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part of the culture that is Catholic identity. The blur of familiarity
becomes part of the Immaculata identity as faculty, students and
alumni mark the calendar by recurring traditional events.
In the fall semester of every academic year, Charter Day re-
minds the University community of its beginning and the specific
roots from which this venture has sprung. The story of Mother
Camilla Maloney and her desire to build a college for women on
her favorite hill in Chester County is retold to each new class.
Often the story is connected with the celebration of the found-
ing of the IHM Sisters in 1845. Both anniversaries occur in the
same week in November, and remembering the need for religious
schools, recognized by the pioneers of the westward movement,
helps one grasp the impetus for education that travelled eastward
from Michigan. The spirit lives today in the works of two IHM
congregations in Pennsylvania, each offering university education
at Marywood and Immaculata.
The Immaculata vision began when Mother Camilla provided
courses leading to state certification for the IHM Sisters. She
made the Motherhouse, formerly in West Chester, a center for
weekend and summer classes, taught by professors from West
Chester Normal School, the University of Pennsylvania and St.
Charles Seminary. An early advertisement in the
clearly indicates that Mother Camilla’s vision also
embraced the residents of Chester County, and from 1906 to 1908,
she negotiated with area farmers to purchase the hill, a total of
eight farms. Her dream of a “Renaissance palace” stands on that
very hill today, and her tenacity in view of many objections has
proved fruitful, in spite of those who could not understand her
building a school “so far from Philadelphia.” The school opened in
1914 when the academy moved from West Chester into the newly
constructed Villa Maria. In 1920, Mother Loyola Gallagher, a
successor of Mother Camilla, obtained the college charter. Faith
and reason came together on the hill, and the Catholic tradition
has continued to flourish for almost 100 years since the dome first
graced the skyline.
The mission of the University, based on the charism of the
IHM Sisters that calls the members to serve at all levels of educa-
tion, presents the Immaculata student with opportunities to
embrace lifelong learning and professional excellence. Regardless
of an individual’s career path, the core values promote in each stu-
dent the goal of responsible leadership and service of others. The
program of studies, based on the liberal arts and grounded in faith,
supports the integration of knowledge and the ability to com-
municate ideas gracefully in speech and action. To these ends, the
University provides a varied program of courses and opportunities
for independent and group study, all of which focus on developing
the individual for leadership and community service.
Underlying the many specialties that modern universities offer
is the core that gathers the secular into the sphere of the sacred,
where education for life and for personal sanctification is the living
heart of a Catholic university. This integration, which Cardinal
Newman and others took for granted, requires that universities
like Immaculata must continually remember and reimagine their
foundational principles as each decade passes.
Associate Professor of Politics Gene Halus, Ph.D., in the classroom