University celebrates Heritage Week

Katia Faroun | Photo Editor
Students played basketball as part of the university’s birthday celebration.
Katia Faroun | Photo Editor
Students played basketball as part of the university’s birthday celebration.

Meredith Blakely | Staff Writer


Heritage Week is a three-day yearly event that celebrates all things Duquesne. Duquesne University was founded 140 years ago on Oct. 1, 1878. This year marks the 6th annual Heritage Week that commemorates Duquesne’s birthday and the university’s Catholic Spiritan heritage.

Each year, Duquesne celebrates Heritage Week beginning on Monday, Oct. 1 and concluding on Wednesday, Oct 3. These three days were full of celebration, such as the university birthday party on A-Walk on Monday, which featured three tables including food, free T-shirts and games.

Tuesday’s events included a Mass celebrating the Feast Day of Claude Poullart de Places, a Feast Day Luncheon and a “Feast on Feast Day Giveaway.” To conclude the festivities, Wednesday night there was a Food, Faith and Culture Night.

Duquesne President Ken Gormley noted that the university’s mission is fundamental to the university. As a Spiritan university, Gormley encourages Duquesne to look back on and celebrate its roots during this week, because they make Duquesne what it is today.

“As a Catholic Spiritan University, our mission is at the heart of everything we do,” Gormley said.

Duquesne’s mission began prior to the birth of the university, when the Spiritan order was founded by Claude Poullart de Places.

De Places graduated from high school merely at age 16 as the valedictorian, attending Saint-Thomas College in Rennes. His valedictorian speech impressed the Royal Family, leading them to invite him to Versailles in Paris.

From there, De Places attended and graduated from law school, later deciding to become a priest. At the age of 24, he founded the Spiritan order, but passed away six years later.

“These dedicated Spiritans rolled up their sleeves, and through their vision, made Duquesne University the special place it is today. This history serves as an inspiration to our whole campus community, as we continue to live out the mission envisioned by our founders, each day, by serving our students and the community at large,” Gormley said.

Luci-Jo DiMaggio, the director of mission animation in the Division of Mission and Identity, showed much enthusiasm as she explained the significance of creating such a week.

“At Duquesne, our Catholic Spiritan roots and mission drive everything we do here,” DiMaggio said. “Heritage Week celebrates both our Spiritan roots and the founding of our university.”

Heritage Week falls on the same week as Homecoming this year, calling for even more festivities.

Homecoming and Heritage Week both celebrate Duquesne University in different ways. Homecoming, however, takes place from Oct. 5 to Oct. 7, and welcomes home alumni. Similar events as those for Heritage Week will take place over the course of the three days celebrating Homecoming.

Normally, these gatherings do not fall during the same week, but this year they do, as DiMaggio mentioned.

“We are very lucky that [Heritage Week] falls during Homecoming Week most years as this seems to be the best possible way to celebrate all things Duquesne!” DiMaggio said. “Unfortunately, that does not always work out like it has the last two years.”

Gormley shared his thoughts regarding Heritage Week.

“As Duquesne celebrates its 140th birthday,” Gormley said, “this is a wonderful opportunity to look back proudly on the foundation laid by the Spiritan missionaries who came to Pittsburgh to provide educational opportunities to recent immigrants and their families.”

He invited the community to join the festivities and celebrate the founding of Duquesne University.

“I encourage the entire Duquesne family to participate in the activities we have planned for Heritage Week, and to use this occasion to reflect upon how fortunate we are to be part of such a remarkable institution of higher education,” Gormley said.