CS PHOTOS BY JACLYN LIPPELMANN
Cardinal Donald Wuerl celebrates a Mass of the Holy Spirit for The Catholic University of America’s community in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Sept. 8. The Mass of the Holy Spirit is celebrated annually at Catholic schools to invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the campus community and begin the academic year in prayer.
CS PHOTOS BY JACLYN LIPPELMANN Cardinal Donald Wuerl celebrates a Mass of the Holy Spirit for The Catholic University of America’s community in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Sept. 8. The Mass of the Holy Spirit is celebrated annually at Catholic schools to invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the campus community and begin the academic year in prayer.
At the Mass opening the school year at The Catholic University of America, Cardinal Donald Wuerl encouraged students and faculty gathered in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to make visible the faith of the university through the way they live their lives. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, was a concelebrant of the Sept. 8 Mass of the Holy Spirit.

After welcoming the students, and especially the class of 2020, Cardinal Wuerl, who serves as the chancellor of the university, spoke about the “unique moment in the life of the Church” during the beginning of this academic year. He pointed out that those who had entered the basilica through the front entrance had the opportunity to pass through the Jubilee Door of Mercy, which he said is a reminder that “Pope Francis has called all of us this year to reflect on the loving embrace of God’s mercy and how it is always there for us.”

In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl then recalled that it was just a year ago that Pope Francis visited the same basilica where they were seated. He remembered riding with the pope as he drove through the campus on the popemobile, and how the cheers coming from the section reserved for students caused the decibel level to quadruple.

“So touched was our Holy Father by the obvious affection of the students on this campus that he instructed the driver to turn around and retrace the route,” said Cardinal Wuerl. After he did so, the pope was able to greet the students on the other side of the crowd.

Cardinal Wuerl also recalled Pope Francis’ homily from the Canonization Mass, which he celebrated on the East Portico of the Basilica, where he “reminded us that one of the best ways of telling the story of our Catholic faith and what it means to us is the way in which we live it.”

In addition to the obvious physical signs of being at The Catholic University of America, such as the large basilica adjoining the campus or the crucifixes in every classroom, Cardinal Wuerl said their Catholic faith should be seen through “a visibility that goes out of our way of living, our actions, our testimony in our lives.”

“The Catholic University of America boasts that it is the national Catholic University and thus we should expect to see, on this campus, manifestations of our faith alive,” he continued.

He encouraged students to listen to Pope Francis’ call to be evangelizing disciples, and said they could do that by first renewing their own faith, and then going out to encounter, to accompany, and to engage others.

The cardinal reminded the students that St. Junípero Serra, whom Pope Francis canonized at the Basilica, had a motto of ‘Always forward,’ and said, “May that be the motto of all of us as this new academic year opens.”

Cardinal Wuerl concluded his homily by saying, “What a wonderful year this will be as we all go forward, always forward, in being who we say we are and in trying to live out our declaration that we are The Catholic University of America and that life on our campus will always reflect the love of God, the forgiveness of Christ and the enlivening, energizing power of the Holy Spirit.”

After the homily, Cardinal Wuerl conferred canonical authorization upon four professors teaching in the School of Philosophy and the School of Theology and Religious Studies. This conferral gives newly appointed faculty members authorization to teach in the name of the Church, since the Holy See recognizes academic degrees from those schools. Vincent DeGeorge, a first-year seminarian at the Theological College, was particularly impressed by this part of the Mass, as he said it “reinforces that what they’re teaching and what we are learning is part of a larger context of the Church.”

At the conclusion of the Mass, John Garvey, Catholic University’s president, said, “We begin each year with a Mass of the Holy Spirit to entrust our work to God’s care” and to “look at what we are doing at The Catholic University of America,” in order to see the big picture before getting engrossed in assignments and tests.

Garvey equated the role of the Catholic faith in the university to the role of flour when baking. He said, it “elevates what is already there,” just as they hope to use the Catholic faith to inform and elevate all subjects taught at the school.

“We are here to cultivate catholic, with a small ‘c,’ minds,” Garvey said, referring to students having broad and wide-ranging intellectual interests. He continued, “To do that, we cultivate Catholic, with a big ‘C,’ minds.”

Garvey concluded, “As we begin this academic year, let us pray that the Holy Spirit will instruct our hearts so we may be truly wise.”