Mercy Mondays: A theatrical approach to 75th anniversary opening ceremony, call for volunteers
As we near the beginning of the 2022-2023 academic year, the University is also nearing the start of Salve Regina’s 75th anniversary kickoff celebration. Encompassing both Mercy Week and Fall Festival Weekend, the celebration will run from Monday, Sept. 19 through Tuesday, Sept. 27 and will include events and programming that showcase how Salve Regina is fulfilling the mercy promise of giving light and working for a more harmonious, just and merciful world.
For a full schedule and to register for all events, visit www.salve.edu/75th.
On Friday, Sept. 23 at 6 p.m., the Salve Regina community will come together for “Carrying the Light of Mercy: 75th Anniversary Opening Ceremony,” inspired by the ritual of WaterFire, an artistic event that celebrates community and beauty in Providence, Rhode Island.
For “Carrying the Light of Mercy,” the University will host a grand-scale illuminated walk highlighting Salve Regina’s mercy heritage and history. Beginning at the gates of Gerety Hall, this artistic storytelling experience will showcase students, alumni, staff, faculty and community members, who will lead attendees along a a path lit by torches, bonfires and candles with reenactments, song and dance to share Salve Regina’s story and Catherine McAuley’s lasting legacy.
Mary Beth Pelletier ’06, ’12 (M), program manager for the Office of Mission Integration, said that she and Dr. Jayme Hennessy, professor in the Department of Religious and Theological Studies, decided to approach the opening ceremony like a theatrical production rather than an event.
“This opening ceremony came from a brainstorming session,” she said. “Jayme Hennessy and I started ‘riffing,’ if you will, off of each other, and the experience that will be the opening ceremony was born.”
After Pelletier began to craft a script for the experience – with the help of Dr. John Quinn, professor in the Department of History – she built the rest of the production team, which includes Hennessy; Michael Potter, assistant superintendent of grounds; and Mackenzie Robichaud ’24, double major in psychology and dance.
“I respect them so highly, and I’m so grateful for their partnership,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed dreaming and musing with them. The last time I directed something was ‘Into the Woods,’ Salve Regina’s spring musical in 2020, which was cancelled a week from performances due to the pandemic. Their encouragement, support and creativity has given me the nerve to use those muscles again.”
Pelletier said that Hennessy brings a deep connection to the theme – “The fire within all of us” – and that she has been invaluable in reviewing drafts of the script to maintain this theme. Hennessy will also be providing traditional Irish music at the event.
Potter provides both the artistic vision and technical know-how of incorporating lighting and fire into the production team. He is giving the ceremony a set, complete with bonfires, which will serve as storytelling stops as well as whimsical lighting within the trees. His keen eye for aesthetics will make this sunset event shine.
Robichaud is choreographing and performing in movement pieces and leading students from the Dance Club throughout the ceremony. Pelletier said that she is naturally enthusiastic, brings a joy and charm to her work and has the full confidence of the director.
“Jayme, Michael and Mackenzie truly carry the light of mercy everywhere they go,” Pelletier said. “Their light is palpable, authentic and truly a gift to Salve and this process.”
Call for performers
Pelletier has a call out to all staff, faculty, students, alumni and community partners to participate in this special event. Anyone who is interested in performing – musicians, actors and dancers in particular – or being involved with the opening ceremony can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Carrying the Light of Mercy: 75th Anniversary Opening Ceremony” is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. and conclude before the annual Hunger Concert, which will begin at 7 p.m. on the Gerety Hall lawn. The rain date is 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24.
For a full schedule and to register for all 75th anniversary events, visit www.salve.edu/75th.
This post is part of an ongoing series called Mercy Mondays that highlights Salve Regina’s dedication to its Mercy Mission. Search the tag Mercy Mission for more updates on the Mercy branches of Salve Regina.
Featured photo by Getty Images/Liudmila Chernetska