The Catholic University of America

Remarks at Groundbreaking for Opus Hall
By Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M.,
CUA President
Future Site of Opus Hall
March 12, 2007

Today is really a great day for The Catholic University of America. In addition to being a beautiful, beautiful day, it is, as our chairman Bishop Lori noted, "a milestone" for the university. In fact it is actually another milestone. In the past several years, the university community has witnessed the construction of two other residence halls, Millennium North and South, great additions to the university campus as well as the wonderful university center dedicated to the memory of another great alum, Eddie Pryzbyla. A fitness center was established in honor of a long-time trustee and benefactor, the late Eugene Kane.

On the campus main, where you can see the fence around it, Keane Hall is in the process of being transformed through an $8 million grant from the Knights of Columbus into McGivney Hall, which is named after the Knights of Columbus' great founder, Father Michael McGivney. This year, our football team played on new state-of-the-art turf, with more athletic improvements at the DuFour and elsewhere to come, thanks to the generosity of so many of our great alums. The Mullen Library earlier experienced a $6 million renovation, the first improvements to the building in decades.

And of course there are the 49 acres of land, new land added to the university, making our future secure and expansion possible and making Catholic University the largest university campus in Washington. Milestones, all.

And, like so many of these great additions to the university, today's groundbreaking for Opus Hall is another chapter in what is an ongoing story of the generosity and support of so many alumni giving back to alma mater so that the lives of future generations - their successors - might be better. But, more than any particular campus building, the dedication and commitment of generous alumni, that is for them a passion and for whom Catholic University in their time was truly a life-changing experience, that dedication and commitment serve as the strongest foundation upon which we have built what we are today as a university and what we have yet to become.

The name Opus Hall is derived from the Opus group of companies, the Opus Corp., a $1.4 billion real estate development company founded over 50 years ago in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by Gerry Rauenhorst with the love and support of his wife, Henrietta, and their seven children. One of those seven children, Neil, graduated from The Catholic University of America's School of Architecture in 1976.

Like his father before him, Neil knew the value of hard work, Neil knew the value of his Catholic faith, Neil knew the value and importance of a good education and he employed all of these things to successfully chart his own course in the world, a course that has led him right back to his university today. Joined by his wife, Becky, Neil serves as an alumnus, a benefactor and a trustee of the university. And today, we honor and thank both Neil and Becky, his father, Gerry, and the Opus group of companies for helping The Catholic University of America achieve yet another milestone, rising to new heights once more.

My friends, it is my honor and privilege to present to you, the president of NJR Development Co. in Tampa, who brought the good weather with him, and our generous alumnus, Neil J. Rauenhorst, class of '76.