Father Tony Lehmann, S.J., continues to inspire the Gonzaga community.
Guy (’60) and Madeline Ossello of Butte, Mont., made a pilgrimage in 2009 to Medjugorje in Boznia-Herzegovina, where they believe the Virgin Mary is reaching out to the world, asking people to pray. Their experience and devotion to Our Lady inspired what has become the new Gonzaga University Grotto, which now sits between College Hall and St. Aloysius Church.
Guy and Madeline’s son Steve (’86) thought of Notre Dame’s grotto after he heard about his parents’ interest. Steve, who has a son at the University of Notre Dame, and his business partner Chris Wrolstad (’86) had visited the grotto there. They know the story of Notre Dame alumnus Tom dooley who, while dying of cancer, wrote to Notre Dame’s president,saying, “If I could go to the grotto now, I could sing inside. I could be full of faith and poetry and loveliness.” Dooley died not long after, and an engraved version of his letter is part of that grotto.
The desire to build a new grotto at Gonzaga clicked for Steve and Chris. They reached out to their mutual friend Greg Erigero (’86) with their ideas, and the grotto reached a whole new level. The friends had met with several classmates over the summer, adopting the informal name of the “Board of Directors of ’86.” All of these friends committed to the project in remembrance of Fr. Tony Lehmann, S.J., dedication of the new grotto took place on a brisk October afternoon.
The new marble statue of the Blessed Mother, imported from Italy, casts a calming presence. A realignment of the walkway from St. Al’s to College Hall brings passersby directly to the grotto, where fl owing water, benches and landscaping create a powerful impression. The Ossellos hope that the grotto will inspire students to deepen their faith. Chris explains how he and Steve look at the project: “Students tend to fall away from church a bit. We thought this would be a reminder as they walk by every day to easily say a prayer and come back to the Lord.”