To Inspire and Delight

A person stands in front of the new tapestries that adorn the hall at the University of San Diego's new Ministry Center.


The University of San Diego’s new 15,000-square-foot University Ministry Center opens this fall, with a mission to provide a consolidated center for serving the spiritual development of students.

Made possible by generous contributions by a number of donors, the center will house University Ministry (UM) staff and create space for program development, complementary co-curricular activities and related UM initiatives all in one central place.

“The new center will be a wonderful addition to our campus,” says Vice President of Mission and Ministry Daniel Dillabough ’70. “It’s located centrally and conveniently between The Immaculata and Founders Chapel.”

“We’ve been working with Monsignor Dillabough since he first shared his vision, and it’s exciting to see it all come together,” says Facilities Management Senior Project Manager Tim Doudna.

“The location is great and it brings USD’s University Ministry programs together all under one roof.” The project scope included a partial renovation of Founders Hall, as well as an interior courtyard and an exterior patio at the east side of Founders Hall.

Beyond the practicalities of centralizing University Ministry services, the center reinforces the importance of beauty, echoing Mother Rosalie Clifton Hill’s famous 1949 quote: “Beauty will attract them; goodness will lead them; but the truth will hold them,” she said. 

When students and other visitors enter the new center this fall, they’ll be greeted by stunning tapestries depicting figures including Pope Francis, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.

The 32 images also include Catholic saints, USD’s founders Bishop Charles Francis Buddy and Mother Hill, along with many other inspirational figures.

“The tapestries express the university’s Catholic identity and, as an important aspect of that identity, our deep appreciation for holiness found in other places, people, and traditions,” says USD Assistant Vice President and Director of University Ministry Michael Lovette-Colyer.    

“The center will be a fantastic place for groups of students to meet, reflect and pray, and to hold university gatherings and celebrations,” adds Lovette-Colyer. A celebration of the new center will be held on Sept. 6.

Adding to the ambiance of the center are the dramatic tapestries designed by internationally known artist John Nava, who also created stunning tapestries of 135 saints in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. For a year, he worked with Msgr. Dillabough on the design of the five 12-foot-high tapestries. In the summer of 2020, another three panels will be installed on a second wall.

Nava says he was excited to work on what he calls an “inclusive” project, but admits he had another reason creating the artwork spoke to him as an artist. A San Diego native, he recalls seeing a photo of himself as a toddler next to the cross marking USD’s groundbreaking in 1949. His family hoped he might attend USD, but when the time came for him to go off to college, he chose the University of California, Santa Barbara instead.

“I’ve done projects all over the world,” he says. “But this is the first one in my hometown.” — Liz Harmon

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