(Published May 1, 2009)
By Sister Lucille Herman
Marymount Alumni Director
Overlooking the city of Salina, KS from its majestic hilltop perch is a special place called Marymount often referred to as the “castle” on the hill! In 1922, this college, the dream of Mother Antoinette Cuff, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, KS, opened its doors. However, as stated in the April 23, 1989 issue of The Kansas City Star, “The stone tower, standing six stories above the Marymount College campus was not built with mortality in mind” and so it closed in May 1989.
Mother Antoinette was an educator. She established and taught in many parochial schools in Kansas. But, when she dreamed of building Marymount, some referred to it as a white elephant. However, it became Mother Antoinette’s crowning achievement. The Salina Journal quoted Sister Evangeline Thomas, the college historian, as saying about Mother Antoinette’s last trip to the campus before her death in 1947: “Drive me around the sunken garden once more so I can see the white elephant that has become a little pony.”
Marymount was established as an all-girls school. Mother Antoinette’s intent was to open a college that would give young women an opportunity for a liberal and fine arts education. Even though men had graduated from Marymount before 1968, that year a residence hall was opened for male students to live on campus, ushering in the era of being a co-ed college.
Among Marymount College’s strengths were a quality and fully accredited School of Nursing, an outstanding and widely acclaimed drama department, a long record of sponsorship of community cultural events, a successful night school program, an excellent music department with involvement in the Youth Symphony and Salina Symphony orchestras, and a strong and successful sports program.
Even though the college has been closed since May 1989, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia and the Marymount alumni, faculty and staff identify with “Forever Marymount” which became a slogan after the college closed. Marymount continues to live all over the country and world through its dedicated alumni. These alumni are keeping the flame of the spirit of Marymount alive in every imaginable profession and way of life. As Sister Monica Schneider reflected on Marymount’s 67 years: “The school was the fulfillment of Mother Antoinette’s dreams. It was a place with a friendly atmosphere…a place where love would leave no room for fear. Yes, it is ‘Forever Marymount,’ because Marymount is people, not buildings.” To this day, these “people” keep connected through the All-school Marymount Alumni Reunions, class reunions, and the newspaper of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
During this year of celebrating the 125th Jubilee of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia being present in the Salina Diocese, we can proudly look upon Marymount Alumni as one of “our crowning achievements.”