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Post Ida, Loyola Celebrates Community with Mass of the Holy Spirit

By Loyola University on Wed, 09/22/2021 - 14:22

500-year-old tradition is celebrated by Jesuit colleges and universities around the world

(New Orleans – September 22, 2021) In the wake of Hurricane Ida, the Loyola University New Orleans student body gathers next week to partake in a nearly 500-year-old tradition celebrated at Jesuit schools worldwide.

That tradition—Mass of the Holy Spirit—is especially spectacular at Loyola University New Orleans, the only one of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities nationwide to have a College of Music and Media. 

“Our Mass of the Holy Spirit is a transformative experience,” said Loyola President Tania Tetlow. “We come together, across all of our faiths and beliefs, to pray for wisdom.  We remember to be good to each other.  We perform the rituals of the Mass as men and women have done for thousands of years.  And we do it in a way that is uniquely and creatively Loyola New Orleans, with orchestras, choirs, dancers, and song.

The annual Mass of the Holy Spirit will be celebrated on Tuesday, September 28th at 12:30 p.m. in Holy Name of Jesus Church. This oldest of all traditions at Loyola marks the spiritual beginning of the new academic year. Join the entire university community as we gather to pray to the Holy Spirit, which strengthens and guides our efforts in these extraordinary times.

Cymbals crash, trumpets sound, voices soar, dances grace the aisles. 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 the historic Holy Name of Jesus Church and surrounds all present, represents the embrace of the Holy Spirit.

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.  The community comes together to pray for grace and guidance during the academic year. 

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.

“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 of the beautiful Mass of the Holy Spirit at Loyola New Orleans.