During the first week of the fall semester, the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit and Matriculation Ceremony is held to welcome and pray for the new class of first-year students. The fall 2021 ceremony took place Thursday, Aug. 26, in St. John’s Chapel.
Traditionally, faculty and anyone in the Newman community are invited to attend the welcoming ceremony. Due to COVID-19, this year’s in-person attendees consisted of freshmen students, invited faculty members as well as Matriculation Ceremony speakers. All other Newman community members were invited to watch the YouTube livestream of the event.
Mass of the Holy Spirit
Most Rev. Carl A. Kemme, Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita, administered the Catholic Mass and shared thoughtful words of advice to the new students during his homily.
“I urge you, my brothers and sisters, in the context of your personal lives here at the university, whether you’re administration, faculty, staff or student — to often call upon the power of the Holy Spirit,” Bishop Kemme said.
When studies are hard, when work brings challenges, when life seems a burden, a simple three-word prayer, “Come, Holy Spirit,” can make a world of difference, he said.
“When sickness takes hold of the body, or when sadness grips the heart, when friends seem far away — do, in those moments, call upon the Holy Spirit.”
Bishop Kemme looked to the students and reminded them that as individuals, “on our own, we can do nothing.” With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, however, mere human beings can go forth as missionary disciples and “make disciples of all the nations.”
“Realize that you are not alone. You never have been and you never will be.”
Following Bishop Kemme’s homily, the Eucharistic procession offered those of Catholic faith to come forward and receive the Blessed Sacrament. Those of different faiths and those unable to receive crossed their hands over their chest to receive a blessing from the Bishop.
Entering the academic community
Paul Carney, vice president of enrollment management, ceremonially presented the incoming class into the academic community following communion.
“Students, you will find that Newman is a university driven by purpose and defined by people,” Carney said. “I am honored to present the entering class of 2021-22. We are especially proud of this new class, who come to us after achieving high levels of academic distinction in their previous studies.”
He shared that the class includes students who have demonstrated excellence not only in academics, but also in leadership, community service and athletics.
“They come to us from 13 different states and eight foreign countries. They have selected Newman University as the place to fulfill their dreams. We welcome them to this special place,” Carney said.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Jill Fort, Ph.D., welcomed the students on behalf of the academic community. She then invited them to recite the Newman Code, pledging to live in the spirit of critical consciousness, respecting the dignity of all persons and striving to embrace all humanity.
On behalf of the new class, Florence Barles, a first-year student and seminarian at the St. Joseph House of Formation, shared a response from student representative Isaac Iseman.
Barles read Iseman’s statement: “My fellow students and I come to you from a variety of faith communities. We are urban, we are rural, we are local, regional, national and international. We come with enthusiasm, hope and anticipation. We come to learn.”
He added, “We are happy and grateful to be a part of the academic Newman community.”
Newman University President, Kathleen Jagger, Ph.D., MPH, gave the concluding remarks, thanked Bishop Kemme for offering the Mass of the Holy Spirit and for all those in attendance — both in-person and virtually — for taking part in the ceremony.
“Coming to college is sometimes like hitting the reset button on who you are and who you want to be,” Jagger said. “By your mere presence here in this moment, in the midst of a pandemic, you’re making a statement about persistence, grit, demonstrating that you have ambition to grow and use your God-given talents well.”
She described that excellence is a hallmark of Newman, as well as something that every student can and should strive to achieve during their time as a student.
“But perhaps most importantly,” Jagger said, “Put God at the center of your ambition. All things for His glory, not for your own.”
“Put your trust in His hands.”
View the full Mass of the Holy Spirit and Matriculation Ceremony below. To watch more Newman University videos, visit our YouTube channel.