Blessed Basil Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, believed that the true goal of education is not only to prepare useful citizens for society, but to likewise prepare them to become citizens of heaven. All of our Holy Cross educational institutions take this belief to heart and it is easy to see it put into action at all of our schools. Providing opportunities for our students to come to know God, to share his love with all people, and working to make His Kingdom a reality are things that are second nature to us.
Here at Stonehill College, the first week of classes was full of such examples. On Freshman Move-in Day, the highlight was the Welcome Mass. All of the freshman, their parents, the hall staff and members of the Holy Cross community gathered for the Eucharist at the close of the day. In his homily, Vice President for Mission, Fr. Jim Lies, C.S.C., urged the freshman to make the most of the opportunities available here to become all they can be, both academically and as people.
At the end of the Mass he led a moving blessing of Families and Students that acknowledged that though the parents who were the first teachers of their children, now it was up to the students to seek God’s blessing to make the fullest use of the opportunities available with their new Stonehill family. After Mass, their parents departed from campus and the freshman headed to a picnic, ready to begin their new adventure.
On Monday, every single member of the freshman class was involved in a service project in the local community, called “Into the Streets”. Projects ranged from working at the local food bank, to working with inner city kids’ educational and sports programs. Before they went out, Fr. John Denning, C.S.C., president of Stonehill College, gathered with them for a prayer and blessing. Each group was accompanied by a faculty member, staff member, or upperclassman, who at the end of the day led a group reflection on the experience.
The next day, I was privileged to be able to preach at the opening school Mass of the Holy Spirit. In my homily, I related the powerful seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Right Judgment, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord, to the lives of the students. I urged them to use these gifts to learn all they could, to grow in God’s love so that they may work to make God’s Kingdom of justice, peace and mercy realities here at Stonehill, and indeed throughout the world.
Already this school year, the local Holy Cross community has sponsored prayer services for 9/11, for peace in Syria, and has led blessings for many of our sports teams.
We have also gone into the dorms to speak on all kinds of topics, meeting the students one on one in all manner of situations amidst the joys and difficulties of their lives. In these ways we seek to fulfill our goal of helping them to make their way along God’s path toward the Kingdom of God.
Fr. Tony Szakaly, C.S.C. is the local superior of the Holy Cross community at Stonehill College, and previously served as an assistant provincial for the United States Province of Priests and Brothers. A South Bend native, he received a Holy Cross education at every level of his schooling, from the C.S.C. sisters in grade school, the C.S.C. brothers in high school and C.S.C. priests at the University of Notre Dame. He took final vows in 1991 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1992.