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Thousands attend farewell mass for Malloy

Eileen Duffy | Monday, April 18, 2005

Screaming fans were traded for hushed worshippers, and the bright lights of the Joyce Center were dimmed as over 3,000 people gathered for University President Father Edward Malloy’s farewell mass Sunday at 9 p.m.”It means a lot to me to see you all here,” Malloy said after making the sign of the cross and welcoming the community. Then, he humbly shifted the focus away from himself, asking worshippers to remember the conclave of cardinals in Rome in their prayers.When he took the podium to give his homily, Malloy recognized the historic relevance of this presidential transition, which, he pointed out, has only happened twice in the last 53 years.He then compared the evening’s celebration to the mass on South Quad following the events of Sept. 11.”After [the events of Sept. 11], it became clear that [the University] would have some sort of large-scale prayer, because that’s what we do when we’re at our best,” he said. “Just like tonight, there were thousands of people. We invited people from the town, and many came. Students from the Muslim Student Association and students of other religious heritages were there.”But I don’t remember just one – I remember all the times when as priest-president I was able to lead the community in prayer,” he said.Later in the homily, Malloy discussed the seven sacraments and the impact a community of faith can have on the celebrants. Malloy said a couple getting married “draws upon the support of family and friends” when each says his or her vows. He then noted the strength this community of believers could provide during the time of presidential transition.In closing, Malloy asked students to “make manifest the solidarity” of the community in the Eucharist. After communion, student body president Dave Baron came forward to pay a tribute to Malloy on behalf of the students. In honoring Malloy, Baron drew upon three images of the outgoing president.First, he depicted Malloy as a gatekeeper, an image also presented in the mass’s gospel. From the mass at freshman orientation to each year’s opening mass in August to welcoming parents at Junior Parents Weekend, Baron said, Malloy provided a “welcoming environment for everybody.”Malloy also made Notre Dame a more inclusive place during his tenure, Baron said, pointing to the increased diversity of the student body.”[Malloy] honored the Catholic duty to embrace and recognize difference,” Baron said.The next image was more concrete: senior class president Darrell Scott carried a life-size cutout of a young Malloy dribbling a basketball, wearing his Notre Dame jersey, onto the altar. This image, Baron said, connects “young Eddie” with the current students. Baron also noted Malloy’s continuing relationship with the students, living among the men of Sorin Hall and teaching a freshman seminar every year.Baron’s third and final image was Malloy’s nickname, “Monk,” which, Baron said, indicates a person rooted in spirituality. Baron recognized Malloy’s impact on the world, the nation, the local community and on Notre Dame itself. He emphasized Malloy’s wish for Notre Dame to be a place where “there be no strangers.””We, the Notre Dame student body, would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to you,” Baron said as the thousands of worshippers jumped to their feet and erupted into applause.Malloy stood calmly in the center of the altar, a look of peace on his face.Four gifts were then presented to Malloy: a resolution passed by Student Senate detailing his greatest accomplishments, the cutout of the young Malloy, a quilt with a square from each dorm and a chalice.To close the mass, Malloy thanked his “family” from the congregation of the Holy Cross, Father Peter Rocca and the staff from the Basilica, Steve Warner and the gospel folk choir and all of those in attendance for coming.”This has been a blessed occasion,” he said, “one that I will cherish forever.”Reflecting on the mass, senior Emily Pernotto said the mutual deference struck her.”Not only is Malloy interested in doing this for the students,” she said, “but the students respect him enough to come.”A reception was held in the Joyce Center Monogram Room following the mass. Chicago cover band “Maggie Speaks” – one of the “top cover bands in Chicago,” said Jimmy Flaherty, member of the Student Committee for Presidential Transition, which organized the event – performed as students enjoyed refreshments and lined up to greet Malloy himself.”The party afterwards came as a surprise,” freshman Oscar Garcia said. “The band was good though, and the food was, too.”In between greeting and being photographed with students, Malloy offered some quick thoughts on the mass, noting the good turnout, the beautiful music and the “unexpected, but very appreciated prizes.””I loved it,” Malloy said as he turned to embrace another student.