November 29, 2023


The Catholic University of America will begin the Advent and Christmas seasons with its annual Light the Season tree lighting and the Christmas Concert for Charity, hosted by the Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art. 

The campus community will gather Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. to light the campus Christmas tree in the third floor atrium of the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center.

Mackenzie Garrity, assistant director of Campus Activities, said the lighting is, “an important traditional event, not only for the university itself but because Light the Season serves as one of the waves within an important force that brings together the university community during this whirlwind time of year.”

This celebration includes remarks from University President Peter Kilpatrick and Father Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P., University chaplain and vice president of Ministry and Mission, followed by performances by Catholic University’s acapella groups. Attendees will also receive a complimentary ornament.


The annual Christmas Concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Great Upper Church. This free, annual concert draws standing-room-only crowds.

The concert will consist of performances by the Catholic University Choir and Symphony Orchestra under the musical direction of Murry Sidlin, professor of instrumental music and conducting.

President Kilpatrick said, "Our Annual Christmas Concert serves as a testament to the exceptional talents of our students. We eagerly anticipate filling the Basilica with the sounds of the seasons, creating an atmosphere of joy and unity."


Donations from this year’s concert will support The Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts here in the D.C., area, a charitable organization deeply committed to prayer, services to the poor, education, and healthcare. Their tireless efforts span continents, providing vital services ranging from education, in countries like India, Italy, Albania, and Argentina, to essential medical care in places like Haiti, Iraq, and Kenya.

The concert will be a celebration of festive seasonal music for choir and orchestra. Featuring more than 100 singers and musicians, the concert program will include selections from popular classical composers like Handel and Vivaldi and more Christmas holiday favorites. The concert will wrap up with an exciting medley of carols and, per tradition, a sing-along with the orchestra and choir. 

Olivia Buckley, a senior musical theatre major, has participated in the concert since her first year at the University. Buckley said she prioritizes the concert along with her courses, calling "it important to make time for practicing my art because it's what brings me the most joy in my life.”

Buckley said she tells community members, “Even if you don't think choral music is ‘your thing,’ give the Christmas concert a try. The music is truly moving even for people who wouldn't normally listen to this genre, and it truly puts you in the Christmas spirit. I promise, there's a few Christmas carols in there, too.”

A Season of Faith and Festivities



In addition to the tree lighting and concert, the campus will come further alive with events and activities sure to warm the heart and fill the soul, including:

  • CUA Nite Live: Crafts of Christmas Past

    Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center Great Room
    The night will be filled with nostalgia. Grab a Little Debbie snack, decorate a mini wreath, paint a candle, make a card, make a hot chocolate mason jar, and more.
    Learn more
  • Mistletoe Ball

    Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.
    Join the Program Board for its Annual Mistletoe Ball, an off-campus event filled with dancing and fun.
    Learn more
  • A Taste of the Holidays

    Dec. 5 at 4 p.m. in the Nest Event Space
    The Center for Cultural Engagement invites all to come learn about holiday traditions from around the world and sample different cultures' tasty dishes.

    Learn more

  • St. Nicholas Night for Grads

    Dec. 7 at  6 p.m. in the Happel Room
    Come and take a break before finals and celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas. Cake, ice cream, and Fr. Hugh Vincent's Holiday Hits will be offered.
    Learn more
  • Village of Lights

    Dec. 9
    See Centennial Village transformed into a Christmas village decked out in festive lights.
  • Walk with Mary

    Dec. 9
    Join Catholic University as we participate in the Archdiocese of Washington's annual Walk with Mary Pilgrimage. Learn more
  • Mañanitas to Our Lady of Guadalupe

    Dec. 12 at 6:30 a.m. in St. Vincent's Chapel
    A singing "Las Mañanitas" to Our Lady of Guadalupe will be followed by a Mass celebrated by Bishop Evelio Menjivar-Ayala., of the Archdiocese of Washington.

For a full list, visit the University’s Christmas activities page.