Celebrate! WJU Community Day
Wheeling Jesuit University will open its campus for a day-long celebration to share its success with its partners – students, alumni, employees, its neighbors and the people of the city of Wheeling.
Set for Saturday, March 29, WJU Community Day is packed full of events and activities for all ages. There will be science, music and arts programs, academic lectures, research presentations, college and high school athletic events and food at various locations throughout the WJU campus.
The day culminates with a dinner to raise funds for student scholarships, called Gaudiosa (pronounced: gow-de-o-sa) which in Latin means “Joyous feast.”
“We set this day as a chance to invite all of our friends and partners to campus to enjoy all that we have to offer. The works of our students, faculty, athletes and artists will be showcased throughout the day and we hope that everyone in the community will come to campus. We would not be who we are without their help. We are grateful for it,” said WJU President Rev. James Fleming, S.J.
“This is more than an event … it’s a renewed focus on our charism and how we can better serve the city, our students and faculty, our alumni and the greater community,” said Christopher Helmrath, chairman of the WJU board of trustees.
Fleming said throughout history the Jesuits have always been vital and active partners with the cities in which they founded schools. In fact, St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), once said when starting new colleges, “Take special care that you obtain a good and sufficiently large site … large enough for a house and church, and if possible, not too far removed from the conversation of the city.”
Fleming added, “Over the past year, great strides have been made to grow Wheeling Jesuit. The transformation of our physical therapy program to the Stone Center in downtown Wheeling, the installation of our new turf stadium and the partnership with Double J Realty to build apartments along Washington Avenue are signs of our growth. That growth is directly related to our partnership with the city of Wheeling, Regional Economic Development Partnership, our business partners and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, along with our alumni and benefactors.”
Helmrath said, “This is a day to not only remember our history, but also to celebrate where we are going … a day to bring together all the constituents who have been a part of our success and allow them to share in this celebration.”
In addition to the number of free events for all to enjoy, the evening hours will kick off with the fundraising dinner that will support student scholarships, Fleming explained.
WJU Community Day
“WJU Community Day is a chance to show the Ohio Valley the great things happening here on campus and the remarkable education that our students are receiving in the classroom, and in leadership and service activities throughout the area,” said Mark Phillips, WJU chief of staff and chair of the Community Day committee.
Fleming noted that throughout the year, members of the community come and enjoy the facilities and programs that Wheeling Jesuit offers, but Community Day “is our way of setting aside a clear date – in a concrete way, and inviting our neighbors to come and enjoy WJU.”
Phillips added, “The people who work at WJU live in surrounding neighborhoods, shop at local businesses and volunteer at one of our 45 community partners such as the Catholic Neighborhood Center on 18th Street. These close ties mean that we have a unique ability to engage the community in the exchange of knowledge and information in a way that benefits everyone.”
The university will rededicate its Athletic Hall of Fame at 3 p.m. inside the Alma Grace McDonough Center. All 73 members of the hall have been invited back to see the newly decorated facility.
For a complete list of activities, go to www.wju. edu/communityday online.
Gaudiosa – “A
When planners began looking for a name for the fundraising dinner, a name that would set it apart from other events, Fleming said it made sense to find a name that was unique to the Jesuits. For Jesuit communities, members would have a Gaudiosa or joyous feast a few times each year (the Feast of St. Ignatius, vow day, etc.) when the work of all the Jesuit would stop for a day, offering a day of leisure that would culminate with a first-class feast, a Gaudiosa.
At the university, Gaudiosa is an evening of fine food, entertainment and dancing to raise funds for WJU student scholarships.
Currently, more than 700 students depend on scholarships to help fund their undergraduate education at WJU. Largely from the tri-state area, these students are superior students in the classroom, on the stage and on the playing field. They’re leaders on campus, they sing at Masses and give campus tours. In the process, they’re developing compassion and a dedication to serving others – values that make a Jesuit education unique, school officials said.
Those attending the Gaudiosa will see videos of Wheeling Jesuit students who will explain how gifts supporting student scholarship have allowed them to attend the university.
The event will feature entertainment from beginning to end. During the social hour, guests will hear the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra’s string ensemble as cocktails and appetizers are served. A dinner follows, with a menu designed especially for Gaudiosa. Desserts and coffee will be served.
An after-dinner show will feature the River City Brass with singing by WJU graduates Vera Barton-Caro ’82 and Dathan Williams ’82, a regular in off-Broadway performances. Remey Munasifi ’03, a comedian and YouTube sensation, also will perform.
Finally, guests can hit the dance floor to the beat of an Ohio Valley favorite, Legend.
The Gaudiosa planning committee has two honorary chairs: the Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, and John Beilein ’75. Other members include Michael Ferns Sr., Jane Friday ’61, Mary Hamm, Christopher and Susan Helmrath, Bill Hogan, Dr. Carlos Jimenez, Robert Knott ’89, Joe Pangilinan ’88, John ’95 and Libby Espejo Reasbeck ’97, Danny ’98 and Becky Sancomb and Edward Schmitt ’70.
“This is a true celebration for all our partners to enjoy. I look forward to seeing city leaders, business people, parents, faculty and alumni at this dinner as we raise money to support the next generation of Wheeling Jesuit students,” Christopher Helmrath said.
Tickets for Gaudiosa can be purchased by calling 304-243-8166 or online at www.wju.edu/gaudiosa.