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ND opens school year with annual mass, picnic

Liz O'Donnell | Wednesday, August 26, 2009

University President Fr. John Jenkins stressed the importance of community togetherness during his homily at the annual Opening Mass Tuesday evening at the North Dome of the Joyce Center Arena.

Students, faculty and community members gathered to kick off the new academic year with praise and worship. After the Mass, the congregation was invited to attend the opening day picnic on the Hesburgh Library Quad.

The multicultural Mass featured a number of different languages with intercessions delivered in seven different languages including Spanish, Swahili, Chinese and French. In addition, senior Alejandra Gutzeit gave the second reading of the evening in Spanish.

In his homily, Fr. Jenkins said that great journeys are never simple, and that it is not easy to follow a guide on a long journey. Such a journey is an even harder task, Jenkins said, for this to be done as a group, citing the example of Jesus leading his disciples on their journey of spirituality.

Jenkins said that Notre Dame is a community on a journey looking for truth. He said that combining academic learning and prayer will lead to truth, but that students must expect challenges along the way.

“There will be dead ends and detours,” Jenkins said. “There will also be new insights and a deeper sense of community.

In closing, Jenkins encouraged the audience to individually find time for quiet reflection and prayer, as well as to try to stay together as a community in search of a common grasp of truth.

University Provost Thomas Burish concluded the Mass with words of welcome. After greeting returning members of the community, his comments shifted focus to the freshman class. He recommended that they seek to become leaders on campus, encouraging involvement in campus activities.

Burish echoed Jenkins’s message of togetherness, as well as emphasized the importance of leadership on campus. He spoke of how Notre Dame is a place of conversation and differences, but together the community must seek the truth.

The annual opening day picnic immediately following the Mass saw a large turnout of students and faculty just as in years past. A variety of barbeque style food, including bratwursts and hamburgers, were served to picnic-goers on Hesburgh Library Quad.

Oblates of Blues, a jazz band comprised of Notre Dame theology professors, graduates and graduate students provided musical entertainment from the steps of the OIT building. In addition to music, the audience was entertained by balloon artists, stilt walkers and various other performers.