The Catholic University of America

Sept. 3, 2015

Students Encouraged to Walk with Francis during Mass of the Holy Spirit

  Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and University chancellor, enters this year's Mass of the Holy Spirit on Sept. 3.

Students, faculty, and staff from The Catholic University of America were encouraged to walk with Pope Francis through their prayers and actions Sept. 3 as part of the University’s annual Mass of the Holy Spirit.

The Mass, which took place in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, is held annually at the opening of every school year.

This year’s celebrant was 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 2015-16 academic year.

In anticipation of Pope Francis’s upcoming visit to the Basilica and the University, Cardinal Wuerl encouraged students to prepare themselves spiritually by working to make a difference in their community.

“Pope Francis challenges us to be ‘missionary disciples,’” he said. “We are not bystanders but rather participants in the great human endeavor to make of this world a better place.

Related Links  
Cardinal Wuerl's homily
President Garvey's remarks

“There is a sense in which each one of us has to make that call and anointing in the Holy Spirit our own,” Cardinal Wuerl said. “This is what Pope Francis asks us to do. We are challenged to take the love and mercy of God and share it with others.”

The cardinal encouraged students to use this upcoming academic year to continue spiritual formation and to ask God’s help in living their faith.

“Here at this university, in addition to preparing for a job and a means to a paycheck, we should also accept that we have a deeper calling — to do our part to help make the world just a little better,” he said. “We come together to ask for the gifts of the Holy Spirit because we dare to believe we really can make a difference. We are capable of renewing the face of the earth, or at least trying — at least, doing our part with the help of God.”

Following the homily, Cardinal Wuerl conferred the Canonical Mission — the authorization to teach in the name of the Church — to William Daniel of the School of Canon Law.


Mass of the Holy Spirit from CUA Video on Vimeo.


In his remarks after Mass, University President John Garvey advised students to live the virtue of constancy in their academic, spiritual, and personal lives.

“When the alarm goes off at 6 a.m., constancy is the virtue that gets you out of bed in time for Mass, because you are a Christian striving to grow in holiness,” President Garvey said.

“It’s the virtue that keeps you in the library when your friends call it a night because you are a scholar determined to excel in your field. It is the virtue that gives you the conviction to opt-out of the hookup culture, because you are a child of God made for love far greater than that.”

Garvey encouraged students to follow Pope Francis’s example of constancy by taking small, concrete steps to follow Christ. Garvey encouraged students to participate in the Archdiocese of Washington’s #WalkwithFrancis initiative by making concrete commitments to pray, serve, and act. Garvey also pledged to participate in the initiative and said he would serve at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Brookland.

“If we call ourselves Christians, we must affirm that fact in our actions,” Garvey said. “This is constancy.”

Following Mass, all students who pledged to participate in the initiative received blue wristbands marked #WalkwithFrancis. In his closing remarks, Cardinal Wuerl noted that if everyone wears the bracelets during the papal Mass on Sept. 23, it will be a visual reminder of the University’s commitment to service and prayer.

  University President John Garvey is seen with new banners welcoming Pope Francis to campus.

After Mass, students exited the basilica to the sight of new “Welcome Pope Francis” banners hanging on the University Mall, as well as cardboard cutouts of the Pope with which they could take photos. Several students spoke about the growing excitement around campus in the weeks leading up to Pope Francis’s visit.

“I went to Rome last fall and I got to see Pope Francis while I was there, but to have him come to us instead of going to him is just an amazing thing,” said senior Anne Ahlering. “I think it’s going to bring a lot of life to this campus as well as to all the people who are coming and traveling here. It’s going to be a blessed time.”

“The campus is kind of crazy right now trying to get ready for this, but everyone is really excited to have him here,” said senior Katie Fournier. “It’s definitely an honor.”

Both Ahlering and Fournier said they have been coming to the Mass of the Holy Spirit each year they’ve spent at the University. Now they are looking forward to participating in the #WalkwithFrancis initiative.

“I think it’s great because it brings to life what we’re being called to do,” said Fournier. “We should already be doing these things — praying, serving, and acting, and just sharing the truth that we’ve learned and we’ve studied through this campus. It’s definitely a good push, like, ‘Let’s recommit ourselves to this mission.’”




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