Laetare Sunday to Feature Afternoon Mass, Reception
By Reid Oslin
Laetare Sunday, the mid-Lenten celebration that has been a hallmark of alumni spiritual activities at Boston College for the past 53 years, will have a new format this year.
On Sunday, March 21, alumni and their families will join University President William P. Leahy, SJ, for a special 2 p.m. Mass at St. Ignatius Church, followed by a family-style reception in the Heights Room of the Lower Campus Dining Hall.
In past years, the Laetare event had included a morning Mass followed by a sit-down breakfast in McElroy Commons.
Alumni Association Executive Director Grace Cotter Regan '82 said the new format will offer an enriched spiritual event as well as a social activity reaching to both the traditional anniversary class alumni and more recent graduates and their families
"The focus of Laetare Sunday will be the Mass," Regan said.
A change became necessary when St. Ignatius Church revised its Sunday Mass schedule, said Regan, leaving the Alumni Association without a time slot to adequately set up the event. "We also had to consider the adverse impact on the students of closing Carney Dining Room in McElroy Commons for a day," she said.
"We also had experienced diminishing attendance at Laetare Sunday in recent years. That prompted the Alumni Association to look at the demographics of attendees and how we could modify the event to meet the needs of Laetare alumni, engage the younger classes, and still preserve the Laetare tradition," she said.
Regan said Alumni Association administrators and board members looked at the similar University Memorial Mass model introduced last November. "We had close to 600 people in attendance for a Mass and reception. We felt this format provided a broadened outreach to our ever changing alumni body."
Regan said the new Laetare arrangement was overwhelmingly approved by the Alumni Association Board, Alumni Executive Committee, and the board's Spirituality Committee.
Established in 1951, Boston College's Laetare Sunday event is the longest-running religious observance at any Catholic college in the nation. "We certainly want to preserve the tradition of Laetare Sunday at Boston College," Regan said. "It's important to us as a Jesuit, Catholic university."
In addition to Fr. Leahy, the Laetare Sunday Mass will be concelebrated by members of the University's Jesuit community and alumni priests from the anniversary classes. Boston College undergraduates will provide the liturgical music for the Mass and lectors will be selected from the Silver Anniversary Class of 1979, hosts for the event.
Alumni and members of the Boston College community wishing to attend the University-sponsored Laetare Sunday Mass and reception are asked to contact the Alumni Association at ext. 2-4700 or via the BCAA website, www.bc.edu/alumni.