Hundreds of graduates, their families and friends, and the Newman University staff and faculty gathered at 6 p.m. May 11 in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita, Kansas to celebrate the end of one life journey and the beginning of another.
The Newman University Baccalaureate Mass, which is a traditional Mass with a graduation celebration theme, is traditionally held the evening before graduation day.
The Most Rev. Carl A. Kemme, bishop of the Diocese of Wichita, presided over the Mass and Newman University Chaplain Father John Fogliasso preached the Gospel. Both were joined by concelebrants the Rev. Chad Arnold, the Rev. Michael Simone, Monsignor Scott Friend and the Rev. Taryn Whittington, who helped with the celebration of the Eucharist.
Graduating seniors who spent time in the Newman University campus ministry office, and who have helped with Mass in St. John's Chapel, were also given the opportunity to help during the Baccalaureate.
Before the Mass was concluded with a final blessing and closing hymn, graduates Ariana Esparza, communication major, and Patricia Lujan, elementary education major, each spoke about their time at Newman and how they have changed throughout the years spent on campus.
Esparza said during her reflection, "Being a Newman University communication major has taught me how to communicate what is most important to me — love. When I started to think of my studies as a vehicle to being able to love others, I finally found myself engaged in it all."
Lujan spoke about the staff and faculty that helped her through difficult times, and how, because of them, she was able to realize so many accomplishments.
"These instructors pushed me to my limits," explained Lujan. "They finally were able to accomplish what I never could. That is knowing who I truly was and discovering the gift that God had given me. The way Newman describes learning is exactly what happened to me. It describes learning as being a transformation that guided by Christ can be a positive one."
Watch Ariana Esparza's Reflection:
Watch Patricia Lujan's Reflection: