Archbishop Thomas Wenski visited St. Augustine Catholic Church and Catholic Student Center to celebrate the traditional yearly mass of the Holy Spirit on Tuesday. Students, faculty and staff celebrated the start of the new school year as the archbishop, who oversees all Catholic practices in Miami, gave his blessings.
“Higher education isn’t only about how to make a living, but how to make a life,” the archbishop told the 95 attendees in his opening speech. “Here at St. Augustine, we hope that your faith life can be integrated with your student life.”
According to Rigoberto Vega, the campus ministry assistant, a mass at the start of the school year is a tradition that goes back to the first universities in old Europe.
“We have been planning this event since last May because it is hard to get on both the archbishop’s and the president’s schedule,” Vega said.
He hopes that this event will eventually become a UM tradition.
“If possible, the archbishop will be coming back at the start of every year to do this,” Vega said.
After a traditional mass ceremony, which filled the church with songs and prayers, guests migrated to an auditorium where dinner was served. The archbishop shook hands with everyone at the reception and posed for pictures.
Juniors Hong-Uyen Hua and Matthew Mancaw attend services at St. Augustine every weekend.
“The archbishop’s visit brought us here today,” Hua said. “Although there are always refreshments served after church, this dinner is something special for him.”
UM President Donna E. Shalala also attended the event and greeted students at the reception.
“About half of our students are Catholic,” she said. “And I do want you to know Sebastian the Ibis was here earlier.”
Sebastian posed for pictures with the archbishop outside of the church before the ceremony.
“Today was a big, positive step for the Catholic community at UM,” said Pastor Monsignor Michael Carruthers.