En el nombre del Padre, del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo. Amén. (In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.)
On Thursday, December 12th, Campus Ministry hosted a mass that was different from all others in more ways than one. Not only was it on a Thursday, instead of the usual Friday morning, but the Mass was both spoken and sung in Spanish. In addition, the Mass celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of the Americas.
Campus Ministry Director Mrs. Gretchen Crowder greeted the congregation in Spanish, taking many students by surprise. She explained how all the prayers and psalms would be in Spanish and explained its purpose in honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. The choir began with their introductory psalm, while the acolytes carried the cross up to the altar. Following them, two students held an oval-shaped painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with 10 students with prayer candles leading them. Father Leo Leise and Father Billy Huete brought up the rear of the procession.
Father Leise presented the homily in English. He told the story of Juan Diego, a humble man in Mexico who was walking to Mass in December 1531. He heard a young girl’s voice yelling from the top of the hill. As any man should, Juan Diego ran up to the top to ascertain the problem. Upon viewing the girl, he automatically recognized her as the Virgin Mary. Mary asked Juan Diego to tell the Bishop to build a chapel in Mary’s honor at the top of the hill. So, Juan Diego went to the Bishop and told him of his experience, and the Bishop asked for proof of his conversation with the Holy Mother. Juan Diego went back to Mary asking for a sign to prove her identity. She promised that the sign would come in due time.
Mary’s first sign to Juan Diego was healing his uncle, who at the time had been very ill. Juan attempted to use this as proof for the Bishop, but to no avail. He maintained his stance on the matter and asked for hard evidence. A few days passed, and again, Mary appeared to Juan, commanding him to pick the roses from the hilltop to give to the Bishop as proof. Being December, no flowers were in bloom because of the cold, even in the temperate climate of Mexico. Juan found some flowers, picked them, and wrapped them in a cloak to give to the Bishop.
On December 12, when Juan Diego opened the cloak to show the roses to the Bishop, the flowers fell to the floor. On the fabric of the cloak was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. As a result, the Our Lady of Guadalupe became the patron saint to Mexico, and eventually transcended this status to become the patron saint for the entire Americas.
Father Leise’s homily confirms the idea that God chose Mary to lead us to Jesus and to God. “The story of Juan Diego reminds everyone that Mary had appeared to many people in many different countries in different forms,” summarizes Mrs. Crowder. “Catholics often get ridiculed for ‘worshipping’ Mary, but in actuality she brings our needs to her son. She is mother of all.”
Mass continued with the Our Father, Communion, and Closing, all said in Spanish. At the end of the service, Spanish teacher Mr. Raul Ornelas and Dean of Student Affairs Mr. Mark Knize, speaking in Spanish and English respectively, expressed their gratitude for the work put in towards executing ‘La Misa en Español’ (The Mass in Spanish).
Mrs. Crowder emphasized the amount of time and effort it took to do this Mass. “Father Leise, Father Huete, Mr. Joe Nava, Ms. Ann Morton and Mr. Zane Crownover from the Men’s Choir, and I met in October to talk about the fact we were going to do the mass this way. Two weeks ago we met with the Foreign Language Department and asked them who their strong Spanish students were that might want to get up and help lead. We practiced with the students [on Wednesday]. The choir has been practicing for a couple of weeks. And finally, Mr. Nava put together a script of the Spanish Missal.”
On the other hand, Father Leise had a bit less to worry about. “I looked at the readings, prayed for enlightenment, reviewed the story of Juan Diego and Guadalupe, and I checked the set-up of the Missal.” Unlike some of the other Jesuits on staff, Father Leise lived in Paraguay for 5 years, so readings from the Spanish Missal come naturally to him. Therefore, “it was quite easy” for him to make the transition from English to Spanish.
However, this was not the case for many students and faculty members of the congregation. At Jesuit, three languages are offered: Spanish, French, and Latin. Those who were learning French or Latin were sometimes confused, except when English visual aids were present or during the homily. Even some students taking Spanish classes were lost. Nonetheless, “In whatever language the Mass is celebrated, it is God’s sacrifice to man,” explained Miguel Sotelo ’14.
Both Father Leise and Mrs. Crowder agree that, as a whole, the mass gave the students a great opportunity to be exposed to another language. In addition, they feel that the Mass allowed some of the Hispanic students to be themselves at school with a familiar style of worship. Father Leise also noted some of the feedback his students gave him. “One kid told me that the Mass helped him with his speaking portion of his Spanish December Assessment. I have really only gotten positive feedback from my students.”
As the first semester rolls to a stop, with the new year right around the corner, Campus Ministry has exciting plans for the spring semester. Two exciting guest deacons will bless us with their presence: Mr. Robert Murphy, former Director of Campus Ministry, now ordained a deacon, as well as, Mr. Quang Tran, a former Spanish teacher at Jesuit, who was also ordained a deacon. “We will also have some alumni come in and talk about their faith lives after Jesuit. In addition, we will have Mr. Paul Kolker, mathematics teacher, go through the Examen step-by-step in a prayer service to give it a little more significance,” adds Mrs. Crowder.
There are more new and exciting things to come from Campus Ministry. Stay tuned!