An hour after it blessed the cadavers, Clarke University blessed its new science facility Wednesday.
First, prayer filled the anatomy lab for the 10 cadavers covered in sheets.
"It's such a great reminder that these are people who have given the greatest gift they can give so other people can learn," said Anastasia Nicklaus, director of Campus Ministry.
People gathered in Catherine Byrne Hall to bless not only the cadavers donated by University of Iowa's Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology but also the room, students and faculty.
For many students, the blessing was their first experience with the cadavers.
Andrea Bixler, associate professor of biology, said the annual blessing can help calm students' nerves about classes involving the cadavers and lets students remember "these were loving people."
For Jessi Henrichson, a sophomore nursing major who gave a reading at the event, the blessing was a way for students to thank the cadavers for helping them learn.
Later, people gathered outside the 46,000-square-foot, three-story Center for Science Inquiry for its official unveiling and blessing.
"The Center for Science Inquiry will transform lives and create new opportunities for all students, regardless of academic major," said Clarke President Joanne Burrows.
Fifteen months earlier, Clarke held a groundbreaking for the $13 million facility connected to Catherine Byrne Hall. The new facility has spacious classrooms, dedicated student research labs and expanded room for anatomy, physiology and environmental science.
The center provides flexible and modern spaces designed to integrate lecture and lab areas while fostering a collaborative, hands-on learning environment, officials have said.
Sister Diana Malone, BVM, chairwoman of the chemistry department, spoke to the students Wednesday.
"Today is the 50th anniversary of the march of 250,000 people to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his iconic speech 'I Have a Dream,'" Malone said. "You, too, have dreams and the freedom to bring these dreams to fruition. Just do it."
The center was funded through philanthropic support, bond issuance and revenue.
Monsignor Thomas Toale led the center's blessing.
"Today we gather to dedicate this building," he said. "We ask that those entrusted with the education of our students may teach them how to join the discoveries of human wisdom with the truth of the Gospel. It will be a facility sure to enhance the academic experience for all students."