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Mass of the Holy Spirit welcomes back Loyola students

Loyola press release - August 24, 2016

Jesuit institutions around the world celebrate this 500-year-old tradition.

Students, faculty and staff at Loyola University New Orleans will gather next month to partake in a nearly 500-year-old tradition celebrated at Jesuit schools worldwide.

That tradition—Loyola’s Mass of the Holy Spirit—is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 8 in Holy Name of Jesus Church, 6367 St. Charles Ave. All 11 a.m. classes will be cancelled so that the entire Loyola community can attend the celebration.

Loyola President the Rev. Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D., will serve as the principal celebrant. The Rev. Gregory Waldrop, S.J., Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of art history and chair of the Loyola University New Orleans Department of Art, will give the homily.

“The Mass of the Holy Spirit is a truly joyful expression of our community's excited anticipation for all that a new academic year promises,” said John Sebastian, vice president of Mission and Ministry. “Through prayer and song and dance we join together in celebrating new beginnings and inviting God to inspire us both inside and outside of the classroom throughout the year to come.”

The Mass, an important and long-standing observance at Loyola and other Jesuit institutions nationwide, is celebrated at the beginning of every fall semester to pray for God's wisdom and inspiration through the experiences of the new academic year. The tradition dates to 1548, when St. Ignatius Loyola founded the first Jesuit school in Messina, Sicily, eight years after he founded the Society of Jesus religious order.

All students are expected to attend and sit with their affiliated club or organization (wearing their club T-shirt or uniform), floor of their residence hall or classmates. The entire university is expected to attend. While the Mass does not include an academic procession, seating for faculty and staff will be reserved at the front of the church.

At Loyola, students — many of whom hail from Loyola’s acclaimed College of Music and Fine Arts — participate in the mass as dancers, orchestra members, and singers. And in a beautiful tradition unique to Loyola New Orleans, approximately 200 yards of bright red fabric comes out from behind the crucifix and altar down into the sanctuary to encircle the congregants. The fabric, which spans the width and length of Holy Name church and surrounds all present, represents the embrace of the Holy Spirit.

“Throughout the year, at Loyola University New Orleans, we welcome people of all faiths to our masses,” said University Minister Ken Weber, pointing to the spirit of inclusion and diversity at Loyola. “Culturally, we all understand that we are all one together, we are here worshipping together, and we are worshipping the same God, regardless of the style.”

Watch our video of the beautiful Mass of the Holy Spirit at Loyola New Orleans.

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