Image Courtesy of the Catholic University of America
By Zachary Lichter
The Catholic University of America (CUA) celebrated Mass of the Holy Spirit in the upper church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday, August 31, 2023. Mass of the Holy Spirit usually happens at the beginning of each school year as a way for the CUA community to ask for God’s blessing and for the Holy Spirit to guide and lead the university through this brand-new school year.
Junior physics major and philosophy minor Nicholas Michalczyk described the Mass.
“The Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrates the beginning of a new academic year,” Michalczyk said. “For students who aren’t freshmen, there is no official ceremony to begin the school year other than the Mass of the Holy Spirit. This Mass is the perfect time to remind ourselves of our vocation as students at Catholic U. Throughout the ages, the Church has pointed to the Holy Spirit as the source of all wisdom. At the Mass of the Holy Spirit, we invite God to inspire us to seek Him in our studies.“
Classes were canceled between 11:50 a.m. and 2:10 p.m. so that faculty, staff, and students could go to Mass, which began at 12:10 p.m. For those who could not attend in person, the Mass was live-streamed on the Catholic TV Network (Catholic TV) and the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington was the celebrant and was assisted by two transitional deacons from the Theological College, Deacon Dylan Prentice and Deacon Joseph Heisey from the Archdiocese of Washington. There were 66 concelebrants, and some of the principal concelebrants included the university chaplain, Father Aquinas Guilbeau, Monsignor Ronny Jenkins, the Dean of Canon Law, and Father Gladstone “Bud” Stevens, Rector of the Theological College—eight transitional deacons processed with Cardinal Gregory and the concelebrating priests.
After Cardinal Gregory did the Sign of the Cross, President Peter Kilpatrick welcomed the cardinal, priests, faculty, staff, and students in attendance. Senior theology major, philosophy and entrepreneurship double minor, Ellie Bixenman did the First Reading, which was from the Book of Ezekiel (Ezek. 36:24-28), and senior operations management major and data analytics minor, Connor James did the Second Reading from the Book of Galatians (Gal. 5:16-17, 22, 23a, 24-25). This was followed by Deacon Prentice reading the Gospel according to John (Jn. 15:18-21, 26-27). Cardinal Gregory then gave the homily and talked about how the human heart is both a mystery and a motor. He mentioned that the image of the heart has developed in books and art. When you give a person your heart, you’re giving them yourself. Hearts can be broken, stolen, won, and even given away in love. In the context of the Catholic Church, he said that the Holy Spirit is the heart doctor to begin a new school year. Cardinal Gregory finished his homily by asking everyone to pray for the hearts planted in the faculty, administrators, staff, and students, that their hearts will beat with love and kindness.
After the homily, Cardinal Gregory reviewed the “Conferral of Canonical Mission,” which states that “Conferral gives canonical authorization to newly appointed faculty members to teach in the name of the Church. The School of Philosophy, the School of Canon Law, and the School of Theology and Religious Studies give academic degrees recognized by the Holy See. Ecclesiastical faculty members receive canonical authorization from the Chancellor (Cardinal Gregory) of the University.”
CUA Provost Dr. Aaron Dominguez introduced the new candidates: Dr. Steven Waldorf from the School of Philosophy, Father Bonaventure Chapman from the School of Philosophy, and Monsignor William King from the School of Canon Law. The three of them received their document of authorization from Cardinal Gregory and made their way to the center of the altar, where they recited the Nicene Creed. They also took the Oath of Fidelity and placed their right hand on the Book of the Gospels. The candidates were dismissed, and Deacon Prentice did the Prayer of the Faithful. President Kilpatrick did the closing remarks at the end of Mass, and Cardinal Gregory did a final blessing.
Junior computer science major and finance minor John Cardillo had this to say by the end of Mass of the Holy Spirit:
“I’ve always been struck by the academic procession and the visual reminder that our university’s academics are founded on the Catholic faith,” Cardillo said. “I also really enjoyed seeing Catholic University involved in liturgical roles, whether as readers, altar servers, or in the choir. I think that the university did a great job of asking for God’s blessing for the upcoming academic year, and I’m really excited to see how He will continue to work on and through this campus!”