The Catholic University of America

Campus Ministry

The Year of Mercy

“Lord Jesus Christ, You have taught us to be merciful like our heavenly Father…” This is the opening phrase of the Holy Father’s prayer for the Year of Mercy. It reminds us that we are called to share in the mission of Jesus by helping others to encounter Him through our words and actions. The Office of Campus Ministry provides many opportunities in the spring semester for our students to encounter the Lord and to extend His mercy to others.

The month of January saw more than 600 students, staff, and faculty fan out to serve the needs of our neighbors on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. On Jan. 22, CUA was invited to lead the March for Life by carrying the official flags behind the national organization’s banner. More than 40 of our students shared that honor while several hundred of our students were spread out behind them as the blizzard of 2016 was beginning. On Jan. 28, our annual Mass honoring our University’s patron, St. Thomas Aquinas, was televised on EWTN and CatholicTV. God indeed is merciful and generous to our community! The last weekend in January, 60 students began their spiritual preparation for their mission trips to the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Belize, and the southern border of the United States.

February affords us the opportunity to reflect deeply on our relation with Christ and one another as we move into the season of Lent. That reflection is shaped by Matthew Kelly’s new book, Rediscovering Jesus, which will be distributed to students as a guide to Lent 2016. From Feb. 17 to 21, St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe's relic will be displayed here at CUA for veneration. It is the 75th anniversary of the Martyr of Charity’s death in Auschwitz, where he gave his life for another prisoner. The Conventual Franciscan friar's sacrifice is one example of the merciful love that ordinary Christians offer to others in the name of Christ.

Lent also will be marked by the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which will be offered in every residence hall in March. Our online retreat is offered each month, emphasizing one of the spiritual works of mercy. The Senior Retreat Weekend, Men’s Retreat Weekend, and our two silent retreat weekends highlight the need for personal conversion as we prepare for the Easter Mysteries. And, as part of our annual Lenten observance, the candle light commemoration of the Stations of the Cross will take place during Holy Week.

Last year's Stations of the Cross

As a community, we will be praying for our students who are encountering Christ in our Rite of Christian Initiation program. The catechumens and candidates intensify their discernment to experience the mercy of God in the heart of the Christian community. The Scrutinies, the Rite of Acceptance, and the Sacraments of Initiation shape not only students entering the Catholic Church, but these milestones call all of us to renew our life in Christ.

In August 2015, Cardinal Donald Wuerl challenged all Catholics to extend the fruits of Pope Francis’s historic visit beyond the days he was here in the United States. The Year of Mercy and the spring semester affords CUA the opportunity to meet that challenge. The special events and Masses mentioned should not be seen as extraordinary for our CUA students. They are the natural outgrowth of our students’ weekly commitment to community service, catechesis, and prayer.

And, of course, the greatest point of encountering God’s mercy is in our community’s weekly adoration and celebration of the Eucharist. Our goal is to experience CUA as a powerhouse of mercy.