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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ground-Breaking and "Ground-Re-Breaking"

HMML on October 2, 2013

The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library ("HMML") is physically housed in the Bush Center which is undergoing a little reconstructive surgery over the next week or so, as we repair a few leaky spots in the concrete.  However, we are open for business as usual!

This event, however, brought back images of an earlier groundbreaking, in 1975, when the Library first became an separate location of its own.  Below is an account of the first groundbreaking, on April 8, 1975, as reported in the ANNALS OF MMML (vol. V, no. 3).  The MMML (or Monastic Manuscript Microfilm Library) was re-dubbed the "Hill Monastic Manuscript Library" in 1976 and then the "Hill Museum & Manuscript Library" in 2004.

Happy reading!

April 8, 1975 (All quotes below are from the ANNALS of MMML):

"The GROUNDBREAKING ceremony for the new MMML building takes place today. Guests of honor at the luncheon which preceded the ceremony include the R. Reverend JOHN EIDENSCHINK, O.S.B., Abbot of St. John’s Abbey and Chancellor of St. John’s University, the Very Reverend MICHAEL BLECKER, O.S.B., President of St. John’s University, the Reverend OLIVER KAPSNER, O.S.B., Director Emeritus of MMML’s Field Operations, Dr. A. A. HECKMAN, Past President of the Hill Family Foundation, now known as the Northwest Area Foundation, and Mr. JOHN TAYLOR, Executive Director of the Northwest Area Foundation. The honored guests and the professional, secretarial and clerical staff members are welcomed by Dr. JULIAN G. PLANTE, Director of the Monastic Manuscript Microfilm Library. "
Fr. Michael Blecker, OSB, and Dr. Julian Plante dig the first soil on the place that will become HMML.

"In brief remarks after the luncheon, Dr. Plante and Abbot John recall the assistance of many persons in the early days of the project which made possible the success of MMML and pays tribute in particular to Father Oliver’s perseverance in the face of initial difficulties and to Abbot Baldwin Dworschak’s valuable assistance in securing the good will and cooperation of many Austrian abbeys. Father Michael speaks in recognition of the accomplishments of MMML and thanks Dr. Julian Plante for his efforts and leadership which have created a world-renowned research center at St. John’s University. Father Oliver recalls that the groundbreaking ceremony is taking place one day before the tenth anniversary of MMML’s beginning its microfilming project in Austria. "

"After the luncheon, the guests go to the site of the new building, which had earlier been cleared of its cover of snow by a university bulldozer. At the site, the Reverend ROLAND BEHRENDT, O.S.B., reads as a lesson the passage in praise of monastic scribes taken from An Introduction to Divine and Human Readings by Cassiodorus Senator. Abbot John reads the following prayer composed for this occasion:
God, our Father,

you have blessed men and women
with the desire to discover, to create, to think, speak and write 
and to hand on their precious heritage through word and symbol
from one generation to the next.

We thank you for this gift.

Today, as we begin to build a place of shelter and study
for a fragile part of our inheritance,
we ask you to look with kindness on our benefactors,
and on those who have planned and designed the building that will stand here.

Protect those who will labor in its construction;
enrich those who will work and study within its walls
so that in all things you may be glorified.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. AMEN. "
Dr. Julian Plante joking with John Taylor from the Northwest Area Foundation.

"Father Michael and Dr. Plante turn the first clods of earth and pass the shovels to Dr. Heckman, Father Oliver, Mr. Taylor and to Father JAMES TINGERTHAL, O.S.B., and Mr. ORLAND JELLUM, of the Physical Plant department of the University."

 The sentiments of the prayer above are well worth remembering as we approach HMML's fiftieth anniversary of its preservation work:

"Protect those who will labor in its construction;
enrich those who will work and study within its walls
so that in all things you may be glorified."

Amen to that.