Mary Rose Kozlowski Bailor ’70 regularly attended the daily 4 p.m. mass at Bishop Chartrand Memorial Chapel while a student at Marian College.
“Something just pulled me there. At the time, I thought it was a nice demarcation at the end of my school day. In retrospect, I realize it was the spirit planting some good seeds,” Bailor said.
She felt that spirit stirring again when she and her husband, Robert, returned to that chapel during a three-day visit to Marian University in October of 2020. They were supposed to return for her 50th class reunion, until Marian’s homecoming was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While sharing her disappointment with Mark Bridenstine, her Marian University development officer, he suggested they come for a visit anyway, that he could set up some tours and socially-distanced meetings—they could even renew their wedding vows.
This year of disappointments also happened to be their 50th year of wedded bliss. “We married immediately after my graduation, so Robert loves Marian as much as I do,” Bailor said. Since their anniversary celebrations had also been canceled, they embraced the opportunity to renew their vows on campus.
“It was lovely and stirring. Even President Elsener was inspired as he watched the students in attendance witnessing our faith-filled, loving 50-year relationship still going strong. He thinks more alumni should renew their vows on campus. What an unexpected but wonderful outcome and ripple effect that would be,” she said.
This isn’t the first time the Bailors have had a positive impact on Marian students. In 2012, they established the Kozlowski-Bailor San Damiano Endowed Scholarship.
“We invest in the San Damiano Scholars for Church Leadership program because it makes the world a better place by bringing values and ethics and the lens of Christianity to all fields,” said Bailor. She appreciates that the San Damiano Scholars are not just pastoral studies majors, but bring their joyful faith to all the professions.
Over the course of their visit, the Bailors delighted in conversations with current San Damiano Scholars and program staff. They also spent time with President Daniel J. Elsener, took a sacred art tour, attended the BOLD Gala, and cheered on the Knights at a home volleyball game.
“The teamwork and fighting spirit, the sliding-across-the-floor intensity and athleticism of these young women was phenomenal,” said Bailor, who recalls a less physical performance by the Marian Maids volleyball team of her day.
She is glad the students of today have so much more to get involved in.
“I support student scholarships so students can have a more well-rounded college experience, instead of having to spend all their free time working like I did,” she said.
Bailor worked three jobs to help limit the financial burden on her parents. She babysat, worked at the Iron Skillet, and had a work study position with Gilbert Tutungi, then head of Marian’s English department.
Bailor loves the verve of today’s campus but appreciates the beauty and serenity that still exist in the St. Francis Colonnade, the Marian Shrine and Rosary Walk, the Nina Mason Pulliam EcoLab, and all the chapels—including Saint Joseph Chapel, part of Caito-Wagner Hall, which will open in Fall 2021.
Grateful for the way Marian teaches mission and service and awakens compassion for others, the Bailors have purchased a seat in the new chapel, selecting the inscription: “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Rev. 21:5) “These hopeful words remind us that, though we’ll fall short, it is our job to try to create Heaven on earth and that a life with purpose always endures,” they said.
“The staff and faculty of Marian have always valued their students,” said Bailor, who fondly remembers steaks on Saturdays, Christmas carols by candlelight in Clare Hall, and countless other illuminating encounters with people who cared and Sisters who made them think twice.
Bailor has carried this compassion forward as an adjunct professor of American literature and writing at Capital University and Columbus State Community College. Both Bailor and her husband hold multiple degrees and love to teach. She says it’s all worthwhile when former students reach out to say she made them feel like they could succeed. Bailor has also given back through several mission trips to West Virginia and Honduras.
“It’s amazing to me how privileged we are but don’t realize it. There is much disparity in opportunity and income in the world. God meant for all his children to live to their fullness, and we can close that gap through faith and education,” Bailor said.
The Bailors, who have three children and four grandchildren, didn’t start out with treasure to share. “But just about anyone can put $20 in an envelope just to say thank you for what you’ve done and I’m using what you gave me,” said Bailor, who sees money as a gift that should be used to make the world a better place and that supporting Marian is a way to honor all the opportunities education has afforded them.
“Marian is positioned to equip graduates to live in the new world ahead of us—a very broken, wounded world that is going to need smart, holy, and critical-thinking problem-solvers,” said Bailor, who applauds Marian’s mission to shape hearts and motivate people to be all that God meant for them to be.
The Bailors encourage their fellow alumni to come take just a 15-minute walk on Marian’s campus. “You’ll see and feel a sense of goodness and kindness, community and hospitality,” she said.
Now she’s the one planting those good seeds.