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Above: Fr. Provincial Myles Sheehan, SJ, celebrates Mass of the Holy Spirit at Nativity School of Worcester.

Middle photo: Mass procession at Jesuit High New Orleans.

Bottom photo: Archbishop Thomas Wenski blesses a new statue of St. Ignatius Loyola the Teacher at Belen Jesuit Prep.

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The purpose of the Mass “is to ask the Holy Spirit to be with all of us in the university community — all who learn here, all who teach here, all who work here — to be able to see the presence of God in the world." — Jesuit Father John LaRocca
Jesuits Celebrate New School Year with Mass of the Holy Spirit Tradition

September 27, 2013 — Many Jesuit middle schools, high schools and universities throughout the world begin each new school year by celebrating the Mass of the Holy Spirit. It is a tradition almost as old as the Society of Jesus itself, started in 1548 at the first Jesuit school in Messina, Sicily.

This fall students, families and friends attended Masses of the Holy Spirit at Jesuit schools around the country.

At Jesuit-sponsored Nativity School of Worcester in Massachusetts, Mass was celebrated by Jesuit Father Myles Sheehan, provincial of the New England Province. Part of the school’s tradition includes naming each incoming class after a Jesuit role model.  The incoming fifth graders of the Class of 2017 will be known as “Ikunza” after Jesuit Father Ignatius Ikunza Ayieko, who worked for social justice in Kenya.

Jesuits from East Africa, studying at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, attended the Mass, shared their reflections about Fr. Ikunza and gave each student a prayer card.

Mass procession at Jesuit High New Orleans.

The Mass of the Holy Spirit also serves as an invocation of the Holy Spirit to assist all members of the school in their pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. At Jesuit High School in New Orleans, President Jesuit Father Raymond Fitzgerald said he considers it to be one of the five most important days of the school year.

At Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami, Archbishop Thomas Wenski celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit, and afterward blessed and unveiled a new statue of St. Ignatius Loyola the Teacher located at the entrance of Belen Jesuit.


Archbishop Thomas Wenski blesses a new statue of St. Ignatius Loyola the Teacher at Belen Jesuit Prep"The Mass of the Holy Spirit is Belen Jesuit's tradition for kicking off the academic year and is core to the Jesuit, Ignatian values from which the school was established," said Jesuit Father Pedro Suarez, school president. "This annual Mass is held at the beginning of the year to welcome the grace of a greater being into our hearts and community as we journey through the experiences of the new academic year." 

At Creighton University in Omaha, the Mass of the Holy Spirit serves as a way to welcome new students. Jesuit Father Greg Carlson, associate director of Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality, described the Mass as “a confirmation of the Welcome Week Mass we celebrated with families just before they left.”

Jesuit Father John LaRocca, a professor of history at Xavier University in Cincinnati, explained that the purpose of the Mass “is to ask the Holy Spirit to be with all of us in the university community — all who learn here, all who teach here, all who work here — to be able to see the presence of God in the world."

Watch the video below for more of Fr. LaRocca’s insights on the relationship between the Mass of the Holy Spirit and the Jesuit mission.

[New England Province, Jesuit High New Orleans, Archdiocese of Miami, Creighton University]


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Situated on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River, Loyola Retreat House is located 35 miles south of Washington, D.C., in southern Maryland.