Posted: Monday Nov 19, 2012
Nov. 19, 2012
Lisa Poponick, a member of the Saint Vincent College facility management staff assigned to the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion, was named the second annual winner of Saint Vincent College’s Projektenmacher Award in recognition of her creative initiatives that, in the spirit of Saint Vincent Founder Boniface Wimmer, have made a valuable difference to the campus community through creativity, imagination and vision.” The award was presented by Saint Vincent College President Br. Norman Hipps, O.S.B. during the Founders’ Day Honors Convocation on Nov. 15 in the Saint Vincent Basilica.
Two years ago on Founders’ Day, Br. Norman announced his intention to begin honoring a member of the Saint Vincent College community annually with a Projektenmacher Award. “Boniface Wimmer’s fellow monks were derisive of his vision for a Mission to America, and even nicknamed him, ‘Der Projektenmacher, that big Plan-Maker! That dreamer!’,” Br. Norman commented. “But at the end of Wimmer’s life, after 40 years of extraordinary accomplishments in America, Projektenmacher came to identify an individual who got things done.”
“Today we celebrate the contributions of a colleague whose work is quiet and a bit confined to the Science Pavilion, but is extraordinary,” Br. Norman commented in making the award. “When you make your way through the Science Pavilion, it’s impressive to feel the buzz of so much activity of learning and laboratory research. But the more you go there, you notice something else. You stop in a restroom and you do a double-take when you see a vase of fresh flowers. Who on earth would put flowers in a restroom on a college campus, you wonder. In the warmer months, you see flower beds near the entrances. If you’re in a hurry, you might not think much, but as you see this little touch of home, it’s obvious that someone is giving them the attention they need to be so beautiful. In the colder months, you notice a sniffling faculty member hovering over a steaming bowl of what looks like homemade chicken soup. Lo, and behold, that’s exactly what it is. And you can almost see the healing come with every spoonful. And you come to discover it was brought in by a Saint Vincent employee who noticed that the teacher was a little under the weather. You look at the terrazzo floor, the stairs and the glass. Is it just the imagination, or are these things sparkling? Even the cement floors. You ask if they were freshly poured, that’s how clean and white they are. If you’re interviewing for a teaching position at Saint Vincent, while you’re shown around, someone carrying a mop brings you a cup of coffee and wishes you ‘good luck’ on your presentation. You almost stare in disbelief. You might not be paying attention to the calendar but you walk in and know whether it’s Halloween or Thanksgiving or Valentine’s Day. Someone’s having fun putting up these decorations, but you’re not sure who. You’re a new student, and you’re worried that you’ll be late for your first class, bewildered by its location in this labyrinth we call campus, only to find that someone constructed helpful signs to direct you. Which gets you there earlier than you expected, and you have time to text your mom and say that your first day is going better than you expected. And then it’s time for finals, and you’re stressing out, only to find a table with cookies. Finally you hear of Remnants for Remembrance, a quilt which was designed and hand-sewn to be raffled off, the proceeds for the tickets raising money to start a scholarship fund in memory of our dearly departed Saint Vincent student, Matt Russo.”
“We honor Lisa Poponick for being an angel in disguise,” Br. Norman continued, “and for these daily acts of kindness. Lisa accepted an ordinary job and turned it into an art. She shows the rest of us how important it is to look at what we do with a fresh pair of eyes, to see what Saint Benedict saw, that ‘the divine presence is everywhere’ (Rule 19:1). She models a sense of discipline in her work to inspire the rest of us when we are tempted to slack off. She helps us to remember that the humble path of service is what helps to form good people in a world that often settles for the attitude: What’s in it for me? She follows Benedict’s admonition that the tools of the monastery should be treated as though they were vessels of the altar. And as for Benedictine hospitality, revering every student, every visitor with the dignity worthy of any of God’s children. For her natural sense of community, building up and encouraging everyone whatever their importance in making Saint Vincent a home away from home. I wish to personally thank Lisa for her creativity, her tender loving care, and for being an unrealistic dreamer!”
“In the name of the Saint Vincent College community, I bestow the Second Annual Projektenmacher Award on Lisa Poponick, for her imitation not only of Boniface Wimmer, but of his companions, the unsung heroes who pray and work, so that in all things, God may be glorified!” Br. Norman concluded.
Mrs. Poponick and her husband, Edward, live in Unity Township. They have four children, Edward, Daniel and Hannah who are students at Saint Vincent College, and Leah, a senior at Greater Latrobe High School. They are members of St. Cecilia R.C. Church in Whitney.
Photo: Br. Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B., right, president of Saint Vincent College, presented the Projektenmacher Award to Lisa Poponick, left, recognizing her creative initiative inspired by founder Boniface Wimmer.
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