In the midst of construction for the new Student Life Center on the campus of Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory blessed the ground in a ceremony on Jan. 30, asking for God’s blessing on the many students who will benefit from the community cultivated at Stone Ridge School. 

Head of School Catherine Ronan Karrels said that in the 73 years that Stone Ridge has owned its current property in Bethesda, the student body and facilities have continued to grow and expand. 

“Our program has grown, and with it we have evolved the physical structures that support our mission,” she said, acknowledging the campus’s expansion throughout the years with increased academic space, gymnasiums and sports facilities. “Today, it’s hard to even imagine Stone Ridge without those facilities. And at some point in time there were students just like you today who had the joy of watching those buildings spring up right before their eyes.” 

The new Student Life Center is expected to be completed in 2021 and include all-school dining space and event space, and classrooms for the arts and other spaces to be utilized by the community to “transform how we live and how we interact at Stone Ridge,” Karrels said. 

Archbishop Gregory blessed the grounds of a New Student Life Center at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart on Jan. 30. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj) 

In a Mass that preceded the blessing of the construction grounds, Archbishop Gregory expressed his gratitude to the Religious of the Sacred Heart, the community of religious sisters that sponsors Stone Ridge and has inspired the mission of the schools in the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.

He also encouraged the students to listen to the words of St. Paul in his letters to the Colossians (3:14), when he tells them to “put on love.” 

“What we wear is important,” Archbishop Gregory said. “Love is the most important attire that any of us will ever have to wear, and it’s always in style. It’s always the right color, it is always the right fit. It is the attire that allows the whole world to know that we belong to Christ.”

He also told the students that even when they are not wearing their Catholic school uniforms or attire that bears the Stone Ridge name, they can wear the virtues of “charity and justice and kindness… and the whole world will know that Christ is present in you.”

Sister Suzanne Cooke, a Religious of the Sacred Heart who is the head of the Conference of Sacred Heart Education, addressed the student body prior to the Mass, sharing how “all of this is about transformation.” 

“But it’s not just simply the physical transformation of what has always been, not only a beautiful school of Christ’s heart, but a school that bears the Society of the Sacred Heart’s name with such integrity and intention,” she said.

Sister Cooke added how, along with her religious community, she “takes delight” in the Stone Ridge community which “calls us to be even more faithful Religious of the Sacred Heart as we work with you to ensure the future of Sacred Heart education.” 

She said that the blessing of the construction site is a reminder of the interior transformation that each individual experiences. 

“It reminds all of us that our interior transformation is about becoming more effective human beings to bring about a world of justice, to bring a world reflective of Christ’s attitude and heart,” she said. “That is why on a day like today we stop, we think, we pray and we thank God for the blessings we enjoy.”