October 20, 2015 // Uncategorized

Holy Cross College celebrates addition of green space

Holy Cross College held a dedication and blessing ceremony with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades for the newly constructed O’Connor Commons on Thursday, Oct. 15. The college’s new residence hall, North Hall, was also blessed.

NOTRE DAME — Holy Cross College dedicated the O’Connor Commons, a three-acre green space at the center of its campus, during a ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 15. The dedication was given by Holy Cross Brother John Paige, president of Holy Cross College. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades was in attendance to bless the commons and the newly constructed North Hall. The commons was made possible by a $1 million gift from Barbara O’Connor, from San Carlos, California, in memory of her late husband, John V. O’Connor.

Mike Brach, vice president for advancement, provided the opening welcome and introduction. Also speaking at the ceremony were Patrick O’Connor, president of the Student Government Association and Barbara and John O’Connor’s son, Andy, who works at Holy Cross College while pursuing a master’s degree in social work.

In addition to the new dormitory and commons, new basketball, beach volleyball and regulation dodge ball courts were constructed adjacent to the Pfeil Recreation Center. Expanded parking on the southeast side of the college allows easy access to activities and events for students and visitors of the college.

The O’Connor Commons has already proven to be a vital part of the Holy Cross community. The Student Government Association has held events on it, and students routinely use it as a study and social interaction space. In his remarks during the dedication, Patrick O’Connor said, “I’ve heard many students say that Holy Cross has a real campus feel now. It’s a space that brings life to the college.”

For many of the faculty and staff, the commons carries a deeper, more philosophical meaning. “With its unadorned interior — lacking fountains, statues or structures — the O’Connor Commons reflects the college’s functionality: informal, inviting, welcoming and easily accessible,” said Kelly Jordan, vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.

With the reception of a $1 million gift from Barbara O’Connor, center, of San Carlos, California, in memory of her husband, the late John O’Connor, Holy Cross College was able to raze a former parking lot area located directly in the middle of campus, and create the O’Connor Commons, a new, expansive green space within the heart of campus, to be enjoyed by students and the entire Holy Cross Community.

John O’Connor attended the nearby University of Notre Dame, and the family first became involved with Holy Cross College when their son, Andy, enrolled as a freshman. The O’Connors were impressed with their son’s emotional and intellectual growth as a student, and they felt strongly that Holy Cross should continue its mission to provide for future students’ academic and spiritual needs. Before his death in 2012, O’Connor established a student scholarship at Holy Cross College, but he also believed, as his son Andy said during the dedication ceremony, “that the parking lot next to the Pfeil Center needed to be something else,” something that would better support the Holy Cross community.

North Hall is currently a women’s residence hall and houses 68 students, expanding Holy Cross’s on-campus housing by 30 percent. It also contains a sacred space and fireside bistro area.

Construction began on North Hall and the O’Connor Commons after a groundbreaking ceremony last year. The work was completed by Holladay Properties. The commons was officially opened for use before the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.

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