Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A College, a Roman Catholic Saint and the Indy 500

This Memorial Day weekend will mark the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. In honor of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," I felt it was only appropriate to write about Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, located just outside Terre Haute, Indiana.

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

How many colleges can boast they have a saint on their campus? SMWC has a shrine, which includes the remains of Mother Theodore Guerin, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Saint Mother Guerin emigrated from France in 1839 at the request of the Diocese of Vincennes, Indiana. Along with 5 other French nuns, she set roots outside Terre Haute, Indiana to minister. Her accomplishments include founding a new religious order (Sisters of Providence) and numerous schools in the Indiana/Illinois area, including the eventual Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She has been attributed to two miracles, one taking place in the church itself, allowing her to be canonized a saint in the Roman Catholic Church in 2006.

The Mission of the Sister's of Providence

St. Mary-of-the-Woods College is Indiana's oldest Catholic college. It was founded in 1840 by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, founder of the Sisters of Providence. The school is still run by the congregation with nearly 300 sisters residing on campus grounds. In 1984, the campus began offering co-educational graduate school programs and in 2015 began offering men the opportunity to enroll in their campus based programs. The campus also has a vibrant online education program.

College Ring

The SMWC ring is the most recognizable image of the college. The tradition began as a way to honor the academic success and sacrifice of the students, while showing their pride and loyalty to SMWC. There are two ceremonies connected with the rings. Ring Day occurs during junior year where the students are bestowed their rings. The other is the Oakleaf Ceremony where students are inducted into the alumnae association by turning their rings around, such as an acorn turns into an oak tree.

School of Equine Studies

By now, you have been reading this post and still wondering, where is the Indianapolis 500 connection? The School of Equine Studies is named after current Chairwoman of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mari Hulman George. Ms. George, along with her mother, Mary Fendrich Hulman, are alumnae of SMWC.

At SMWC, women can pursue two paths in Equine Science: General Studies or Equine Training & Instruction. The General Studies program allows students to explore different areas of equine study through a variety of courses.

The Equine Training & Instruction major is for students to become either a trainer or instructor of horses. Throughout the coursework, students are exposed to different philosophies, techniques and approaches to training and instructing. These courses can be designed specifically for either training or instructing, or a combination of both.


When you are watching the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday and hear Mari Hulman George command, "Ladies and Gentlemen...Start Your Engines!" make sure to think of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.


If you would like to know more about Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, or other colleges or equine programs, contact us.


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