Exploring the mystery of the gatehouse

By Meghan Murphy
February 11, 2010

Shannon Keough

When vistors enter Cabrini’s main entrance, the first building they see is a house on the right hand side. The purpose and inhabitant of this house remain mysterious for many. The person who lives in this house is Sister Christine Marie Baltas, campus ministry associate, who has been living in the gatehouse for a year and a half.

Before Baltas moved into the gatehouse, the house was home to several college chaplains. One chaplin, the Rev. Rudy Rooymans, actually died in the gatehouse at Christmas in the 1970s when he was the campus priest. Despite the passing of Rooymans, Baltas insists that there are no hauntings in her home.

“I have never had a moment of feeling uneasy. Sometimes I will watch scary shows but this house is not haunted,” Baltas said.

Baltas mentions how the front door was once used before Cabrini became a campus, but now you would simply be hit by the cars speeding into campus.

“This is the side door and the only door that I use to get in,” Baltas said.

Upon entering through the door, Baltas asks her guests to take their shoes off. The side door leads to a little foyer area that has a bathroom on the right hand side. This is the only bathroom in the gatehouse that has a shower, and an old fashion bathtub occupies the upstairs bathroom.

On the first floor of the gatehouse, is a kitchen, living room and dining room. The living room and dining room both have fireplaces but they are no longer in use. Baltas has a Amish fireplace that adds warmth and ambience to this room especially on a cold winter day.

In memory of Mother Cabrini, a relic of her bone lies in a gold cross on top of the mantel, where a picture of Mother Cabrini in her younger years is hung.

The gate outside her house is locked at 10 p.m.; Baltas jokingly said she felt trapped. Public safety finally gave her a remote to control the gates if she ever had to leave or come in after 10 p.m.

“When I would come back late before I had the remote, public safety probably thought I was out partying,” Baltas said.

Because the gate house is one of the original buildings on campus, built at the same time as the mansion and Grace Hall, the walls are quite thick. During the winter all the rooms are warm, however, if one goes down into the basement one feels a chill when walking down the stairs. During the summer time, Baltas mentions that she never has to worry about the heat because the trees shade the sunlight.

“It is peaceful and comfortable, warm and cozy in this house,” Baltas said.

After touring much of the gatehouse, Baltas saved her favorite part of the gatehouse for last. In a small room in the basement, there is a chapel where the blessed Sacraments are kept in a tabernacle.

“This is where I come every morning to pray. When we have retreats or gatherings here, I offer it to anyone who would like to come down and reflect,” Baltas said.

Living in the gatehouse, Baltas has access to facilities and public safety just as any residential student would. When Baltas needs help fixing something or even hanging up a picture, all she has to do is put in a facilities request form.

“Anytime I need help, facilities come and takes good care of me. After this past snowstorm, facilities came down and plowed my car out for me,” Baltas said.

Baltas hosted an evening at the gatehouse for students to have dinner and hang out before the stress of the week started.

“Evening at the gatehouse was just a little retreat to get away from the stress. We had pizza, read a scripture and reflected on it. It was for only two hours on a Monday because the pressure of the week hadn’t built up yet. Students felt they were getting off campus although they really weren’t,” Baltas said.

Now that the mystery has been solved, Cabrini students can now rest assured that Snow White and her seven dwarfs do not live in the house, but yet Cabrini’s very own Sister Christine.

Meghan Murphy

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