The Catholic University of America

Sept. 2, 2010

Catholic University Opens School Year with Mass of the Holy Spirit

Traditional Liturgy Draws Thousands of Students, Faculty and Staff

  About 2,500 CUA students, faculty and staff fill the Basilica for the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

More than 150 faculty and staff dressed in academic regalia and 90 concelebrating priests led the processional that began Catholic University’s annual Mass of the Holy Spirit, which was televised live on EWTN-TV.

The pews of the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception overflowed with about 2,500 CUA students, faculty and staff at the midday Mass on Thursday, Sept. 2.

Held during the first week of classes, the Mass is celebrated each year to mark the beginning of the academic year. The Mass was moved from the Crypt Church to the Great Upper Church in 2008 to accommodate the growing attendance.

Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and chancellor of CUA, served as the main celebrant of the Mass and delivered the homily.

In his homily, Archbishop Wuerl said, “The very fact that we have come together at this Eucharistic Liturgy is a clear indication that this campus and university family recognizes its participation in the educational mission of the Catholic Church.”

Reflecting on the Gospel reading, he said, “The truth you [faculty] nurture and more deeply penetrate illumines for your students the pathway through the human condition. You are the light for the world.”

Following the homily, Archbishop Wuerl presented two faculty members with the canonical mission — Rev. James Brent, O.P., assistant professor in the School of Philosophy, and Sister Margaret Schreiber, O.P., clinical assistant professor in the School of Theology and Religious Studies. The canonical mission is the obligation to teach in the name of the Church, given to members of the university’s ecclesiastical faculties.

CUA President John Garvey addressed the congregation following Communion. For most students, this was the first time they had heard from CUA’s 15th president.


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“Faith is, ironically, an unwelcome guest in academic circles,” Garvey said. However, “If we really believe that Christ is present in the Eucharist, if we really believe that wisdom and knowledge are gifts of the Holy Spirit, then this Mass is a celebration of the importance of faith in the life of this university. … If we believe in [Jesus], then the Gospel is as relevant to the work of the university as the general theory of relativity is to the work of the physics department.”

To view more photos of the Mass and picnic, visit CUA's Facebook page.


Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl approaches the altar at the end of the liturgical procession.

President John Garvey addresses the congregation following Communion.
CUA students pray at the Mass marking the beginning of the academic year.


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