Skip to comments.For All the Saints (Secular College Campuses Seeing Catholic Processions)
Posted on 10/29/2007 9:31:42 AM PDT by NYer
LINCOLN, Nebraska The November night air was crisp as the fraternities at the University of Nebraska prepared to outdo each other with their homecoming lawn displays.
Stereos blasted. Hammers pounded. Electric saws screeched.
Then the faint sound of singing began to filter down Greek row as a candle-carrying army approached.
One by one, radios were turned down, power tools switched off and fraternity brothers stood in silence as 200 college students walked past. They were led by priests, seminarians, religious sisters and Knights of Columbus. A four-posted canopy covered the Blessed Sacrament.
The hour-long Eucharistic procession in Lincoln, Neb., began at St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center several blocks away and included stops at three altars set up on campus the Student Union, Memorial Stadium and a field at the edge of Greek row.
That was All Saints Day 2006, and the students plan to repeat the event this year.
If it sounds like an unusual event a Eucharistic procession on the campus of a public university youre right. Its rare. But not unique.
Just over a month after that procession, nearly 100 students at North Dakota State University marched in a similar fashion led by Fargo Bishop Samuel Aquila continuing a five-year tradition in celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe as patroness of the unborn.
Starting at St. Pauls Newman Center, their procession proceeded along a candle-lined path and included prayers for faculty and students at the administration building, the library and a womens dorm before returning to St. Pauls for a pro-life speaker and Mexican fiesta.
The inspiration for such public displays of faith on campus came from different sources. North Dakota State University graduate Lisa Gray read John Paul IIs encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharista (The Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church) where he emphasizes the importance of processions in parish life. She said that knowing that the direction of education is at the forefront of shaping the philosophy and ideology today made the collegiate procession a great fit.
In Nebraska, Newman Center staff members were impressed by God in the Streets a video of a procession through New York City streets by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
Sanctify the Campus
For Father Jay Buhman, assistant pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas in Lincoln and coordinator of the event, the purpose was twofold: to foster devotion among the faithful and to sanctify the campus.
The first goal was accomplished more immediately than Father Buhman expected.
It was amazing when we got back to see the fire in the students eyes, he said. You could see that it invigorated their faith in the Eucharist and their Catholic faith in its entirety.
University of Nebraska sophomore Christopher Burton, one of four men chosen to carry the canopy, said that before the procession he wasnt embarrassed by his faith, but he wasnt comfortable sharing it.
Now when people ask me what Im doing that night, I say, Im going to Community Night and Mass. Would you like to join me? he said.
For Father Buhman, another aspect of the procession involved taking Jesus to the sidewalks of the campus. Even if passersby failed to understand what was happening, they still met Jesus in that moment, he said.
According to procession participants, most onlookers reactions mirrored that of the fraternity brothers wonder, curiosity, bewilderment.
It was an honest bewilderment that they had never seen anything like it before, Father Buhman said.
Ed Rubin, a 2007 Nebraska graduate, had a conversation with a student while taking pictures of the procession. As the young man asked questions, Rubin gradually explained that the object at the center was actually the Body of Christ.
I was just thinking of how crazy my words must sound, but I just kept going, Rubin said. He never said, Oh, thats dumb. He just kept listening.
Rubin said the student watched attentively as the group disappeared around the corner, so he invited the young man to join them. He declined, but repeated several times, Its just really beautiful.
For Jessica Lisman, a 2007 graduate, observing the procession as she walked to class drew her one step farther.
They made Catholicism seem really contagious something you want to be a part of, she said, adding that she wasnt raised in a particular church. It definitely elevated my interest in the Catholic Church and made me want to learn more about it.
After attending RCIA classes at St. Thomas Aquinas last year and seeking guidance from a Catholic friend there, Lisman has decided to become Catholic.
Out on a Limb
According to Curtis Martin, founder and president of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, whose staff members serve at both the University of Nebraska and North Dakota State University, events like a Eucharistic procession are valuable experiences because of the potential for such friendly and inviting conversation where evangelization is likely to happen.
The role of evangelization is never to impose the faith on anyone but to propose the faith to anyone whos interested, he said. These events draw inquiries out of people who are either away from the Catholic Church or have never been Catholic. Thats a unique opportunity on a secular campus.
Students and staff members alike admit they were a bit nervous at first to engage in such a forthright expression of faith on campus, but even the challenges turned into moments of grace.
In North Dakota, for example, the below-freezing temperatures provided an additional sacrifice for participants to attach to their prayers.
