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Mass of the Holy Spirit welcomes back Loyola students

Loyola press release - August 17, 2017

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. 7 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. Rev. James Carter, S.J., Ph.D., President Emeritus and Gerald N. Gaston Distinguished Professor in Religion & Science will give the homily. This year marks the 90th birthday of Fr. Carter, and the Loyola community will celebrate with a cake reception immediately following the Mass.

“The Mass of the Holy Spirit allows the greater Loyola community to welcome God’s spirit into our hearts as we begin the new academic year,” said the Rev. Ted Dziak, S.J. vice president of Mission and Ministry and University Chaplain. “It’s a joy-filled celebration of song, dance, music, and prayer and is a tradition at Jesuit schools around the world."

The Mass, an important and long-standing observance at Loyola, is celebrated at the beginning of every fall semester. 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 invited 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 invited 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.”

Click here to see a video and learn more about the beautiful Mass of the Holy Spirit at Loyola New Orleans.