by Patrick P. Marek
As a Saint Mary’s student, I had my academic, spiritual, and social life positively transformed by the school’s dedication to outstanding education by the Christian Brothers and the teaching philosophy of Jean Baptiste de La Salle. In the late 70s, when I was there, the school delivered an outstanding education despite an austere budget and declining enrollment. I was particularly pleased, as an alumnus, to witness the magical metamorphosis of the Gostomski Fieldhouse on campus into an exclusive nightclub and restaurant for the Red Carpet Centennial Gala Saturday evening.
Saint Mary’s University certainly put the “Gee!” into Gala. Arriving guests were treated like visiting royalty. We walked a star-studded red carpet that led to a stunning cocktail reception held in a room that could have been the lobby of the Continental Hotel in Chicago. There we were treated to the John Paulson Big Band, incredible appetizers from Chartwells — that included lime and sweet chili shrimp rosemary skewers — ample comfortable silver couches, and amazing decorations, including iconic chandeliers. Best of all, the room was packed with Winona residents, alumni, Christian Brothers, and Saint Mary’s educators and staff, all there to have the time of their lives.
When the curtain was drawn, we entered a dining room that positively dripped elegance. The menu was a gourmet delight, with a main course that featured roast tenderloin filled with brie and blue cheese, roasted rosemary pears, sweet potato red pepper cakes, ginger kissed snap peas, white truffle and chive Yukon gold mash, carrots Vichy, and caraway leek souffle.
Saint Mary’s alumnus, Bill Lunn, who is KSTP-TV news anchor, was the master of ceremonies. The Heritage Award was presented to Winonans Michael and Joette Gostomski, followed by stirring remarks by Saint Mary’s President Brother William Mann. Brother William showcased the one hundred years of the school. He also shared inspiring stories about students whose lives were dramatically changed by the Saint Mary’s experience. These presentations were followed by an incredible fireworks show synchronized to music that delighted the crowd. Finally, the evening was capped off with a concert by “The Voice” finalist and Minnesota native Nicholas David.
Although the glitz, glamour, elegance, and entertainment of the Centennial Gala was certainly memorable, it was the quiet of the Saint Thomas Moore Chapel during the Centennial Mass before the festivities that truly captured what sets Saint Mary’s University apart from the rest. The evening began with prayer, music, reflection, and thanksgiving for a dream that began on Terrace Heights 100 years ago. Saint Mary’s has grown over that century into a top tier university with over 40,000 alumni, and campuses around the world. The future is bright indeed.
Congratulations to Brother William Mann, as well as Centennial Honorary Co-Chairs Mike and Claudian Dooley, and Jack and Mary Ann Remick. Centennial Celebration Co-Chairs were Dr. Steven Titus and Michael Charron. Centennial Celebration Director was Meg Richtman. Curt Coshenet of Chartwells was responsible for the delicious repast. Thanks as well to all the staff and volunteers who made the Red Carpet Centennial Gala the event of the century.