Thats how North Dakotans bond, said Tiffany Splonskowski, interim director of St. Pauls, with a chuckle. We defy the weather.
In Nebraska, organizers expressed concern about a low turnout, but they printed 100 songbooks anyway.
Father Buhman was quick to turn the focus back to Christ.
If it doesnt go well if nobodys there what matters is that we do this as an act of worship for Our Lord, he reminded the students.
On the night of the procession, the songbooks ran out within minutes.
As University of Nebraska students prepare to take Our Lord out on campus again this year for the feast of All Saints, Ed Rubin recalls the experience as a lesson in trust.
If you go out on a limb for [God], Hes not going to leave you out to dry, Rubin said. Great things will happen, but it requires people willing to go out of their comfort zone.
Wow! Another great post by you today NYer! Thanks!!
We revived some processions in our Cathedral parish a few years ago, and our young associate priest has been doing the Corpus Christi procession every year (and it’s growing).
This year, we got a “liturgist,” who says these processions are “embarrassing” and “too Spanish,” and of course she is backed by our newish modernist pastor (who says they violate separation of Church and State because the police block off the street so we can cross it!). If there’s one thing that modernists in the Catholic Church hate, it’s traditional public displays of faith.
But it’s sad that we have to worry not only about enemies on the outside, who hate any public expression of the Faith, but enemies among the Catholic clergy itself.
Besides, this "liturgist" should clue in these guys in Germany they're being too "Spanish."
Beautiful picture! Whose coats of arms are displayed on the banners?
**events like a Eucharistic procession are valuable experiences because of the potential for such friendly and inviting conversation where evangelization is likely to happen.**
We all need to take advantage of such events out in the public.
Sometimes the former Catholics are drawn in just by the presence of the Holy Eucharist. They are answering a call, but they don’t understand why their longing is drawing them into the procession.
Questions like “What brought you to the procession tonight?” or “Why are you here when you could be in your room watching the ball game/studying/________?”
God bless the Catholic students who do evangelize during these events. The words actually come from the Holy Spirit as promised in the Bible. Mine are just suggestions. Everyone will ask their own question. But after asking -— be quiet and listen! LOL!
Then ask another question if it is appropriate. (And continue the process, ending with and invitation to attend the next event — whether it is a Newmann Club meeting or next Sunday’s Mass.
what the heck?
I thought the "liturgists" liked "spanish" stuff ... they sure don't hesitate to drown us in treacly modernists "hymns" with lyrics in pidgen-spanish.
...at the risk of injecting less than reverential material into this excellent thread, I would posit this as well...the procession mentioned at UNebraska is not the only one taking place...the other is the long line of opposing teams scoring points against the Husker’s swiss cheese defense...
I live in a town that was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century and is proud of its Spanish heritage (well, now it is - after the Florida became a state and entered the Union, Andrew Jackson was sent to “de-hispanify” it and one of the things he did was suppress religious processions in places like Tallahassee, etc.).
Liturgists hate Spain. They love “Hispanics,” however, because the latter are generally lower-income, poorly educated folks and it’s very easy for the average upper middle class Anglo liturgist to condescend to them. She can feel she’s doing them a great favor by giving them some garbagy Marty Haugen-clone in pidgin Spanish to sing and then inflicting it on the rest of the congregation too.
Spain, on the other hand, represents orthodoxy and intellect, and that’s something that makes liturgists flee like mice from a Viking kitty.
Ah, Lincoln! A friendly diocese for orthodox Catholics thanks to its great Bishop, Fabian Bruskewitz!
The arms would be the diocesan ordinary, plus any other Bishops in the procession. At our Eucharistic Conference last month, we had our current Bishop, the Bishop Emeritus, and some Bishop from South Carolina.
Our parish in Norman used to do the Stations of the Cross on the University of Oklahoma campus on Good Friday. Students would carry the cross, and we’d walk all around to do the Stations. It got lots of attention.
Thank you for the explanation. Much appreciated.
LOL, quite true.
I studied heraldry in my wasted youth, and I would have been able to blazon those arms and Google to see which Bishops they belonged to.
If the poster mentioned which Diocese held the event in the picture, we could probably find the information.
My priest asks what the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist is and the answer is...”You can reason with a terrorist.”
I don’t think we have a liturgist.
The number of dangling curtain-tassels on the sides indicates the rank of the Bishop, so the one in the center (from our perspective in the photo) is probably the Archbishop of the region. It looks like the one on our left is at the front, so that’s probably the arms of the local Bishop who’s carrying the Blessed Sacrament. The third one could be an auxiliary of the Archbishop, a retired Bishop, or just a guest.