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Jenkins encourages truth, holiness

John-Paul Witt | Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The importance of seeking both spiritual and intellectual satisfaction was the main theme of the homily University President Father John Jenkins delivered Monday at the annual Mass in celebration of the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas.

“Many universities speak about their goal being truth, but our goal is love,” Jenkins said.

More than a hundred people filled the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to commemorate the feast day of Aquinas, the patron saint of Catholic universities and students.

Jenkins asked the University community to remember “while we seek the truth, we also seek to be holy.”

“At this Catholic university, let us be reminded that we are oriented toward truth in our faith, truth that we should witness in our lives,” he said.

Jenkins drew from his background as a philosophy professor, explaining that he studied Aquinas for many years because the writing was “simple, but powerful.”

“He pursued truth, but through faith and hope,” Jenkins said.

Recalling the words of Pope Benedict XVI in the encyclical “God is Love,” Jenkins said the teachings of Aquinas draw students to “a deeper faith.”

“We are reminded that we are called to the pursuit of truth,” he said, “not just to inspire the mind, but to love God and one another.”

Junior Jarrod Waugh said he found Jenkins’ remarks about the mission of a Catholic university inspiring. Waugh is a theology major, a seminarian in the Old College Program and president of the Notre Dame branch of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization.

“It’s amazing that, while we’re trying to be a great academic university, we also have a president that can consecrate the Eucharist, something that most other universities would find ridiculous,” Waugh said. “That’s what makes Notre Dame and its mission unique.”

The Notre Dame Liturgical Choir conducted the Music and prayers in the Mass almost entirely in Latin – a standard practice at Notre Dame, said Liturgical Choir director Gail Walton.

“We try to use as many of the four hymns St. Thomas Aquinas composed in Latin as we can for this Mass,” she said.

This marked only the second occasion this Mass was celebrated in the Basilica, Walton said.

“This Mass was celebrated in the Alumni Hall chapel, but when Father Jenkins became president, he decided that it should be celebrated with the entire Notre Dame community,” she said.