wooden tray depicting Le Puy, the tiny French village where the lace ministry got going in 1650. Eileen's 60-year-old souvenir gave the Day of Lace some real geography to work with, and the tray will now become part of the CSJs' history collection at Carondelet Center.

With Lace Day, the legacy lives on.

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