Though classes have already begun, students, staff and other members of the Mercyhurst community came together at the Mass of the Holy Spirit on Sept. 6 to celebrate the spiritual beginning of the new academic year.
Even though Mercyhurst has changed a great deal since it was founded in 1926, the school still values an emphasis on the dignity of work and service to others, just as the Sisters of Mercy did and still do. The attendance of so many sisters at the Mass shows that they are still very much a part of what Mercyhurst has grown into.
“I think the Mass of the Holy Spirit is an important tradition at Mercyhurst because it reminds us of our Catholic roots,” said junior Caitlin O’Neill. “It’s always great to see so many people gather together for this occasion, whether they’re Catholic or not. It’s always great to gather as a community for a common cause.”
Sister Lisa Mary McCartney, Ph.D., warmly greeted everyone that attended the service and briefly introduced the purpose of the tradition. It serves as a reminder of Mercyhurst’s Catholic identity and Mercy heritage. McCartney noted that the event should serve as a reminder of the “Mercy way” to respect human dignity and extend hospitality to all.
In addition to containing the basic elements of Sunday Mass, this tradition uniquely showcases the talents of a number of Mercyhurst students and members of the Erie community. The Mass featured performances by the Mercyhurst Liturgical Dance Ensemble, the Mercyhurst Concert Choir and faculty and local musicians, which supplemented the regular chapel choir.
When asked what her favorite part of the Mass was, junior Monica Bader said, “My favorite part of the Mass was seeing all of the people that attended and hearing so many voices come together in harmony. It was just really powerful to hear that.”
The Rev. William Byron, S.J., a professor of Business and Society at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and prominent voice in the way of Catholic higher education, served as the lead celebrant of the Mass.
“I think that Rev. Byron’s message truly reflected the core values of Mercyhurst and demonstrated its commitment toward creating a just world,” said sophomore Sara Fox. “His homily challenged students to improve the campus community by practicing compassion, generosity, kindness and acceptance. In today’s world, this is an important reminder for people of all faith traditions.”
Despite having a new name, a new logo and a new building, Mercyhurst continues to preserves its history and identity through traditional events such as the Mass of the Holy Spirit.