The Catholic University of America

Aug. 28, 2008

University Mass Fills Shrine's Great Upper Church

Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies David Bosworth receives his canonical mission from Archbishop Wuerl and Father O'Connell.

More than 2,000 people gathered in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception today at noontime as The Catholic University of America celebrated the opening of the new academic year with a traditional university-wide Mass.

Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, was the celebrant. Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president, delivered a homily on the theme of "Inauguration of the Year of St. Paul at The Catholic University of America" (for full text of the homily, click here).

This year's Mass marked a departure from past practice in two ways. In previous years, the opening Mass had been celebrated in the Crypt Church of the National Shrine, which seats approximately 400. But after a number of years of standing room only crowds of students, faculty and staff at the Mass, this year's event was moved to the more spacious Great Upper Church, which can accommodate several thousand worshipers.

"I was so happy to see our students, faculty and staff fill the Great Upper Church of the basilica today," said Father O'Connell. "In my 10 years as president, this is the largest turnout of faculty, of priests concelebrating, of our entire campus, for the opening Mass."

Archbishop Wuerl gives the Benemerenti Medal to Frank Persico and Craig Parker.

Also this year, for the first time ever, the canonical mission - the obligation to teach in the name of the Church - was presented at the Mass, immediately following the homily. Eight professors - seven from the School of Theology and Religious Studies and one from the School of Philosophy - received either the canonical mission or the venia docendi from Archbishop Wuerl. Previously, these documents were simply mailed to the professors receiving the authorizations to teach. (For a full explanation of the conferrals and a list of those who received them, click here).

In addition to conferring the canonical mission, Archbishop Wuerl presented two longtime Catholic University administrators - Frank Persico and Craig Parker - with papal honors. (For details on their honors, click here).

CUA students present Offertory gifts.

- 30 -