Traditions: Sunday Night Mass
Published: May 7, 2012
By Fred Puza
It’s Sunday night, just before 8 p.m.
All you can hear as you walk up the steps to Sacred Heart Chapel is the buzz — loud, almost like a roar — of conversations coming from the sanctuary. You see the opened doors, and they seem to whisper to you, “Come in, all are welcome here.” You look for a seat, but it’s tough to find an empty space in the pews because the chapel is full, again.
Once you sit down, you notice all of your friends are around you, as well as familiar faces from all over campus. The congregation is almost entirely made up of students. “There is a profound sense of unity in the midst of an incredibly diverse population of students,” says Tony Alonso, assistant director of liturgy and music.
Mass begins, and conversations end. Together, you sing, you pray, and you worship. “The liturgy comes alive,” says Ray Watts ’93. “All of the sights and sounds are amazing.” The priest gives the homily, which really hits home. “Challenging things were talked about,” remembers Kristi Gonsalves-McCabe ’93, ’98. “But at no other time in your life is the entire liturgy catered to your exact age range.”
After Mass ends, the conversations pick up again, and you share with friends your excitements and struggles while heading out, into the new week. And of course, you begin to look forward to next Sunday.
Sunday Night Mass in Sacred Heart Chapel started in the late 1970s. Prior to that, it was called “Big Mass” and was held in Huesman Chapel. From the preparation of the liturgy to the homily, the Mass is intended for the formation of students. Students from an array of campus groups are selected to participate in the service and exercise leadership in the liturgical roles of the Mass. “Sunday Night Mass is our praise to God who gives himself to us,” says Marc Reeves, S.J., campus minister. “It’s our response to God reaching out to us. I can’t help but be moved when I think of all of the generations of students who have prayed at Sacred Heart Chapel during Sunday Night Mass.”