Watch a video of the blessing and dedication ceremony.
Opening the dedication and blessing ceremony, Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs, acknowledged the generous donors who made the opportunity possible.
“This is a magical place, and it’s easy to see why Judy and the late Don Alstadt chose it as a place of retreat, reflection and immersion in nature,” said Iwanenko. “Today, we honor the Alstadts’ commitment to the natural world, to scientific inquiry and to education with the blessing and dedication of this one-of-a-kind Center.”
In his remarks, the Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, J.C.L., Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, went on to say, “How appropriate it is that we gather here today on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi to acknowledge the beauty of this place and dedicate it to God. St. Francis, the patron of ecology, saw the beauty and wonder of God in all of creation. This location, on the banks of the Brokenstraw Creek, may assist us—and many others—to do the same.”
Speaking for the students of Gannon University, Student Government Association President Kendra Walker remarked that she was “overwhelmed with the stories that the Center will help create. This center is a chance for students to step out of the comfort zone that is the classroom and fully immerse themselves and engage in the world around them. Whether this building is used for cutting-edge environmental research or for students to develop their leadership skills through a retreat, it will become an integral part of their story. It will challenge them to think differently, to grow, and ultimately transform their lives for years to come.”
"...we honor the Alstadts’ commitment to the natural world, to scientific inquiry and to education..."
The Center’s most prominent feature might be a 50-foot observation tower that overlooks Brokenstraw Creek and 98 acres of hardwood forest administered by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. In his remarks, President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., called the tower a fitting metaphor for “the far-seeing vision of the Alstadts that brings us here today. It is our honor as representatives of Gannon University to become stewards of this extraordinary place, and to use it with wisdom and care to increase our knowledge of and reverence for God’s creation.
Judith Alstadt (right) reminisces with Gannon students and shares her vision for the Center.