Generous supporters of Padua’s Welcome Home Project gathered on Monday, June 13, 2022 – the Feast Day of our patron St. Anthony of Padua – for a dedication ceremony and celebration of Phase One’s completion.
A beautiful tradition greets your arrival in Assisi, Italy. Regardless of who you are, or where you are from, you will be met with the comforting statement, “Welcome home.” It is a phrase that is deeply rooted in the Franciscan charisms of hospitality and care for others. “There is a sense of belonging and a comfort that comes with knowing you have returned to a loving and safe environment,” said President David Stec ’86. “This is the experience we want for our community at Padua. A place that celebrates our faith and the hospitality that is core to our Franciscan identity,” he continued.
One of the first initiatives for President Stec was called the Welcome Home Project. With the recent completion of the waterproofing of the front of the building, the dug-up ground created the perfect canvas and opportunity to re-envision the entire landscape of the front of the building. After sharing the vision with a few long-time friends of Padua, President Stec received a generous initial gift to begin the work. It didn’t take long for others to partner and help fund this important and meaningful project. “Safety, faith, and beauty were key to the design. We have re-envisioned the entire experience of entering Padua. From the moment you drive in, and as you enter into the school, we have created an entirely new welcoming environment,” Stec stated.
The Welcome Home Project responded to multiple areas of need, and included a state-of-the-art innovation to enhance the school. The biggest area of concern was the safety of the community when driving to the entrance and walking into the building. A brand-new sidewalk was installed across the entire front of the building, which was fully funded by members of the Class of 1965. Also, bright LED lights were added to the walkways and on top of the building for nighttime security. Additionally, planter box bollards on each side of the main doors were added this spring to beautify and protect the entrance. Most importantly, to help make all people feel welcome, a new accessibility ramp was added and automatic doors were installed in the Main Lobby. This was made possible by Joseph Myers ’99 and Michael ’83 and Jayna Koler.
The second area of renovation was the complete re-landscaping of the school grounds. Plant beds were reshaped and hardscape walls were installed using large sandstone boulders and paver stones. The existing trees were pruned and old plants removed. Grasses, perennials, and annuals were added to complete the planting design. In addition, the Greening of Padua bricks from the 90’s will be reinstalled in their original site—near the front of the Main Entrance.
Lastly, in an effort to continue our Franciscan efforts of caring for our environment and spurred by the ecological passion of Mark Brody ’70, several rain gardens were created to naturally absorb run-off water. As a second part of the landscaping re-design, the Prayer Garden was completely transformed through the gifts and vision of the Frattare family. All of the statues and memorials in the original Prayer Garden have been preserved and incorporated into the new Prayer Garden renovation along with new plants and reshaped flowering trees. Thanks to the generosity of Greg Kurtz ’71, the pathway is now made with crushed stone and has been extended to the gazebo. It continues around the entire garden to the new sidewalk. An additional prayer space and bench replace the two existing benches, situated to focus on a beautiful new Saint Francis of Assisi statue in memory of +Sean Osysko ’01, which was donated by his family and friends. “The prayer garden is a very special place at Padua for our community to pray and remember,” said Stec.
The last goal of the project was to enhance both of our entrance lobbies. State-of-the-art scent generators have been installed: cold-air diffusers subtly enhance the space dispersing non-allergenic fragrance. Twelve-foot trees as well as beautiful plants and shrubbery beautify the areas. Also, in an effort to match the Main Lobby, a San Damiano cross has been installed in the Kohuth Atrium to remind us of our mission. During each season we will decorate the lobbies with flowers and décor to help set the mood each and every day.
Beyond the generosity of our donors, we also want to thank Nick Iafigliola and Schirmer Construction, LLC for providing all the hardscape boulders and concrete work, the Kurtz Brothers for landscaping products and services, and Iosue Landscaping Concepts for their complete preparation, planting and execution of the entire project design. Additionally, we thank Petitti Garden Centers for their help in providing all of the trees, plants, and the incredible design work of Michael Schaefer.
“The Welcome Home Project has made a real difference for our community. God bless the donors and companies that helped to make Padua a home for all our Bruins! None of this would have been possible without their generosity and commitment to our Franciscan mission,” stated Stec.
Phase Two of the Welcome Home Project is now underway. It includes installing a patio near the Northeast Entrance (outside of the Kohuth Atrium) and a reconfiguration of Campus Ministry offices.