DALLAS — If you build it, they will come.
Misericordia University’s president used the famous quote from “Field of Dreams” while describing recent work on an iconic archway on campus.
The archway on Lake Street, which dates to 1932, was rededicated Saturday as part of festivities for Alumni Weekend.
Its restoration began in November 2017 after the university struck a deal with Masonry Preservation Service Inc., of Bloomsburg.
The estimated cost of the restoration was roughly $450,000, according to Paul Krzywicki, manager of Misericordia’s Office of Public Relations and Publications.
The money was raised by alumni and friends of Misericordia.
“The realization that the archway was 85 years old, we didn’t want it to crumble,” said Thomas J. Botzman, president of the Catholic university.
“The archway is a symbol of God’s relation to man,” he continued. “Coming in, even if you’re not perfect, we are all accepted for who we are and all are welcome here.”
The six-month restoration of the archway was no easy task.
Almost 100 pieces of carved natural bluestone were removed and replaced, and more than 140 terra cotta units were removed, replicated and replaced. The company was able to salvage and replace nearly 5,000 tan bricks, plus refurbish copper lanterns which illuminate the arch at night.
During the ceremony, Dallas native and current speech language pathology student Lia Ruggerio spoke on behalf of the student community. She said the arch acts as a symbolic welcome.
“When you see the arch here at Misericordia, you know you are a part of the community,” Ruggerio said. “It all begins at the arch.”
Ruggerio is a part of the Students Today, Alumni Forever organization on campus. It focuses on philanthropic endeavors that connect the student body with alumni via monthly events where they serve as community volunteers.
“This school is sculpted by mercy, service, justice and hospitality,” Ruggerio said.
“Each and every brick represents current students, alumni, faculty and staff members as one big family.”
A university press release says the arch’s left cupola, which is taller and more elaborate than the right, represents God’s perfection, and the right side symbolizes mankind’s imperfection.
‘Home is where arch is’
Alumnus Sara Ervin Walser, Ed.D. and a 1963 graduate, spoke to the crowd about her journey coming to Misericordia and what the arch means to her.
“As we once left the woodland hills behind us, we now re-enter and celebrate the renewal of stone edifice and what it has meant for us,” Walser said. “No matter how recent or distant our time here, we know that ‘home is where the arch is.’”
Walser received roars from the crowd when she mentioned that while she was a student her mail would be sent to Dallas, Texas, instead of Pennsylvania.
Sister Jean Messaros, RSM, vice president for mission integration at Misericordia, ended the re-dedication ceremony by blessing the arch with a prayer.
As part of the weekend, Misericordia’s Class of 1968 is celebrating its 50th reunion. The university dedicated “Bettsi’s Clock” later Saturday, named in loving memory of Bettsi Jaeger, a ‘68 alum, for all she gave to the institution and the impact she had on her class.
President Botzman described Jaeger as “Facebook before Facebook” because of how she was able to keep everyone from her class connected.