September 04, 2020

While they normally fill the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, students, faculty, and staff of The Catholic University of America came together virtually during this year’s Mass of the Holy Spirit, celebrated on Sept. 3. Due to limited capacity in the basilica because of the coronavirus pandemic, many from the University community watched the Mass on EWTN and CatholicTV.

The Mass, which traditionally marks the beginning of the academic year, was celebrated by Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory, archbishop of Washington, D.C., and University chancellor. Among the concelebrants were Very Rev. Mark Morozowich, dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies; Monsignor Ronny Jenkins, dean of the School of Canon Law; and Rev. Jude DeAngelo, O.F.M. Conv., University Chaplain and director of Campus Ministry. Prayers at this year’s Mass focused on the coronavirus pandemic and national harmony. 

During his homily, the archbishop called upon the Holy Spirit to “allow us to work for justice and harmony within our nation, among diverse peoples,” particularly on the Catholic University campus. 

“This year, the Mass of the Holy Spirit certainly must focus our humble petitions on more than the fruitful and successful and positive academic accomplishments, but also on the broader national healing, reconciliation, and peace that we clearly all need at this time,” Archbishop Gregory said. “We pray this day for the mending of relationships across racial, ethnic, and religious differences so that the world that our university students, administrators, and faculty will encounter tomorrow will be a place of justice and integrity for all people.”

Following the homily, Archbishop Gregory presented Rev. James Bradley, assistant professor of canon law, with the canonical mission. The conferral of canonical mission gives canonical authorization to newly appointed faculty to teach in the name of the Church and is given to members of the University’s ecclesiastical faculties.

In his closing remarks, University President John Garvey reflected on the unplanned solitude of students as a result of the pandemic. Garvey referenced the documentary Into Great Silence, where the inhabitants of a Carthusian monastery live a life of solitude and reflection, emphasizing the “value of slowing down.”

“The current regimen of enforced solitude is an unwelcome change from the way we usually begin our academic year. It’s especially so for our freshmen, and for other students who are having to spend time in quarantine,” Garvey said. “But try to think of it as an opportunity to reflect on what you would like to learn this year … as a moment to reassess the balance you have drawn among faith, study, and stuff. It would also be a perfect occasion to spend some time with God, and ask him what He thinks.”

Jessica Fetrow, B.A. 2021, Marketing and Communications Intern. For more information, contact

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