Filled with the Holy Spirit


Tom Hynes, Contributing writer

The Mass of the Holy Spirit is the first all-school event of every school year. It fosters a sense of community and fellowship based in Mercy tradition. This year, the Mass took place Sept. 20 and was followed by a community picnic outside of Zurn.

The Rev. Jim Piszker, Mercyhurst chaplain and interim director of campus ministry, was joined by Rev. Msgr. Edward B. Branch, of the Atlanta Diocese, to celebrate the Mass.
Branch has been an influential figure in the Atlanta community, presiding at various colleges and parishes for over 40 years. He has overcome racial adversity in his life and continues to work for a sense of equality and justice for the poor and marginalized.

Branch’s homily was heavily focused on “removing one’s figurative clothing” to remember who we really are. This message was highly relevant to the congregation, which was made up of all different students on the Mercyhurst campus and Erie community.

Those who attended the Mass were not all necessarily Catholic or religious, but came from many different backgrounds.

Piszker expressed happiness to the wide variety and large number of students who attended, and wanted students to take away a particular value from the Mass, whether they are religious or not.
“For students, I think the important thing for them to carry away from an experience like this is the appreciation that they can call upon the Holy Spirit all the time,” Piszker said. “The Spirit can be a guiding force, a comforting force, a force that offers focus and direction. All we have to do is ask.”

The Mass of the Holy Spirit is a yearly tradition for a reason, and it is one that should not be ignored. The day of fellowship and faith allows faculty, staff and students to lift each other up, bringing the university closer.

“This certainly was not your average Catholic Mass,” freshman Owen Roberts said. “Either way, the message did hit home and all the extra time in Mass gave me a longer time to think about it.”
Beyond the message, however, the relevance to the Mercy tradition of Mercyhurst is clear in that all members of the community are able to find our own place within it, lifting each other up for the good of all.

At the mass, President Michael T. Victor was pleased to note that it was the most heavily attended one yet.

“For me, I think that the Mass of the Holy Spirit, which is of Jesuit origin, speaks to the Mercy tradition in that it resonates with the desires of the Sisters to lift people up, to assist them to see their full potential, to be empowered and to achieve being their best selves,” Piszker said.

The Mass serves as a reminder that no one lives exclusively on their own. We all need a strong community for support.