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Miller Family Provides Lead Gift for National Shrine Grotto Visitors Center

millerEmmitsburg, Maryland — It was a night that changed Richard P. Miller’s life forever.

In 1974, Miller, then a senior at Mount St. Mary’s, was driving back to campus after working a double shift as a waiter at a local restaurant.

But he never made it back.

Miller was involved in a horrific accident that night along a secluded back road — trapped beneath his overturned car for more than three hours. As he waited for help to arrive, he drifted in and out of consciousness. During moments when his thoughts were clear, he began taking stock of his life.

“I saw the world around me differently,” says Miller, who faced a long and arduous recovery. “I was so grateful I was a student at a school like the Mount, where people care and support and encourage one another.”

To this day, the Mount and the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on campus hold special memories for Miller — who proposed to his wife, Mary Lee, there 38 years ago — and the couple, along with daughters Kristen and Heather, are frequent visitors to the shrine. Recently, the University received the lead gift from the Miller family to name the visitors center currently under construction at the Grotto.

“The Grotto is a place of healing, prayer and serenity,” Miller said. “It is a place where we have always found comfort in times of need, a place where we feel very close to the Blessed Mother and a very special place to pray.

“It is truly a blessing for me to give back,” Miller added. “God has blessed me with this ability and in doing so I am honored that my family and I will help to enhance the experience of the millions of people who visit the Grotto in times of need or just for peaceful reflection.”

When it opens to the public in June, the Richard and Mary Lee Miller Family Visitors Center will serve more than 400,000 visitors who visit the Grotto each year. The 4,000-square-foot facility will house administrative offices, a gallery, gift shop, and museum depicting the history of the Grotto — the oldest known American replica of the Lourdes Shrine in France.

“The generosity of the Miller family enhances not only the historic landscape of our blessed Grotto but also creates a glorious space for the community,” said University President Thomas H. Powell. “We thank Richard and Mary Lee for their gift and their on-going commitment to the Mount.”

After graduating from Mount St. Mary’s University with a degree in business, Richard earned his MBA from Southern Illinois University. Today, he is the chief executive officer of Virtua — a non-profit, multi-hospital healthcare system headquartered in New Jersey. Chosen by more patients than any other healthcare provider in South Jersey, Virtua is one of the area's largest employers — employing more than 8,000 clinical and administrative personnel, and more than 1,800 physicians serve on the medical staff. It has been recognized six years in a row as the “Best Employer in the Delaware Valley,” by the Philadelphia Business Journal.

In 2011, Richard received the Mount St. Mary’s President’s Medal in recognition of his leadership in health care. He consulted with faculty of the Mount’s Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business on the curriculum design of the University’s Master of Health Administration program, and participated in the 2011 Presidential Lecture Series — speaking at the Union League in Philadelphia.

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