The history of the Beaudry Shrine begins with Robert Beaudry ’50
By John Walsh
Many members of the John Carroll community have prayed, reflected, meditated, studied, or become engaged in front of the Beaudry Shrine. However, they might not know the history behind it or the legacy of Chicagoan Robert Beaudry ’50.
During his senior year at Carroll, Beaudry was president of Alpha Sigma Nu and the Boosters Club and was included in the Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities recognition program. At commencement, he was awarded the Sodality Man of the Year Award for character and service to the University. (The Beaudry Award, given each year to a JCU student who exemplifies the ideal of Jesuit education, is named in his honor.)
“Robert Beaudry was an outstanding young man,” said Fr. Joseph Schell, S.J., a philosophy professor during the time Beaudry attended JCU and former president of the University in the late 1960s and early ’70s. “He was dedicated to serving others, very well liked, friendly, and intelligent.”
But tragically, Beaudry was killed in an airplane crash in Pennsylvania in 1951 when he was a law-school student at Georgetown University. He and two friends were en route to Chicago from Washington, D.C., flying home for a visit when the plane crashed near Pittsburgh. He was killed instantly. An editorial in The Carroll News for April 6, 1951, reflected student reaction to Beaudry’s death:
“Those of us who knew Bob Beaudry – you couldn’t go to school here very long without knowing him – were shocked by his death. Because of his youth, we thought his life ended without his achieving final success. We were wrong. … Bob had a job to do, and he did it well. He showed us how to live. … After all, Bob Beaudry spent the last years of his life working unselfishly for each of us. That should make us all pretty humble.”
Because Beaudry’s name and memory represented the intangible quality of school spirit, it was decided to build a memorial in his name. On Oct. 28, 1951, a shrine in honor of Our Lady, Mother of Grace was dedicated and erected with the financial help of Robert Beaudry’s family and friends, as well as the hard work of Fr. John Weber, S.J., and his associates. More than 400 people – including Beaudry’s girlfriend, Thomasina Collins of East Cleveland, whom he planned to marry – attended the dedication, which was part of Parents’ Day Weekend. Fr. Fred Welfle, S.J., president of JCU at the time, celebrated Mass on campus to begin the ceremonies.
“This not only will add to the beauty of our campus, but it also will serve to invigorate the spiritual life of the school,” said Fr. Welfle, when he dedicated the shrine.
Later, there was a program in the school auditorium with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. A reception for parents and teachers ended the day’s events. A writer in The Carroll News commented on the occasion: “Perhaps the story of Bob Beaudry will grow into legend; undoubtedly, the memory of him will never fade. His memorial will remain a symbol of one man’s love for his school and his faith.”
Years later after his death, in 1976, a memorial plaque to Fr. Charles Castellano, S.J., was placed on the Beaudry Shrine. A friend of Beaudry, Fr. Castellano took care of the rose garden near the shrine. Fr. Casty, who taught Latin and Greek, was the last surviving member of the original Jesuits who opened the University Heights campus in 1935.
The shrine – which was placed intentionally in one of the busiest areas of campus, next to the Boler School of Business, to make it easily accessible for a quick visit throughout the day – was designed to afford students, alumni, and friends an ideal outdoor setting for private meditation and visits or group devotions. It was meant to inspire a new campus tradition for students to seek Mary’s assistance and venerate her.
The Beaudry memorial was defined by two phases – the shrine itself and the stone court in front of it.
The shrine’s architecture is English Gothic, matching the style of the campus. The structure – which is 13 feet high, 9.5 feet wide, and 3.5 feet deep – is made of Collindale shale brick and Indiana limestone. The gabled slate roof is supported by exposed, hand-carved chamfered oak rafters, which rest on 10 projecting oak brackets. Beneath the front rafters is an arched, rectangular reveal with a stone shelf where the stone statue of Our Lady, Mother of Grace rests. A stone ledge, which is supported by corbel brickwork, projects from the front wall below the shelf. On either side, two bronze tablets – one marks the dedication of the shrine to Our Mother of Grace, the other signifies the shrine as a memorial – are anchored to the brick wall. A stone cross is offset in the arched brick wall beneath the rear rafters. Lastly, an automatic illumination system – including five reflector floodlights concealed by the oak rafters – lights the shrine every evening from dusk until midnight.
