The Catholic University of America


Aug. 29, 2013

Catholic University Opens 2013-14 Academic Year

The University’s purpose “is to reconfirm for ourselves the conviction that we are truly capable of making a better world — of manifesting God’s kingdom of peace, truth, justice, kindness, understanding, compassion and love, here and now,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and University chancellor, in his homily at Catholic University’s Mass of the Holy Spirit Aug. 29.

  Cardinal Donald Wuerl
  Cardinal Donald Wuerl

Recalling the words of Pope Francis in the Holy Father’s first encyclical letter, Cardinal Wuerl said, “Without being conformed to Christ in love, without the presence of the spirit, it is impossible to confess him as Lord. The Pope’s declaration is a reminder why you and I are here, and why this Catholic University of America with its motto ‘God is my Light” is our home this academic year.”

Related Links  

> Cardinal Wuerl's Homily
   – Text and Video

> President Garvey's Remarks
   – Text and Video

> Video of Full Mass


At the Mass, which marked the opening of the 2013-2014 academic year, Cardinal Wuerl urged students in particular to “always be open to the gift of the Spirit. It is the movement of the Spirit that has led you along this path.”

Cardinal Wuerl was celebrant and homilist at the annual Mass held in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception adjacent to campus, with Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States, as a principal concelebrant.

Also concelebrating the Mass were some 80 priests from the CUA community and surrounding religious communities.

The Mass, held in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica, was filled to near capacity with about 2,200 people, including students, staff, and faculty.

In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl told a story about an atheist who asked him what people of religious conviction bring to society.

Wuerl, Garvey and Anton Barba-Kay  
Cardinal Wuerl, left, and President John Garvey, center, present the Canonical Mission to faculty member Anton Barba-Kay.  

The cardinal said he asked the man, “What do you think the world would be like if it were not for the voices of all of those religious traditions…? What would it be like if we did not hear voices in the midst of the community saying, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness?” The man, he said, acknowledged, “It would be a mess!”

Following the homily, Cardinal Wuerl conferred the Canonical Mission — the authorization to teach in the name of the Church — to the following faculty members:

• School of Theology and Religious Studies: Ian Kiernan Boxall, Emanuel P. Magro, and Robin Darling Young.
• School of Philosophy: Michele Averchi, Anton Barba-Kay, Melissa Moschella, and Rev. Ignacio de Ribera Martin.

Cardinal Wuerl also conferred the Venia Docendi authorization — the authorization for a non-Catholic to teach in the name of the Church — to Rev. Stefanos Alexopoulos, a Greek Orthodox priest.

University President John Garvey concluded the Mass by speaking about a world in turmoil, and how the community that is The Catholic University of America — students, faculty, and staff — is part of the answer in rebuilding “a culture whose foundation stones have lost their strength.”

  Saying Our Father during Mass of Holy Spirit
  Congregants join together to pray the Our Father during the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

He also mentioned the CUA Community Pledge, which students, faculty, and staff are invited to take.

“We ask our students to be tolerant of others,” said Garvey. “We require this tolerance not only with regard to weakness, but also with regard to the other differences that can separate us — race, creed, orientation, or class. All are ‘created in God’s image and likeness’ and are worthy of respect.”

In closing, he urged the University community “to lead, not follow, in building that better world.”

For the fourth year in a row, the Mass was televised live by the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) to a worldwide audience. EWTN will rebroadcast the Mass at midnight on Friday, Aug. 30. For more information, see




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