I spent much of last weekend at two large events held outdoors under tents. Saturday I covered the groundbreaking ceremony for a new chapel that soon will be built at St. John Fisher College. Much of the construction will be funded by a gift from the Hermance Family Foundation in honor of the late Ronald E. Hermance Jr. The next day I headed out to Brockport for a family reunion at my maternal great-grandparents’ farmstead.
At the time I didn’t think these two events had anything in common. Both were enjoyable, but one was part of my job and the other was something I did in my free time. I only knew a handful of people at the groundbreaking and most of those in attendance were adults, with the exception of a few of the principal donor’s grandchildren. There were quite a few children at the family reunion, on the other hand, and many of the adults there had known me since I was a child myself.
Upon further reflection, I realized these events did share some profound similarities. At their cores, both were about celebrating roots and honoring those who have gone before us. The college’s president told me this new chapel will be a tribute to the school’s Catholic heritage and will honor the vision of the school’s founders, and during the ceremony several of Ronald Hermance’s friends shared stories about him and his devotion to his family, his faith and his alma mater.
Stories about deceased family members were shared at my family reunion as well, and the adults watched the young cousins play together on the rolling lawn where previous generations have frolicked. We delighted in noticing the traits we shared and took comfort in each other’s presence and our shared heritage.