Today marks the beginning of Holy Week, one of the most celebrated weeks in the Catholic liturgical calendar. For UP Campus Ministry, the ability to gather and celebrate will be especially meaningful because the arrival of COVID-19 last spring forced them to cancel their in-person masses and services.
The most notable change to Campus Ministry’s celebration of Holy Week will be in the celebration of the Easter Sunday mass. Weather permitting, this year’s mass will be offered outside on the Academic Quad in order to both foster a sense of community and ensure participants’ safety. Students, faculty and staff who are interested can RSVP here.
Though certain changes will have to be made this year for COVID-19 safety purposes, Campus Ministry will still be offering in-person masses throughout the week, and will also offer the option to livestream masses on their YouTube page.
While most large masses have traditionally been held in the Chiles Center, this will be the first one in recent years to be held outside. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets or chairs to set up on the lawn in the Academic Quad. Despite the various challenges involved in holding such a unique Easter Sunday mass, Fr. Jim Gallagher views it as a rewarding opportunity to bring UP’s faith community together despite all the challenges they have been faced with.
“I think the campus community has really felt how hard it is not being able to gather together in person, and I’m hoping that this Easter Sunday liturgy might help us think about what it will be like to slowly move back into doing more and more together,” Fr. Gallagher said. “Because a lot of people attend Easter Sunday Mass, we are definitely keeping everyone’s safety in mind, and we are hoping that people who may have been wary about coming to mass in the chapel will feel more comfortable coming together outside.”
In addition to Campus Ministry staff, this experience is also exciting for students involved in Campus Ministry’s programs and events, due to the fact that last year many on-campus students were sent home before the start of Holy Week due to COVID-19.
Junior Faith and Formation Ambassador Kaylan Tate sees celebrating Holy Week as a way for students to slow down and reflect on a very busy and trying year.
“I think that especially at this point in the semester, Holy Week is the perfect time for us all to just slow down, take some time away from our routines and hit the reset button,” Tate said. “Even going to mass every Sunday is refreshing just because I can get that experience of an in-person community.”
Because Easter Sunday is one of the most widely attended masses of the year, those who plan on going are highly encouraged to RSVP at the above link, mask up, bring their own blankets or chairs, and be diligent about social distancing for the safety of the UP community. A full schedule of this year’s Holy Week celebrations can be found on UP Campus webpage.
Ajay Davis is a reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.