January 24, 2014

Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Archbishop’s blessing, Dr. Seuss’ words mark special library dedication

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin blesses the new library at St. Matthew the Apostle School in Indianapolis on Nov 17. Assisting the archbishop during the ceremony is St. Matthew parishioner Loral Tansy. (Submitted photo)

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin blesses the new library at St. Matthew the Apostle School in Indianapolis on Nov 17. Assisting the archbishop during the ceremony is St. Matthew parishioner Loral Tansy. (Submitted photo)

By Briana Stewart

The family members of booklover Paul Lewis were all smiles and tears as Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin strolled around the newly created library adorned with Lewis’ name, blessing it with holy water and singing with the rest of the small crowd.

The space was filled with new shelves, comfortable chairs and a plethora of Dr. Seuss decorations—a designer’s touch that had a deep connection with the Lewis family.

During the dedication speech, Lewis’ son David recalled the quote from Dr. Seuss that he read at his father’s eulogy in 2010: “Don’t be sad it’s over. Be happy that it happened.”

The same snippet of wisdom can be applied to the journey that St. Matthew the Apostle School in Indianapolis underwent with its new library and acceptance into the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library (IMCPL) shared system. Space designer Craig Wetli initiated the project more than a year and a half ago when he noticed how the former reading room for the school was “looking tired.”

With an expert eye due to his experience with working on Info Zone at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in 2000, Wetli began to formulate a plan on how to turn the shabby library into a redefined learning space.

“The goal was to create a cool space that’s inviting and promotes reading and learning,” says Wetli. “What I know is that if you can create a space that is inviting, it’s really a carrot for learning and to get kids to open up a book and discover the joy of reading.”

A year and a half later, that goal was more than complete when the library opened on Nov. 17 for St. Matthew students to learn, read and share. Principal David Smock was proud of what the school had done, especially because last year’s walkathon funds helped make the project possible.

The blessing by Archbishop Tobin was a high priority for him, too.

“We are first and foremost a Catholic school,” the archbishop noted. “[This ceremony] blesses the knowledge God has granted us with, and blesses the talents he gives all of our students, so it is very appropriate.”

With the addition of the new library, students will now have access to thousands of books and thus thousands of undiscovered worlds, facts and ideas. As the list of those involved in the IMCPL shared system shows, St. Matthew is not the only Catholic school taking advantage of this opportunity.

Catholic elementary schools already involved in the Indianapolis system include Central Catholic, Holy Angels, Holy Cross Central, St. Philip Neri, and St. Joan of Arc. High schools have also recognized the value of the system. Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, Cardinal Ritter, Cathedral and Providence Cristo Rey are part of it.

The IMCPL shared system has proven a useful tool for children of all ages, according to St. Joan of Arc librarian Kristen William.

“They [students] are involved in the entire process: from waiting for a book to be written, knowing when it will be released and then requesting the book, so that they can be one of the first to read it,” she said.

The students are even more excited about the wide variety of books they now can access.

“I love reading,” said Toby Bradshaw, a fifth-grade student at St. Joan of Arc School. “It’s so awesome.” †

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