Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre celebrates Mass at Dahlgren Chapel

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Like most Monday mornings, I woke up, made myself breakfast and did some homework. I was midway through the semester, and used to my routine by now. Around 11:30, I went upstairs, put on a dress and headed to Dahlgren Chapel to sing at the noontime Mass.

Daily Mass is one of my favorite offerings at Georgetown. I love that, in the midst of the academic rigor and friendly competition that are integral to attending a top tier university, I also have opportunities to quiet down and meet Christ in the Eucharist several times a day.

But, Monday March 27 would be different from my usual routine. In fact, it was an especially important day. The Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, was visiting campus and would be attending the noon Mass that day. To commemorate the occasion, President DeGioia, Bishop Knestout and many Jesuits would also be in attendance.

Dahlgren Chapel was almost full as students and community members filed in. I’m sure at least a few people were surprised when they showed up that day expecting their usual Monday afternoon Mass.

There are few things better than watching 17 priests, the Auxiliary Bishop of D.C. and the Ambassador to the Holy See process to the altar of your college chapel in the middle of an otherwise ordinary afternoon. The priests filled much of Dahlgren’s north transept as Archbishop Pierre, Bishop Knestout and Fr. Lingan took their seats on the altar.

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Archbishop Pierre gave a homily about Christ’s mercy and love following the Gospel about Jesus healing the son of the Roman official in Cana. The Archbishop reminded us that Jesus gave free-flowing wine in abundance to fulfill human need during His first miracle in Cana, and for His second miracle, He gave life back to none other than a Roman’s son.

The Archbishop pointed out the parallel between wine and blood, a message we would hear again very soon on Holy Thursday. He reminded us to pray, so that we may better know the Person of Jesus – the study of the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ as they co-exist within one person – and better encounter Eternity’s invasion of time. He exhorted us to remember Pope Benedict XVI’s words, as repeated in the beginning of Evangelii Gadium, that “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

After the Liturgy of the Word ended, all the priests joined the bishops on the altar for the consecration. From my vantage point in the choir, I watched as they all placed their hands over their hearts and recited the prayers. They each raised pieces of the Eucharist and participated in the mystery of the Transubstantiation. Elbow to elbow, barely able to move, they each acted in persona Christi together.

After the Eucharist was distributed and the Archbishop gave the final blessing, I left the chapel and stood in the quad. I took a moment to reflect on the intensely grace-filled experience.

Where else could I attend such a beautiful Mass with important Church figures in the middle of a school day? After drinking in the wonder of it, I returned home, changed into my jeans and went to my two o’clock class.

Written by Lilly Flashner, C’17

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Holi Hai!

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On April 2, a cloud of red, blue, yellow, green, and orange powder descended on Copley Lawn as students of all backgrounds gathered to celebrate the Hindu festival of Holi.

Also known as the “festival of colors,” Holi originated in parts of India and Nepal. It is celebrated in the springtime as a mark of good weather and the triumph of good over evil. In terms of religious significance and Hindu origins, Holi is celebrated in recognition of Prahlad, a young devotee of God. Devout in his faith of the Lord, Prahlad agreed to sit in a fire with his wicked aunt Holika (who was supposed to be immune to fire), confident that the Lord would listen to his prayers and save him. Indeed, God saved Prahlad and instead, Holika burned despite her special power. Typically, a bonfire is lit the night before Holi in recognition of their story.

33496521143_b4ddd8dbe0_oThe festival is a great way to reign in the newfound sunshine and warmness in the air. It also a fun release for students in the midst of the final push of the semester. Boxes of color were placed in the center of the lawn and each student was given a cup to fill with the color of their choice. Brahmachariji began the morning with Āratī and some invocation prayers, and told us the story of how Holi came to be.

Soon thereafter, students excitedly ran to the center of the lawn, shouting the famous statement announcing the start of the festival, “HOLI HAI!” and proceeded to baste their friends with colors. No one was shy, digging in to each color and painting many faces and white T-shirts provided at the beginning of the event. Pictures were taken and many laughs were exchanged. After everyone had their fair share of fun with the colors, members of the Hindu Student Association (HSA) served Idli and Sambar, delicious rice patties and hot soup with curried vegetables, to all the hungry attendees. It was clear that everyone’s spirits were high and the event was a huge success.

It is always a pleasure to see our cultural and religious traditions so well received and provide such an outlet of fun and memories for the entire Georgetown community.

Written by Nishtha Raval, C’19

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Learning on the job: My Year as Secretary of the Campus Ministry Student Forum

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When I ran for the position of Secretary on the Campus Ministry Student Forum, I was completely out of my element.

I had a limited understanding of  the purpose of a board, and as it turns out, what I did understand was pretty flawed. But, I ran anyway. I wanted to be more involved with my faith community and with other communities on campus.

Although, the learning curve was steep, I was lucky it was fairly easy. I began to understand that the board was there to oversee faith organizations, ensure smooth communications and transitions, support the presidents of each community, and serve as a resource for the various technical aspects of the job.  

Eventually, I could articulate our mission, and discovered that by joining the executive board I was part of  a wonderful working community.  There were six members on the board, including myself. We had a fantastic working and social dynamic in which we could be vulnerable and trusting with each other while working as a team. This cohesive environment ensured that we were able to perform our duties in supporting our faith communities and their leaders.

Although the year was not without its challenges, we were able to fulfill our mission successfully.  The board helped student presidents reflect on their role as faith leaders in new ways. We facilitated chaplain-led discussions on important topics such as mental health, and oversaw training for future student leaders of our faith communities.  We also collaborated with our student government when reforms were introduced and with the faith communities when the federal government threatened our students. On the more technical side of things, we facilitated meetings for interfaith leaders, ensured best practices for treasurers and transitions, and helped promote events to the broader campus community.

