A building that was once home to the physics department and law school offices gained a new name and a new tenant in an official dedication ceremony on Sept. 8.
Completely gutted and beautifully renovated, the former Keane Hall has become McGivney Hall and is the new home of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, a graduate school of theology affiliated with both CUA and the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. Previously, the institute had been located in CUA’s seminary, Theological College, across Michigan Avenue from the main campus.
Located across the CUA mall from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and close to the John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library and Shahan Hall, the 50-year old McGivney Hall has stood vacant for more than a dozen years.
“This is a dream come true,” said Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., president of Catholic University, telling those attending the dedication about his years of walking by the vacant five-story edifice and wondering about its future.
“Today we take great pride in the dedication of this beautiful building on this historic campus,” said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson in his speech at the dedication. “But what is even more beautiful is what will occur inside this building,” he added, alluding to the institute’s scholarly dedication to the critical role of marriage throughout history and in contemporary society.
Also speaking at the ceremony were Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and chancellor of Catholic University, and Most Rev. William E. Lori, bishop of Bridgeport (Conn.), chairman of CUA’s Board of Trustees, and supreme chaplain of the Knights. The dedication of McGivney Hall included a blessing of the building, prayers for its future use and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Earlier in the afternoon, faculty, staff and students of the John Paul II Institute and their guests attended a celebratory Mass at the basilica.
The renovated building contains all-new electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems. It features offices for the institute as well as four renovated classrooms and the 120-seat Keane Auditorium, which will be available to the institute and for general university academic use. The auditorium retains the name Keane in honor of CUA’s first rector, Archbishop John Joseph Keane.
An $8 million donation from the Knights of Columbus made the renovations possible and the building’s new name honors the founder of the Knights, Rev. Michael McGivney (1852–1890), who in March 2008 was named a “Venerable Servant of God” by Pope Benedict XVI as the Vatican considers the priest for canonization. An outdoor sculpture of Father McGivney stands near the hall’s south entrance.
The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, has befriended and supported CUA for more than a century. The first floor of McGivney Hall pays tribute to that relationship with a framed display: a 10-foot-tall enlargement of a 1904 document proclaiming a $50,000 gift from the Knights to establish a chair in American history at CUA. An early Knights alliance with CUA’s law school also led to the latter being named the Columbus School of Law. — H.B.
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