In the summer of 1888, Rev. William O'Hara, the first Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, issued an invitation to the community to join him on Aug. 12 to take part in a simple act of faith that was to have profound consequences for the City of Scranton. Bishop O’Hara planned to bless a single block of granite in St. Peter’s Cathedral.
The invitation read simply, “The Corner Stone of the New College of St. Thomas of Aquinas will be laid with Appropriate Ceremonies on Sunday, Aug. 12 at 3 p.m. You are cordially invited to attend.”
Although the invitation referenced a “new college,” there was not a single classroom, professor or student when the cornerstone was blessed. The “new college” was only a dream to provide education to the sons of the miners and mill workers of the region. It would take Bishop O’Hara four more years to actually open the classroom doors.
Over the years, the University grew to include sons and daughters of people beyond the Lackawanna Valley. As the University’s size and reputation grew, one thing remained constant: its singular devotion to providing an educational experience in the Catholic tradition that will transform the lives of its students.
“Bishop O’Hara’s first act of faith has become emblematic of the spirit of The University of Scranton,” said Kevin P. Quinn, S.J., University president.”He envisioned a better life for the people of the Diocese of Scranton and, over its 125-year history, the University has remained faithful to that mission by inspiring its students, faculty and staff to be men and women for others. His ’new college’ now has a global reach, but it remains rooted in faith and service.”
On Monday, Aug. 12, the University community will be celebrating the founding of the University in the spirit in which it was born, with a special Mass at 11:30 a.m. in the McIlhenny Ballroom of the DeNaples Center, followed by a luncheon on the Dionne Campus Green. This is the first of many events to be held throughout the anniversary year.
For information, contact the Office of Conference and Event Services at (570) 941-6200.
Watch for a new website dedicated to our 125th Anniversary. The site, 125th.scranton.edu, scheduled to launch on Sept. 1, will include a timeline of the University's history, photo galleries and a calendar of 125th Anniversary-related events.