ST. GENEVIEVE GROTTO:
A Collection of Remembrance Stories
Remarks at the Relocation Celebration, October 12, 2013, Carolina Day School
by Kieta Osteen-Cochrane, SGP ’60, Volunteer “Save the Grotto” committee
DEDICATION OF THE ST. GENEVIEVE GROTTO
Ladies and gentlemen, members of the Board, alumni and friends, thank you for joining us on this very happy day, to celebrate the stone by stone by stone relocation of the St. Genevieve’s grotto to Carolina Day School.
How did this happen? In February this year, AB Tech president, Dr. Hank Dunn, and Susan Haldane in the Foundation office contacted me that construction near the grotto could likely start within three months. Dr. Dunn and Susan had already helped us with a separate “Save the Ivy” project, to remove the Ivy building (SGP/GH gymnasium/auditorium) from the demolition list two years ago. Turning to the Preservation Society in Asheville, Executive Director Jack Thomson and the board for guidance, we were immediately supported with exploratory meetings, advice, and service by the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County (PSABC) as fiscal agent to receive donations during the solicitation of donors and a site search. A final committee of five was formed and are here today: Melinda Farr Brown, Priscilla Fortner Lloyd, Kieta Osteen-Cochrane ‘60, Dasha Morgan ’61, and Brenda Lunsford Lilly ’69. Ad Hoc members Kiki Gennett Henry ’59 and Bob Lalley SG/GH ’73 helped with fund raising, and Bob also donated the dogwoods and roses in memory of his mother, Mrs. Edith Feliu de Lalley. The white dogwoods and red roses are also school colors. Finally, Dale Slusser, PSABC board member, who created a site plan and drawings for ADA compliance.
We are also grateful to attorney Jack Stevens for pro bono work and to Rob Neufeld of the Asheville Citizen Times for his many articles on the Ivy building and the grotto; in addition, we thank David and Katrina Morgan and Dasha Morgan for a dozen large free fund-raising ads, with photos of progress, in the Tribune and still running; Dave Bradley’s Stone Company for consultation, Bill Westcott of the Preservation Society and Dr. Cecile Marie Sastre, archaeologist, for initial consultations on the best moving methods. Further appreciation goes to Carolina Day School, Head of School Tom Trigg and the board for enthusiastic and reverent appreciation of the grotto and the legacy it symbolizes. Finally to CDS CFO Robert McArthur and Ashly Maag, CDS Director of Advancement, for over six months of weekly and often daily problem-solving and collaboration.
We still need donors to fund remaining costs and will appreciate your further contributions. Checks may be made to Carolina Day School, marked for the SGP Grotto Project.
The grotto was moved stone by stone by stone and rebuilt by Phil’s Stoneworks. The plaque behind me inside the grotto was installed with truly tender loving care by Daryl MacMahan of MacMahan Monuments.
This is the third rebuilding of the grotto. The original was built in 1912 by Henri Eudore Octave Artus, the French gardener at St. Genevieve’s. His great-grandson, Albert Artus, is with us today. The plaque reads:
“The Religious of Christian Education, an order of nuns founded in 1817 in Echauffour, Normandy, France, began Hillside Convent here in 1908. They moved to the Victoria Inn in 1910 renaming it St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines preparatory school. For eight decades they prepared students from the region and the world for their roles in society, with a deep and lasting impact.
This replica of the sacred Grotto in Lourdes, France, built on the St. Genevieve’s campus in 1912, stood for 100 years as a place of reflection, prayer and inspiration. It is relocated here through the generosity of alumni and friends of the school to honor the continuing legacy of nuns, lay teachers and students of St. Genevieve's, Gibbons Hall and St. Genevieve-Gibbons Hall.”
Mother Suzanne Deplanck and founding sisters were invited to the United States in 1900 to work at an orphanage in Wheeling, WVA. In 1907 they responded to a call from an Asheville doctor for companions to women patients in a convalescent home here. The doctor expected nurses, which they were not, and they shortly turned their goals toward starting a convent school. They bought the house at 48 Starnes Ave. and began Hillside Convent. It was named for the Hillside Estate purchased by the order in 1888 in England, when the group was forced to relocate the motherhouse from France to England during the nineteenth century anti-clerical era in France.
I would like to call the founders’ names now, as it is said that as long as your name is called, you are remembered. I may not get through this without tears, so …let’s all shed a tear together in remembrance of these brave women:
Reverend Mother Suzanne Deplanck, Sisters Albertine Floret, Naomi Mouquet, Mabel Monk and Adeline Bisson.
Some of us remember a few of these nuns who were elderly when we were very small children…very, very small.
The school grew quickly to 120 students and the nuns moved to two homes on Main Street. By 1910 they bought and moved to the large Victoria Inn on the present-day AB Tech campus. Expanding there over the years to K-12 with boarding students from around the world, a college, a secretarial school, and by 1949 a boys’ school, Gibbons Hall. Daniel Pinto was the first GH headmaster; Joe Lalley was the next and longest serving headmaster. Joe spoke to us earlier, and we are glad is with us today. While he may not like the term “living legacy,” he certainly is that.
Many alums will remember Mother Margaret Potts, a 1924 graduate and high school principal for many years, later Mother Superior (one of 13) from 1962 to 1967. One of her many accomplishments was an epic poem, “The Watch of St. Genevieve,” set to music, conducted by Dr. Frank Edwinn, and performed by the Glee Club, of which some of us here were members. In that long poem about Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, Mother Potts wrote about the seeds of character, which seeds we plant and rededicate here today. It is our hope, our fervent hope and our immense joy, that this place will inspire, console and motivate students and teachers for another 100 years. In Mother Potts’ words from the poem:
“…..plant our tiny seeds of effort…cut away all falsehood, fear and pettiness so that we may grow tall and straight” and as we grow outward to the world “ make our branches curve low bending to be kind, and whisper softly words of peace, as pine trees point to heaven, lift our hearts and thoughts above.”
To that idealism, and especially for today, a commemorative poem has been written by Mona Hanrahan [TA1] for this celebration. Mona is a 1964 graduate of SGP and still close to the Lalley family. Phi Beta Kappa at UNC Chapel Hill, she is a poet and professional violinist. Mona lives in Rabun County, GA, with her husband, Frank, where she draws inspiration from nature and from the myths, stories and legends read in her childhood. Mona cannot be here today, but has asked me to read this poetic gift on her behalf. It bridges the legacy of the past into the future.
by Mona Hanrahan
Come, Dear Children
And spread your wings.
Always be true
To your special dreams.
Dance gracefully under
These whispering pines
For this is a place
Where the sun always shines.
Listen, carefully, to your heart.
Listen, carefully, to the wind.
In between you may see
A rainbow…around the bend.
The beating of wings,
The song of a bird,
Or was it the angels
Perhaps we have heard?
Bring your joys.
Bring your pain.
Your heart’s dear wish
Is never in vain.
The phoenix will fly.
The mourning doves cry.
Here, spring is forever
For roses don’t lie.
Thorns must be there,
They protect the sweet bloom.
Our lives will unfold
As the weaving of the loom.
The crescent moon smiles
As she kisses a star,
A whippoorwill sings,
As it calls from afar.
“The memories in these stones
Will be yours forever more.
Will be yours today and
Tomorrow and tomorrow.”
Here we can dream.
Here we are free.
Here is a place
Where our hearts can agree.
We’re going down the primrose path.
Knowing it will always last.
Please spread some petals as you pass.
We’re going down the primrose path.