If you've watched HGTV or, you know, done some work of your own, you know there’s a lot that goes into a building project. That’s true, too, at Mayo Clinic, where teams create everything from offices for worker bees like us to the specialized spaces where patients find hope and healing. And while made-for-TV projects may be finished when the paint is dry, for some spaces at Mayo Clinic, there’s one final, important step before opening for business: a blessing.
“Blessings of new or remodeled spaces have been a tradition” at Mayo Clinic’s Saint Marys campus “from the beginning,” says Sister Tierney Trueman, coordinator of the Mayo Clinic Values Council. The blessings provide “a way of ‘consecrating’ the particular space as sacred space.” And those who will work in the space, and some of the staff involved in the building project, are invited to participate. Such was the case for the recent blessing of a new suite of operating rooms on the Saint Marys campus.
Sister Tierney tells us each blessing ceremony begins with a psalm prayer for the season. “New/remodeled space is always a change,” she says, and the seasons “lead us into appreciating change, and the gifts that each season brings.” The ceremonies include prayers for the staff who will serve in the space -- “that they may never tire of providing compassionate care.” And for the patients -- “hoping to experience full recovery from their injuries or illness.”
Each ceremony also includes a series of prayers designed to help participants “remember our particular Mayo/Franciscan history” as well as those “who have gone before us to build the foundations on which we build today.” That aspect of the service had a special resonance for those gathered for the blessing of the operating room suites. That’s because the group was missing one important member: Chuck Olson, the architect who designed the space. Chuck passed away unexpectedly in April, as the project was nearing completion. The blessing ceremony was an opportunity to remember Chuck and honor him with a Karis Award, which is presented to staff who “live out the Mayo Clinic Values in an extraordinary way.”
Chuck was “one of Mayo Clinic’s most outstanding professionals,” Sister Tierney told those gathered at the service. He was “a wise, master builder” and a “gifted architect” who could “conceptualize” a space and then design, plan and program it. She spoke of his “incredible craftsmanship” and noted that he didn’t just build spaces: he was “another kind of master builder” who also “knew how to build persons of character, the living stones of any institution.”
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