BC Opens Sesquicentennial At Fenway Park
Published: Sunday, September 16, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
The Sesquicentennial Celebration officially began this past Saturday with a Mass at Fenway Park. Attracting nearly 20,000 guests—including student, faculty, staff, alumni, and their families—the historic Mass was concelebrated by 100 members of the Boston College Jesuit community and alumni priests. University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. celebrated the Mass, and Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. presided.
As the guests were still scrambling to find their seats, a spectacular rainbow of colors graced the infield at the ballpark, a delight for all in attendance to behold. The colors, sported by BC faculty, deans, and vice presidents in academic regalia, denoted their terminal degrees, the granting institution, and their field of study. The wearing of the robes is a tradition stretching back to the Middle Ages and was a symbolic way to recognize the scholarly attainments of those who wore them. Faculty and senior administrators of Boston College High School led the procession into the park, making way for the BC personnel. Trustees and trustee associates of the two schools followed.
Beginning the Mass right on schedule, Leahy welcomed all in attendance and said, “I look out and it occurs to me that Red Sox Nation has become Jesuit land,” kicking off a theme that O’Malley would pick up on later.
Connecting each segment of the Mass together seamlessly, the University Chorale of BC, the Liturgy Arts Group, the Liturgical Choir of BC High, and the School of Theology and Ministry Liturgical Choir led the assembly in song.
Kathleen McGillycuddy, chair of the Board of Trustees, read the first reading, a passage from Isaiah, and the President of BC High, William Kemeza, read the second reading.
Rev. Michael J. Himes, professor of theology, gave the homily Saturday evening, reflecting on a reading from the Gospel of Mark. Himes said that the reading provoked a question, and subsequently a principle. The question, “Who do you say that I am?” allowed Himes to discuss the interconnectedness of humanity and divinity. “Humanity and divinity are never separated, but they are never in competition with one another,” Himes said. “We see the fullness of humanity revealing the fullness of divinity.”
The principle that followed was “If you really want to be like God, be as human as you can possibly be. Whatever humanizes, divinizes.”
Expanding this principle further to encompass what it means to receive a Jesuit Catholic education, Himes said, “If education means humanization, then education is central to the Church’s mission. All education makes us more like God.”
“At the end of the passage [from Mark], Jesus says if you hold onto your life and try to preserve it, you will lose it,” Himes said. “But if you give it away it becomes everlasting.”
Himes encouraged graduates and the 4,000 BC students who attended to use their education to enrich others. “The reason to be educated is to teach someone else,” he said. “You never fully realize the fruits of your education until you pass it on to someone else. To be able to give away everything is what all of us are in training to do, and in doing to, we become a little more human, and a little more holy.”
In conclusion, Himes said, “What unites us with God is our humanity, and the way to be more human is to help others to be more human.”
The Prayer of the Faithful was jointly read by UGBC President Chris Osnato, A&S ’13, Daniel Dougherty, president of the student body at BC High, and Tatiana Cortes, A&S ’14.
In his comments at the end of the Mass, O’Malley cited the University’s role in Boston’s Irish history. He praised BC for its role in the “Catholic emancipation,” a reference to the strong anti-Catholic sentiment faced by early Irish immigrants to Boston, such as BC’s founder, Rev. John McElroy, S.J.
“In the days of Father McElroy, it wasn’t easy to be a Catholic or immigrant in Boston, and it isn’t easy today,” O’Malley said. “We still need the giants of Catholic education to help form new disciples in the church.
“The involvement of BC with the renewal of our Catholic schools has made a huge difference,” he continued. “BC has been a very important part in the history of our local church and we are all delighted to be a part of this magnificent celebration in Fenway Park.”
The Mass also celebrated the start of Boston College High School’s academic year. About 1,000 BC High students were in attendance.
Breezy and mild late-summer weather provided a perfect backdrop for the ceremony at Fenway Park, which is celebrating its own centennial this year.
The baseball-centric setting did not go unnoticed by O’Malley, who joked to Himes that he “hit it out of the park” and that “the Boston Red Sox should get you, they need you.”