|The annual mass for the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of the University, drew nearly 1,000 people.|
On January 28 we celebrated our annual mass for the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of the University. By tradition the celebrant (Very Rev. John Langlois, O.P.) and the homilist (Rev. Thomas Petri, O.P.) were, like St. Thomas himself, members of the Order of Preachers. Last year we connected the celebration to National Catholic Schools Week and invited the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) to join with us. This year Brother Robert Bimonte, President of NCEA, was the lector; students from several area Catholic schools sent delegations. The celebration of our patronal feast seems to get bigger every year. This year and last year the mass was televised live on the Eternal Word Television Network. This year we moved it to the upper church in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and, with the help of the Office of Campus Ministry and its student ministers, welcomed nearly 1,000 participants. ‘Unique’ is an overused term but I think it is apt. No other university in America holds a nationally televised mass to inaugurate the spring semester and bless the work that Catholic schools do across the nation.
|President John Garvey with students at the March for Life.
On January 20 I joined more than 550 members of the University community in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. This year I worked with about 85 of our students at the Washington Hebrew Congregation packing clothes and making casseroles for distribution to the needy. On January 22 my wife and I joined our students on the March for Life in freezing temperatures. As has become customary, the University offered hospitality the evening before the march to young people from around the country. Two hundred and fifty of our students volunteered to help on campus and throughout the night at the Basilica’s all-night vigil for life. I feel like a proud parent when I see so many of our students taking part in activities like these. I admire them for their commitment to promoting justice and defending the unborn.
On January 5 our Provost, Dr. James Brennan, joined a delegation of nine provosts from American universities on a visit to Israel. The trip was facilitated by Project Interchange, an educational institute of the American Jewish Committee. The delegation met with Israeli academic and business leaders, including representatives of Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University. The trip coincided with a public controversy ignited by the American Studies Association, which called on universities to boycott Israeli universities to protest Israeli government policies. I joined 100 other university presidents in voicing my objection to the ASA’s boycott. You can read my statement here.
I am delighted by the recent progress on the Monroe Street Market, our south campus development project. On January 11 we hit a new milestone. Potbelly Sandwich Shop, a casual eatery with dine-in and take-out options, opened its doors on the corner of Monroe and 7th Streets. In December the Bozzuto Group announced that Monroe Street Market will also be home to the popular restaurant Busboys and Poets. It will open next fall. And just last week we learned that a restaurant called Brookland Pint will be opening in the development project later this year, perhaps in July.
New Year’s Day marked the official one-year anniversary of the founding of our School of Business and Economics. I want to congratulate Dean Andrew Abela on a successful first year. On January 29 we celebrated the event with mass and an informational open house.
On February 1 we will recognize six new inductees into our Athletics Hall of Fame with a celebration hosted by the Alumni Association.
The semester is already in full swing. This Spring I am teaching a course on The Virtues to freshmen in our University Honors Program. Like many of you, I look forward to the arrival of the season the semester is named for. Right now it seems a distant hope. But before you know it the crocuses will replace the polar vortex that has overstayed its welcome.