The statue of Archbishop John Ireland, founder of the University of St. Thomas, returned to its home on the lower quadrangle yesterday afternoon.
A fixture on the quadrangle since 1986, it was removed during construction of the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex and placed in storage. It is located now along the north-south sidewalk, just south of its former site.
The statue of Ireland was created by the late St. Paul sculptor Michael Price using senior class gift funds raised by the class of 1986.
Below is the text inscribed on a brass plaque on the base of the statue:
ARCHBISHOP JOHN IRELAND
CHURCHMAN, EDUCATOR, STATESMAN
Unsettled forest until William Finn chose it for his farmstead in 1849,
this site became the home of the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, founded
in 1885 by Archbishop John Ireland. From this institution, which began
with a single building with 62 lay and clerical students, evolved
The Saint Paul Seminary, St. Thomas Academy, Nazareth Hall, Saint John
Vianney College Seminary and the College (now University) of St. Thomas.
Central to Ireland’s vision and since realized through thousands of alumni
was his desire to provide for the spiritual, intellectual, cultural and
vocational needs of European immigrants, many of whom he helped to
settle along the rapidly growing railroad lines developed by James J. Hill.
Today’s emphasis on a values-centered and career-oriented education was
born in Ireland’s comprehensive mission for St. Thomas: a program of
classical studies; preparation for careers in ministry, law, medicine
and other professions; and an environment that would foster lifelong
learning, a critical habit of mind and a pattern of virtuous living
for all educated here.
One of the most influential American churchmen of his day, Ireland was
known for his energy, optimism and warmth, and for the mutual love he
strongly encouraged between church and country.
The College of St. Thomas, in observance of its 1985 centennial,
commissioned St. Paul sculptor Michael Price to create this bronze
statue of Archbishop John Ireland.
Strength of character and determination are reflected in his face and
posture. His crisp frock coat was typical dress for gentlemen and
clerics of his era; his crumpled trousers and muddied boots are symbols
of his ceaseless efforts on behalf of his community.
“I seek no backward voyage across the sea of time; I will ever press
forward. I believe that God intends the present to be better than the past,
and the future to be better than the present.” – Archbishop John Ireland
Virginia Donahoe donated this marker in memory of her father, Dr. Will
Donahoe, a devoted St. Thomas alumnus.