Le Fer Hall

Ring Day Reflection: Peggy Platz ’88

Blog | 08.04.2020

Peggy McCormick Platz ’88, secretary of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, shared an alumni reflection with the students receiving rings during the Ring Day ceremony on July 25, 2020, in Hamilton Arena.

Platz speaking at the 2020 Ring Day ceremony
Peggy Platz ’88 addresses students during the Ring Day ceremony on July 25, 2020, in Hamilton Arena.

You can’t get there from here.”

“Beg your pardon?” I said with surprise.

“No ma’am, you can’t get there from here,” the cashier repeated, having casually considered my question, “but thank you for shopping Speedway!”

I returned to my car, mentally listing the reasons why the cashier was wrong: a cell phone with GPS, a printed map from the Google, and most importantly, my GUT, telling me the right direction! But despite my best effort, indignation dissolved to fear when five minutes down the road I encountered a sign which read “dead end.” Now what?

We’ve all faced the “now what?” moment of detour – the closed bridge, or the panic of having turned the wrong way down a one-way street. The “now what?” question lingers heavy these days of pandemic, with upsurges and recurrent waves of uncertainty – a detour without a horizon in view.

In our first reading, St. Paul instructs us of the infinite gift of peace which comes with trust in God, for if anyone has the most unbelievable detour story, it’s Paul! Here’s a guy, Saul at the time, heading to work in Damascus when BAM! Detour. Now what?

In St. John’s Gospel passage, we hear Jesus tell us: “Apart from God we can do nothing” – God is the vine, the stabilizer, the anchor. This imagery is fulfilled in Saul, who, through a complete reversal of ideology and identity evolves from persecutor to prescriber for Christians in Thessalonia: “Finally, brothers and sisters…..whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, put in to practice.” 

For ring recipients today, most of you won’t have a Paul-sized detour. The inspired writings from Saints John and Paul invite us now and challenge us now to live the “what” while remaining firmly rooted in faith. Your onyx ring, a proud and recognizable symbol of your academic successes thus far, will serve as your reminder to put in to practice what you have learned, or received, or heard from your studies at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. 

It was 180 years ago this coming Monday, July 27, when our French Pioneer, Mother Theodore Guerin, embarked on her journey to bring the Sisters of Providence to America. But a remarkable story from her travel journal in 1843 resonates today. Returning from France after several months, their sailing vessel The Nashville, encountered two violent storms within days. SMTG penned “little did I dream of the terrible scenes which I must now describe, ocean heaps of thundering, mighty water.” At one point the ship had capsized, and the Sisters believed death was eminent. Saint Mother Theodore opened a book of devotion to a softly illuminated passage: “They cried to the Lord in their affliction and he brought them out of their distresses. He turned the storm into a breeze and its waves were still.” This was the same storm which prompted the prayer – promise of constructing St. Ann’s Chapel here at The Woods. We know now, the storm ceased, and their promise of a Chapel would be kept, but significant damage to their ship detoured their voyage an additional 335 miles.

The chronology of this second crossing from France parallels many other aspects of SMTG life as she confronted waves of detours – a language barrier; an ongoing battle of poor health, isolation of rural poverty in the forests of Indiana, anti-Catholic sentiment which swirled around the Sisters of Providence missions and the constant crashing against societal and religious structures suppressing women. But her branch held firm to The Good vine as SMTG put into practice what was true, and noble, and right and admirable. Without the luxury to ponder “now what?” from her innumerable detours emerged a tour de force. Apart from God, SMTG could do nothing, as she wrote: “From the hand of so good a Father, nothing but good can come.”  We are fortunate heirs of the good which has come from God’s hand, a hand which stabilized and anchored the Sisters of Providence, and our beloved Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. May the ring you receive today bind you to SMTG, your perpetual guidepost. As you pilot your miles-to-go through detours to destinations, do so with assured confidence, knowing you can get anywhere from here. Congratulations!

1 Comment

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Marsha Speth, S.P. | 08.04.2020 at 8:35pm
A beautiful reflection! Thank you!