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USD Approves Name Changes for Four Campus Spaces

USD Approves Name Changes for Four Campus Spaces

In an effort to demonstrate inclusive excellence, the University of San Diego announced last week to rename Serra Hall to Saints Tekakwitha and Serra Hall. The university will also rename the Mission Crossroads building to Mata'yuum Crossroads, which means “gathering place” in the language of the Kumeyaay Nation. 

USD Building Name Changes

In a campus-wide announcement, USD President James T. Harris III, said, “It is hoped that by placing these two Catholic saints together we will recognize that indigenous peoples preceded the Catholic missionaries who settled here. It is also meant to encourage continued dialogue on the important topics of colonialization, the spread of the Catholic faith and the impact both had on Native American populations.”

The renaming of the Crossroads building honors USD's location in the traditional territory of the Kumeyaay Nation and supports our ongoing tribal initiatives that seek to create a more inclusive campus, while building relationships with local tribal nations.

“On our campus,” said Harris, “we have been engaging in dialogue for many years about how we acknowledge the history and legacy of the local indigenous tribes, and recognize that our beautiful campus is built on their homelands. We also had numerous debates and conversations about the history and legacy of Saint Junipero Serra, who was canonized by Pope Francis four years ago. The friction between these two dialogues is not easily reconciled, yet our university mission and vision require us to lean into these discussions with open minds and compassionate hearts.”

The name changes, approved by the USD Board of Trustees, will be made during the Fall 2019 semester under the guidance of a task force. Plans include ceremonies and academic symposia.

  • Saints Tekakwitha and Serra Hall — Serra Hall will be renamed Saints Tekakwitha and Serra Hall in honor of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American Catholic saint and St. Junipero Serra. Pope Francis’s message last week, inspired by the 2018 Synod on Young People, refers to the influence of young saints, including St. Kateri Tekakwitha, who “allowed the features of youth to shine forth in all their beauty, and in their day, they have been real prophets of change.” It is hoped that by placing these two Catholic saints together, we will recognize that indigenous peoples preceded the Catholic missionaries who settled here. It is also meant to encourage continued dialogue on the important topics of colonialization, the spread of the Catholic faith and the impact both had on Native American populations. 
  • Mata'yuum Crossroads — The Mission Crossroads facility will be renamed Mata'yuum Crossroads, which means "gathering place" in Kumeyaay. The renaming honors USD's location in the traditional territory of the Kumeyaay Nation and supports our ongoing tribal initiatives that seek to create a more inclusive campus, while building relationships with local tribal nations. It also builds upon the partnerships we have developed with a number of Kumeyaay nations including the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, Barona Band of Mission Indians, and Jamul Indian Village. 

SLP Plazas to be Renamed

Additionally, USD will permanently honor two beloved Catholic figures and campus visitors. Plaza Mayor will be renamed in honor of St. Teresa of Calcutta, and Plaza Menor will be renamed to honor Francis Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận, the Vietnamese Cardinal and social justice advocate that Pope Francis named as Venerable in 2017.

Recognizing them takes important steps toward strengthening our ties to Tijuana and the work of the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa in that community. It also acknowledges the significant Vietnamese Catholic community located in Linda Vista and throughout San Diego. In honor of these two holy people, who literally walked among us on this campus, the Plazas Mayor and Menor in front of the Student Life Pavilion will be renamed for them next fall. An appropriate date and time for the official renaming of these gathering spaces will be determined at a later date.

April 17 Mass, Recognition Celebration

On Wednesday, April 17, the Canadian Feast Day of St. Tekakwitha, the USD community will gather for Mass at noon followed by a brief campus gathering on the Plaza de Colachis to celebrate these changes to our campus.

— Pamela Gray Payton

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