No longer there now, a polychrome stone court, which was 40 feet by 20 feet, was flanked by four 6-foot stone offsets that held four carved stone benches. Three flagstone sidewalks led to the stone court, and the surrounding areas were relandscaped with new lawns and a formal English evergreen garden.
The senior betrothal ceremony, which started at John Carroll in 1957 (it became part of the commencement program in 1958), is inextricably linked to the shrine. Following the ceremony, couples joined other seniors and their dates at the Student Activities Center for the formal senior dinner dance, which was the closing social function of their college careers.
The betrothal ceremony, which dates back to Roman and Jewish customs, is a simple ritual involving the blessing of each engagement ring. The promises repeated serve to remind the couple of the solemnity of marriage and the seriousness of their engagement. The promises of engagement weren’t binding because young ladies could still exercise their right to change their minds. The custom included a procession (the couples usually dressed in summer formals) to the shrine, the exchange of promises of fidelity, and the blessing of engagement rings. The promises were a public method of announcing an engagement under religious and campus auspices. Betrothals peaked in 1964 with 46 but plummeted to nine by 1974.
A modern-day addition
Presently, the area in front of the shrine where the polychrome stone court used to be has been beautified with the addition of a fountain, thanks to the class of 1956. The idea for the fountain came from Al DeGulis ’56, a retired investment banker and former JCU board member who had visited many college campuses that featured fountains. He realized John Carroll didn’t have a fountain, so he set out to change that. He and his classmates, including John Boler and Jack Breen, raised money to buy and install the fountain, which was completed in 2013.
“I didn’t have a specific idea of where to put the fountain, but I didn’t want it to be hidden behind a dorm,” DeGulis says. “I wanted it to be in a public place. It was up to the University to choose a spot for it.” JCU
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New Saint Ignatius Plaza to be dedicated this fall
Just across the quad from the Beaudry Shrine, the University will add history to another campus landmark – the statue of Saint Ignatius.
Two University departments had two different ideas that merged into one to form the new Saint Ignatius of Loyola Plaza, which is located in front of the Saint Francis Chapel. Facilities needed to make repairs and renovate the plaza, and the university advancement division wanted to recognize donors physically somewhere on campus. The two ideas melded into one in the form of the new plaza. While planning it, the University looked into similar projects that were done at Xavier University and Allegheny College and took them into consideration. Cleveland architect Berj Shakarian designed the plaza to provide a setting for memory, meaning, reflection, and community. It will respect and enhance the existing Saint Ignatius monument, a gift from the class of 1962 on the occasion of their 35th reunion, with a Latin Cross configuration to create a University landmark. Other details of the plaza include:
• A staggered cross that symbolizes the suffering of Christ for humanity.
• A social area with a grouping of four benches illustrating the four vows of Saint Ignatius: poverty, chastity, and obedience to Christ and the pope.
• A round table and stools that allow for reflection and reading.
• Three-dimensional letters at the foundation promenade depict the Jesuits’ motto: Ad majorem Dei gloriam, (AMDG), which means for the greater glory of God.
• A fountain and sculptural trough allow for water flowing in thin sheets, which represents the wellspring of life.
After the advancement division promoted the plaza, the project grew considerably. Gifts and pledges for the plaza from more than 1,800 donors totaled more than $470,000, and net proceeds will support the Campus Ministry department. The plaza includes:
• 1,332 bricks;
• 59 pavers;
• 4 wire benches;
• 4 letters – AMDG;
• 1 poets table; and
• 1 fountain.
A ceremonial groundbreaking, which included major donors for the 1964 Memorial Fountain, occurred during reunion weekend. Construction began right after reunion, and the plaza was completed this summer before students returned to campus. A dedication will take place Sunday, Sept. 28 at 9:30 during homecoming weekend just before Mass.
Read more about the plaza.
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