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Mass of Holy Spirit, First Year Convocation on Sept. 12

Bill Strickland

By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: Sept. 5, 2013

Boston College’s traditional “opening ceremonies” for the academic year will take place on Thursday, Sept. 12, beginning at noon with the Mass of the Holy Spirit on the Plaza at O’Neill Library (rain location: Conte Forum), and the annual First Year Academic Convocation at 7 p.m. in Conte Forum. Both events are open to the University community.

The featured speaker at First Year Academic Convocation will be Manchester Bidwell Corporation President and CEO Bill Strickland, author (with Vince Rause) of Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary. Strickland’s job training center and community arts program have transformed the lives of thousands of people in his native Pittsburgh. The program has become a national model and is being replicated throughout the country. Strickland is the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant, the Goi Peace Award and other honors.

Over the summer, each member of the Class of 2017 was given a copy of Make the Impossible Possible and a reading guide that makes connections between Strickland’s passion and vision and the Jesuit ideals of vocational discernment and the magis.

Immediately prior to Strickland’s address, the freshman class will travel from Linden Lane to Conte Forum in the First Flight Procession, mirroring the same walk the students will take on their graduation day in May of 2017. The first-year students will be sent off on First Flight with a blessing and a call to take up the words of Jesuit founder Saint Ignatius of Loyola to “go set the world aflame.”

Earlier in the day, the Mass of the Holy Spirit will be celebrated by University President William P. Leahy, SJ. The Mass, a traditional opening of the school year at Jesuit institutions dating back to the Middle Ages, is open to members of the University community of all faiths. Noon classes are canceled.

Students, faculty and staff will participate as greeters, lectors and Eucharistic ministers. Members of the BC Jesuit community and other priests at BC will concelebrate the Mass. Associate Professor of Physics Cyril Opeil, SJ, will be the homilist. Music will be provided by the Liturgy Arts Group.

The Mass of the Holy Spirit is organized by the Office of Campus Ministry and First Year Academic Convocation is organized by the Office of First Year Experience, both of which are in the Division of University Mission and Ministry.