Although I am only allowed to serve one term as Secretary, I am confident the CMSF will continue to grow. Joining an advisory board is a good learning experience. I learned about balancing the responsibility of an advisory role with the autonomy student organizations need to run themselves. My hope is that next year’s executive board continues to find new ways to support student leaders by providing them and their organizations with new tools and a reflective and practical space for student faith leaders to grow.  

Our faith communities can only flourish when their leaders do, and helping that happen is the purpose of CMSF.

Written by Piyusha Mittal, F’18

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Racial and Economic Justice in Baltimore

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In this interview with senior, Courtney Maduike, she reflects on her MAGIS Immersion trip to Baltimore. Another in a series of reflections about Alternative Break Programs (ABP) sponsored by the Center for Social Justice and Campus Ministry.

Tell us about your MAGIS Immersion trip

I spent my final spring break as an undergraduate in Baltimore, MD. The premise of the trip was to explore systems of racial and economic injustice in the city of Baltimore. We met with community partners tackling issues related to social justice ranging from food insecurity to education, to fair housing.

What did your experience teach you about yourself?

The ABP program places a lot of emphasis on reflection, particularly on their immersion trips. At the end of each day, we engaged in an Examen and reflected on the parts of our day that brought us great joy, as well as great discomfort. I was lucky enough to be on a trip where half of the group were seniors, which is apparently unusual for ABP trips.

As seniors coming to the end of our time on the Hilltop, we reflected on how the past four years have shaped us. In thinking of the future, and what post-graduation opportunities await us, the question of how to engage in community service and social justice work within the limits of one’s future profession. We also talked about the decision graduating seniors feel they are forced to make. Should we enter corporate America or work at a small, community-based non-profit?

As a child of immigrants, I am especially aware of how my graduating from an elite university and having a coveted corporate job, among other accolades, is a culmination of my parent’s American dream. Throughout the trip, I thought a lot about how my immigrant identity impacts the way I think and talk about post-graduation and how it intersects with my racial and socioeconomic identity. The frequent silences and opportunities for reflection forced me to confront the aspects of my identity that I love, as well as the uglier parts of my identity I try to shield from the world.

Did you meet someone or, a group of people through the program that left an impression on you? Describe how meeting them affected you and why.

One of my favorite community partners we visited was the Baltimore Algebra Project. The Algebra Project is a national network of non-profit organizations that serve as after-school programs. They offer tutoring programs along with a number of other education programs aimed at increasing access to quality education for young people. When we met the young people during our visit, I was taken aback by their bold leadership and substantive discussions. But, I soon realized, this is also something the Baltimore Algebra Project does; it equips students with the tools, language, and knowledge to advocate for their civil rights. The organization is an academic supplement for students, as well as an organizing body that teaches students the politics of advocacy, protest, and mobilization.

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17342780_10102223390245141_7619854576891870653_nDid the experience of participating in this program affect your plans for the future?

During my senior year, I’ve reflected a lot about how Georgetown has challenged and help me develop my sense of self. I came to understand my black identity in new ways, as well as my Christian identity while here. The trip to Baltimore allowed me to be vulnerable and become more comfortable with embracing these changes. While I recognize my journey to self-discovery is just getting started, it is through opportunities like my spring break trip that I am able to continue onto the next leg of the trip.

Written by Courtney Maduike, F’17.

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Jamaica: An International Immersion Experience

img_1091In this interview with Rev. Brandon Harris, he discusses his Magis excursion to Jamaica. Harris reflects on notions of community and shared humanity, and what happens to a society when profit is allowed to prevail.

Please, give us an overview of your trip.

The Magis Jamaica trip was sponsored by the Center for Social Justice and Campus Ministry, and was part of the Alternative Breaks Program. We stayed with local hosts and reflected together on the meaning of life in communities and the impact of profit over human dignity.

Tell us about your host.

We stayed at National Marian Shrine Our Lady of Dunsinane, in the Diocese of Mandeville, Jamaica. Our host was Fr. Patrick. He is of Kenyan descent and has been in Jamaica for many years. Fr. Patrick is charming, funny, and a deeply spiritual guide.

What does it mean to reflect on the meaning of life in communities?

We reflected on how life is lived in Jamaica around the intersections of religion, economics and ecology. Community in Jamaica is rooted around a strong familial and national identity, with an emphasis on hospitality and community around religion or familial origin. For example, we observed powerful family ties around an HIV Aids support group, as well as around a fishermen’s collective.

How did the students respond? 

The students met with fishermen on the south coast of Jamaica, spoke with women and men struggling with HIV, and shaved the faces of elders at a nursing home who had been abandoned by their families. As the students interacted with these people, I observed them starting to realize that community is formed around our shared humanity, and not around purely social, ethnic or religious belonging.

Our students were seeing that the devastation, whether it’s ecological, economic or political, is caused by forgetting our shared humanity. As we thought about a global community, we realized that Western Colonization often put profit before the care of humanity and care for the environment. As a group, we came to understand that justice is about putting care for others before profit, nation and self.

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What did the Magis Jamaica mean to you? 

I was moved by the students’ ability and willingness to listen and observe as others shared their stories. Our trip was not defined so much by our doing but by our witnessing; listening to the stories and lives of others.

Written by Rev. Brandon Harris, Protestant Chaplain, Law Center and Main Campus

 

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