Since its opening on Sept. 17, 1887, Gonzaga University has developed a number of traditions and rituals. But while some practices have arisen in more recent years, one annual celebration is much older than the school itself.
A tradition that began in 1548, the Mass of the Holy Spirit is “an opportunity for the entire GU community to pray for the guidance and wisdom of God’s Spirit as we undertake the work of our mission during this academic year," according to Gonzaga’s weTombsite.
GU’s Mass of the Holy Spirit took place on Tuesday, at St. Aloysius Church. Aside from labs that meet only once a week, all classes were canceled that conflicted with Mass and the luncheon afterward.
The Mass began with a Tribal Land Acknowledgement delivered by Associate Academic Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Raymond Reyes. The land acknowledgment served to recognize the homelands of the Spokane Tribal People, where GU resides.
Following the acknowledgment, Vice President for Mission Integration Michelle Wheatley reminded the community of the Mass’s history and purpose.
“We gather in this sacred space to be a part of the Jesuit tradition—dating back to the 16th century, to begin the academic year in prayer, to call upon the Holy Spirit to guide all of us,” Wheatley said.
With the academic year underway, Fr. Tom Lammana, S.J., used his homily to challenge students to see God’s will for them.
“We can know God’s will for us,” Fr. Lammana said. “We can discern it because God isn’t trying to play a game of hide and seek, but God wants us to know so that we can love. We call on God for greater sanity and wisdom. We call on God for faith, faith that God loves us first, faith that God loves all of creation and then we respond to that.”
GU President Thayne McCulloh wrapped up the Mass by thanking those in attendance and stressing its importance.
“Thank you for being here this morning because this is a tradition, not only at Gonzaga University but at all of our sister universities across the country and around the world,” McCulloh said. “It was on Sept. 17, 1887, that Gonzaga University first came together to celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit. And at that time and also this morning, we ask God to send the Holy Spirit upon our community and upon each one of us, to guide us. And in a very special way, we do that in the context of a very difficult time for our nation and our world, but hopeful nonetheless that we will be successful.”
For the seniors, it was their last Mass of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, the seniors were recognized a few times during the Mass.
GU sophomore Carson Coffey was happy to see the seniors be celebrated at the Mass.
“It was nice to see how they honored the seniors in a way to start their year off right since this is their final year," Coffey said. "Because of COVID, maybe last year wasn’t ideal for [seniors] to have the college experience, but this is a great way to start the year.”
Whether it’s seniors beginning their last year or freshmen looking for a good start to college, the Mass of the Holy Spirit brought the community together and celebrated those in all stages of their experience at GU.