Celebrating SHU history: “Lunch with Liz”

Left to right: Mother Aloysia Lowe (Colleen Malley), Sister Regina Ennis (Lauren Grasser) and Sister Francesca Brownlee (Halle Polechko) listen to the presentation. Photo by H.Carnahan/Setonian.

Seton Hill University’s “Lunch with Liz” was held in Cecilian Hall on March 20. The play featured SHU theatre performance majors as prominent figures in SHU history for students, staff and Sisters of Charity. The program was conducted to revisit some of SHU’s founding story and meet some of the people who were influential in that story.

Mother Aloysia Lowe, the founder, was played by Colleen Malley. Lauren Grasser performed as Sister Regina Ennis, Halle Polechko as Sister Francesca Brownlee and Tasha Matthews as Elizabeth Ann Seton.

The presentation was written, staged and directed by Denise Pullen, an associate theatre professor. Performances by SHU’s Women’s Chorale and dancer Elizabeth Miller were also featured.

“I feel it’s important because Elizabeth Ann Seton was an incredible person, as were all of the other founders and contributors to Seton Hill’s development as a university,” said junior Jacob Westwood, who played Monsignor William Granger Ryan. “She, and others, defied traditional values of the time, and sought to bring education and marketable gifts to people with hardly any representation. These people’s accomplishments are important for anyone to understand and appreciate.”

“Lunch with Liz” is in its 17th annual year, but this year was important because of SHU’s centennial celebration. The planning began last May to make it a “very special day,” Sister Maureen O’Brien said.

“I was lucky to step in at such a wonderful time,” SHU President Mary Finger said. “We are all here because of [Mother Lowe’s] vision, and her determination to grow the community and to put Seton Hill on this hill.”

Professor Chossat’s Senior Seminar class presents their research to Sister Sylvia Thibodeaux in Cecilian Hall. Photo by H.Carnahan/Setonian.

One speaker was “distinguished alumna” from the Class of 1967, Sister Sylvia Thibodeaux. Professor Michele Chossat’s Senior Seminar class presented their research project on the Holy Family in New Orleans to Thibodeaux, of which Thibodeaux was a member.

“Don’t take anything for granted,” Thibodeaux said. “You are privileged to have had the opportunity to have an education in what still is a small, family university. I know you have learned many rich, cultural values. You will have the opportunity to share your learning, your experiences with many and make a difference in our world.”

Running jokes throughout the program included jabs at Darren Achtzehn’s “famous” and “sinful” chips (who many, including Finger, gave up for Lent), the late arrival of Elizabeth Ann Seton because she missed the shuttle and had to walk up the Hill and the lack of a swimming pool on campus.

A student raffle was conducted for a prize at the end of the lunch. Brett Cuddy, who was also a senior presenter at the program, won the lottery and received a framed photo of the Administration building when it was first built and now.

“Participating in ‘Lunch with Liz’ was a fun experience, and I’m glad I was able to help Seton Hill mark its centennial year,” Westwood said. “It was wonderful learning about Seton Hill’s history, as well as the progressive ideals of Elizabeth Ann Seton.”

“You live on in our hearts,” said O’Brien to the founders. “Always, we love you and we remember you.”

Published By: Paige Parise

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