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Student Mass Continues Long Tradition

05-18-2004
StudentMass

Sophomore Lindsey Morales (right) serves as a student Eucharistic Minister at the student Mass celebrated each Sunday in Xavier Chapel through the academic year.

Every 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.

"It 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.

Antoinette 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.

"The message is nice because it's for college students," Thornton said. "(The priests) relate the Word to our experience."

Many 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.

Written by USFnews@usfca.edu