The global community of Ignatian institutions prayed in solidarity for the Holy Spirit’s guiding presence throughout the school year on Thursday.
The Mass of the Holy Spirit has become tradition at many Catholic colleges, particularly those of a Jesuit background. Jesuit schools have celebrated this Mass for nearly 500 years, beginning with the first Jesuit school in Messina, Sicily, in 1548.
The University held the Mass in the Byron Recreational Center at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 4.
Hundreds of students, faculty, staff and other members of the Scranton community attended, filling the seats and leaving only standing room.
Many athletic teams, student organizations and residence halls attended together in their uniforms or matching t-shirts. The women’s basketball, field hockey, and cross country teams, as well as the Center for Service and Social Justice were just a few of the groups in attendance not only to invoke the Holy Spirit in celebration of a new school year, but also to bond and to exercise unity.
President Rev. Quinn, S.J., offered the Mass in the company of numerous Jesuit brothers, including Rev. Richard Malloy S.J., and Rev. J. Patrick Mohr, S.J.
M. Jayne Lucas made her return as Director of Ministry and Liturgical Music following a medical absence and lead the Music Ministry in hymns such as “Spirit Blowing Through Creation” and “Taste and See.”
The homily, delivered by Quinn, discussed the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. Quinn began by referring to the first reading, which was from Ezekiel, and the concept of “coming out of exile” as it relates to second chances. He explained that the merciful power of the Holy Spirit performs a sort of “heart transplant,” replacing the stone hearts of man with hearts of love.
“All of us have been given a new heart and a new Spirit,” Quinn said. “The unity of God’s people is rooted in faith … God’s people—that’s you and me—are only fully alive when we live in God. This way, we form a radically new kind of community.”
Quinn went on to emphasize the impossibility of Christianity without love. He recalled the famous Pedro Arrupe quote, “Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.” Finally, he encouraged students to conduct “heart checks.”
“Ask yourself, ‘Am I falling in love with Jesus Christ? How is my heart?’” Quinn said. “Do a sign of the cross, remember the sacraments … do not look to yourself or the world—you will only find a stony heart. Look to Jesus; there is your heart.”
Following the Mass, the congregation gathered on the Dionne Green for a picnic and fellowship before classes resumed.
By Cailin Potami