Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
– Psalm 127, ready by Sr. Judith Diltz, PHJC provincial
By Chad Kebrdle
DONALDSON – For the second time in 11 months, a formidable crowd of Ancilla College supporters converged to witness a blessing ceremony. In August 2015, it was to witness the Most Reverend Bishop Kevin Rhoades bless the first residence hall. On July 18, 2016, the ceremony officially opened the private college’s second residence hall and blessed the dining commons, which was completed in December.
Before the blessing, the first two buildings’ names were announced. The first residence hall was named Hardesty Hall after James Hardesty who, even posthumously, has been a major donor to the college. On hand to give comment was his nephew and Ancilla board of trustees’ member, Chuck Hardesty. “I know my uncle is looking down and smiling,” Hardesty said.
The dining hall and student life center was dubbed Zirkle Commons for Ancilla President Dr. Ken Zirkle, who has been primarily responsible for the college’s momentous growth. “I still have trouble wrapping my head around this,” Zirkle said. “This is truly a great honor.”
Others on hand to offer congratulations and well-wishes included: Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter; Lauren Varga, representing Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN); and Chris Lee for U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-2nd).
Also offering remarks were Christopher J. Murphy III chairman of the board and CEO of 1st Source Bank, who helped secure funding for the building projects and Bill Kinder of Michael Kinder & Sons, Inc., responsible for construction of the three new buildings.
Sisters Michele Dvorak and Carole Langhauser, of the PHJC leadership team, provided music and prayers for the event.
The blessing itself was performed by Bishop Rhoades, appointed the Ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend in 2009, by Pope Benedict. After speaking to the group and leading them into prayer, Bishop Rhoades walked through the two newest buildings with holy water, held by Campus Minister Albert Escanilla. During this time, the group toured the new buildings and enjoyed refreshments in the dining hall.
The project is extremely significant for the college and the local community because Ancilla traditionally only accepted commuter students. The addition of on-campus residence halls and dining increased enrollment by 21 percent in 2015. The college is on track for a similar increase this year.
Ancilla College (www.ancilla.edu), part of The Center at Donaldson, offers 25 associate degrees, eight one-year certificates and has 20 athletic teams. Since 1937, the college has been a sponsored ministry of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. It is a small, private, liberal arts school located two miles south of U.S. 30 on Union Road near Plymouth, Indiana.