Mass of the Holy Spirit Sets Campus Aflame

by Laura McLaughlin


On September 8, Boston College continued the centuries-old Jesuit tradition of beginning the academic year with the Mass of the Holy Spirit. This tradition dates back to the Middle Ages, and has always been open to those of all faiths. For sophomores, juniors, and seniors who no longer have Freshmen Convocation to look forward to in the first week of school, the Mass of the Holy Spirit can serve as a yearly benchmark of their progress through Boston College and an opportunity to join together in community with their classmates. This unique opportunity to stop in O’Neil Plaza and experience Mass outdoors in the middle of a busy day is one tradition that forms the identity of Boston College.

President William Leahy, S.J., presided and Vice President Secretary Terrence Devino, S.J., gave the homily. Boston College’s Liturgy Arts Group sang and played an impressive variety of instruments throughout the mass.


Father Devino gave an inspiring homily about Boston College’s mission to form the hearts and minds of its students into men and women for others, who will go out and “set the world aflame” like Saint Ignatius of Loyola. He spoke about the Christian’s need for passion, symbolized by fire, if they are to find God and make an impact in the world. This particularly resonated with such a large crowd of young people who are beginning their journeys in life and in the process of finding an area of study, a cause, and or people to direct their passions towards.


Rather than do this alone, we have the strength and wisdom in the form of the Holy Spirit, who gives us God’s grace. The Holy Spirit is often depicted as fire, as It came to the Apostles on Pentecost as tongues of fire and gave them the courage to come out of hiding and begin the mission Jesus gave to them. Saint Ignatius was familiar with the need for courage and passion, as he was a soldier who wanted to display those virtues on the battlefield. Later he transferred his longing for glory as a war hero to a deeper desire to be a saint, a soldier for God.


Father Devino spoke about Boston College in particular, noting its inspiring and beloved architecture and strong sense of community, in a way that appealed to both unfamiliar freshmen and seniors who have walked through the campus too many times to count. He noted the importance of coming together to celebrate Mass as a diverse community with a shared passion for God. For seniors this was a bittersweet moment to reflect on their experiences in the community that many will soon be leaving, and appreciate all the opportunities it has given them during their time at BC.

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