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Saint Mary’s offers variety of liturgies

Justin Tardiff | Thursday, October 6, 2005

While classmates hurried by in the corridor and a nearby television blared MTV, seven Saint Mary’s students gathered in the relative quiet of Our Lady of Wisdom Chapel in McCandless Hall Monday night to celebrate weekday Mass.

The Mass is one of two weekday Masses offered by Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry and offers an intimate setting in which students can pray and receive the Eucharist. Campus Ministry is also responsible for the 9 p.m. Sunday Mass in Regina Chapel and for Reconciliation, which takes place Mondays at 8 p.m. in Regina Chapel.

The location of Monday’s 9 p.m. Mass rotates every other week between Our Lady of Wisdom Chapel in McCandless Hall and The Sacred Heart Chapel in Holy Cross Hall. The second available weekday Mass, also at 9 p.m., is held in Holy Spirit Chapel in Le Mans Hall.

“The [weekday] Mass in McCandless averages 8 to 15 [attendees],” said Campus Ministry director Judy Fean. “The [weekday Mass] at Holy Cross has had larger groups. I think it is the size of the space.”

The attendance at the Wednesday Mass in the Le Mans Hall chapel is sometimes as large as 30 to 50 students, Fean said.

As a student employee for campus ministry first year Katie Chmelko regularly attends weekday masses at Saint Mary’s. She is responsible if preparing the holy water and for assigning lecturing duties.

“[Weekday Masses] are more personal,” Chmelko said. “It is more of a family atmosphere. It is kind of like the apostles.”

Location can play in an important factor in whether students will attend mass, Chmelko said. Saint Mary’s does not offer dorm Masses exclusively to residents of each hall as Notre Dame does, but if students know there is going to be a Mass in their building, Chmelko said, it makes it easier for them to attend.

“It kind of offers a more convenient time if you want to take a break [from studying],” Chmelko said.

There was a time when Campus Ministry offered Mass every single day in a different residence hall, Fean said. Complications contracting priests to say Mass, coupled with low attendance, prompted Campus Ministry to pare down the mass schedule.

However, on the days when Campus Ministry does not have Mass, students have the option of celebrating the Eucharist with the Sisters of the Holy Cross at the Church of Our Lady of Loretto. Many Saint Mary’s students also choose to attend mass at Notre Dame, either in dorms or at the Basilica.

First year Ashley Recupito also works for Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry and frequently attends weekday Masses on campus.

“I think it offers a smaller setting,” Recupito said. “Most people get to know one another at Mass, especially at Saint Mary’s because the faces become familiar.”

She also likes to attend mass at Notre Dame, however.

“It is nice to go over there,” Recupito said. “It is a different change of pace. You get to get off campus and see the opposite sex.”

Fean said she was hesitant to say Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry has to “compete” with Notre Dame dorms for Mass attendees. She and her colleagues are aware that many students like to cross the street to meet with friends and attend Mass, she said.

“I think there are real reasons for people to seek out different places,” Fean said.

“Would I like to see 800 or 900 girls at mass at Saint Mary’s?” Fean asked.

Of course she would, she said. But the most important thing is providing at community atmosphere where students can gather as a congregation.

“I just hope for a place where people are able to gather together and pray,” Fean said. “I hope Saint Mary’s and the type of prayer and the daily masses provide that time for prayer.”