The Catholic University of America

Aug. 28, 2014

Students Called to Make a Difference During Mass of the Holy Spirit

  President John Garvey accepts the Cardinal's Award on behalf of the University from Cardinal Donald Wuerl.
Photo gallery

University Receives Cardinal’s Award

The Catholic University of America community received a message of inspiration and a call to action during the Mass of the Holy Spirit Aug. 28.

The Mass, which is held annually at the opening of the school year, was celebrated by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and University chancellor, who asked God to invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the University community to strengthen and guide students, faculty, and staff throughout the 2014-15 academic year.

During his homily, Cardinal Wuerl spoke about how faith can help people understand the truth and achieve great things.

“The light of faith is that wonderful gift that we receive that allows us through the lens of belief to see so much more,” he said. “It is that light that illumines aspects of our existence that we might never otherwise fully penetrate."

Related Links  

> Cardinal Wuerl's Homily
> President Garvey's Remarks
> Text and Video of Cardinal Wuerl's Closing Remarks
> Video of the Mass


The blessings of the Holy Spirit are manifestations of the presence of God in our lives, Cardinal Wuerl said. With those gifts, people can receive clarity about what they are called to do and the courage to take action.

“We come together to ask for the gifts of the Holy Spirit because we dare to believe we really can make a difference,” Cardinal Wuerl said. “We are capable of renewing the face of the earth, or at least trying to do our part with the help of God.”


New ecclesiastical faculty members Sister Nancy Bauer, Bradley C. Gregory, Paul Scherz and Father Anthony McLaughlin with Cardinal Wuerl, President Garvey, and Provost James Brennan.

Photo gallery

Following the homily, Cardinal Wuerl conferred the Canonical Mission — the authorization to teach in the name of the Church — to Paul Scherz of the School of Theology and Religious Studies and School of Canon Law faculty Sister Nancy Bauer, O.S.B., and Very Rev. Anthony McLaughlin.

Cardinal Wuerl also conferred the Venia Docendi authorization — the authorization for a non-Catholic to teach in the name of the Church — to Bradley C. Gregory, from the School of Theology and Religious Studies.

At the end of the Mass, Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout announced the bestowal on Catholic University of the Cardinal’s Award, given on the occasion of the Archdiocese of Washington’s 75th anniversary.

Noting that Catholic University was established as the bishops’ university and is “distinguished as an intellectual center of highest quality,” Bishop Knestout said that the University was being honored because of “its authentic adherence to its founding mission.”

“I am proud of the work our faculty and students do in the pursuit of truth and beauty,” said University President John Garvey in accepting the award. “And it is wonderful to see the effects our efforts have beyond the bounds of our campus. Our work nourishes the Church and our country, as our founders hoped it would.”

President Garvey said that sometimes it can seem counterintuitive for Christians to spend time studying subjects like literature and science when that time could be otherwise spent serving those in need. In response he referred back to the words of C.S. Lewis, who wrote that an appetite for truth and beauty is part of human nature.

  Faculty, staff, and students fill the Upper Church of the Basilica for the annual Mass.
“The appetite for truth and beauty that craves feeding was given to us by God and God makes no appetite in vain,” Garvey said. “So satisfying our natural appetites can be a way of advancing toward God. … The key is to keep in mind what we do these things for. As St. Paul tells us, ‘Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’”

In his closing remarks, Cardinal Wuerl reminded students of the call to solidarity as he gave an impassioned plea to speak up for those currently being persecuted, tortured, and killed for their religious beliefs in Iraq and Syria.

“Atrocities happen because there are those who commit them and those who simply remain silent,” he said. “Each one of us has at least the power to raise our voices in solidarity with people distant from us, unknown to us … but they are a part of our human community.” 

For the fifth 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. 29. For more information, see

The Mass was also broadcast on CatholicTV, who provided this video of Cardinal Wuerl's closing remarks.


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