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October, 2019

The Mass of the Holy Spirit

I would like to begin by returning to an event I previewed in my column last month. The University’s opening Mass, the Mass of the Holy Spirit on Sept. 2, was my first as a member of the Catholic University community. The Great Upper Church was filled to capacity with our students, faculty and staff — no small feat given the size of the space. For a newcomer like me, it was one more sign of an aspect of Catholic University’s culture that has deeply impressed me over the three months I have been here.

The vibrancy of the Catholic faith life on campus is remarkable. I have observed this in multiple ways — through my interactions with the professional staff in Campus Ministry, with the army of student ministers deployed among the student population, and through my daily encounters with students, especially over the summer when I lived in Camalier and ate all my meals in the Pryz. During the weekend of Sept. 10-12 my wife Jeanne and I traveled to Camp St. Charles in Newburg, Md., to join 300 of our students in the freshman retreat. It was uplifting to see so many young people volunteer to spend their time in such a meaningful way, and to spend their own money to do it.

In the course of my academic career I have worked at four universities before coming to CUA. Nowhere else have I seen so much of the leadership and implementation of events entrusted to the students themselves. Take for example the student ministers associated with Campus Ministry, and the scores of students who staff orientation activities under the guidance of the associate dean of students. When I first heard of this business model I confess that I was skeptical about whether it would work. I now realize that I had no cause to be worried. As many parents and students themselves told me, orientation was magnificently run. And I have seen how well our student ministers work. All of this is a tribute to our students and, of course, to the professionals who lead them in Campus Ministry and the Division of Student Life. It is one of Catholic University’s success stories that I look forward to sharing with our alumni and others.

Sharing stories like this, and communicating in a hundred other ways, is a really important part of a President’s job. Before I began work here in July I understood this in a theoretical way. But experiencing it firsthand is quite a different thing. I have found myself speaking in front of groups, large and small, far more often than I could have imagined. In the last month I have done more than 25 talks, speeches, remarks, and articles for newspapers, magazines, and online outlets. In about half of these cases I have focused on explaining my vision for Catholic University.

President John Garvey chats with Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron (Board of Trustees chairman) and new BOT member Stephen J. Kaneb at the Sept. 27-28 retreat.

That is what I did at the annual retreat for our university’s Board of Trustees, which met on campus Sept. 27-28. In addition, at the retreat Provost James Brennan, Vice President Susan Pervi, and Vice President Cathy Wood gave a progress report on the 2006 Strategic Plan, and I had an opportunity to provide a preview of the process for creating a new strategic plan.

Speaking of the planning process, I have appointed Dr. Brennan and Ms. Wood to serve as co-chairs of our new Strategic Planning Committee. I have also appointed Vice President Frank Persico to chair the University committee to prepare for Inauguration Day on Nov. 18. You will be hearing more about that before long. In next month’s column I will announce the leadership of committees I am establishing for Inauguration Year events (exclusive of Inauguration Day) and for our upcoming 125th anniversary.

As for events coming up in the month of October, I will mention just two — one at the beginning and one at the end of the month. On Oct. 1-3, we will celebrate Homecoming and Reunions Weekend. Our alumni are important to the University in many different ways. I very much look forward to my first opportunity to meet the members of this important constituency. The second event, which has some connection to the first, is CUA’s first night football game, on Friday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. This nighttime game will be made possible because of the new lights installed at Cardinal Stadium, thanks to the generosity of our alumni and friends.

I had mentioned earlier that I spent the summer months living in Camalier. Together with Jeanne, I have since moved into Nugent Hall, which is now my place of work and residence. Our dog Shiva has also relocated from Massachusetts to Nugent Hall. There are a lot of empty little rooms on the third floor (former bedrooms for the Vincentians who lived here).  In the course of the year we look forward to filling them during visits from our children and grandchildren.

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Last Revised 01-Oct-10 09:36 AM.