Lindsey Morales (right) serves as a student Eucharistic Minister at the student
Mass celebrated each Sunday in Xavier Chapel through the academic year.
Sunday, senior Sharus Anderson joins approximately 125 other USF students
at 9 p.m. for Mass in Xavier Hall. Sitting on folding chairs around a simple
altar, Anderson sings with the student choir, listens to student readers,
and is given Communion by students acting as Eucharistic ministers. Although
Anderson can also attend one of four Sunday Masses held at St. Ignatius Church,
she likes the one designed especially for students.
feels really nice to be in here together. We participate and sing along,"
said Anderson, a marketing major. "It's a chance for me to relax and reflect."
A Mass for students has been around as long as the university, providing
worship services for its many Catholics and Christians. Gradually, however,
it has focused more on student participation, encouraging students to be
readers or to prepare and give Communion. Last year, the Mass was moved from
St. Ignatius Church to Xavier Hall, to give students a more intimate setting.
With a general assembly of 125 to 150 students, it's become an experience
in not just receiving, but providing Church ritual.
"It is our hope that students see this as their own worship experience,
to help them see themselves as ministers, learn about the traditions of the
Church, and take responsibility for their own spirituality," said Don Crean,
associate director of University Ministry and the director of the student
Mass for the last eight years. Crean, Choir Director Dan Schutte, and USF's
14 resident ministers help organize the students in their various roles.
Thornton, a sophomore psychology and education major, said although she is
a Baptist she appreciates the homilies geared to students. Priests from the
USF Jesuit community give the homilies at the Mass.
message is nice because it's for college students," Thornton said. "(The
priests) relate the Word to our experience."
student worshipers said they have pursued other University Ministry activities
as a result of attending the Mass. Weiqing Zhang, a graduate student in business,
said she has joined a weekly Bible study group for students. Diego Garcia,
a sophomore accounting major, said he hopes to participate in University
Ministry retreat programs as part of his church activities.
"As a Catholic student, I want to make this a big part of my life," he said.