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BC to Celebrate 150th

Sept. 15 Fenway Park Mass will usher in 18-month celebration

About 20,000 Boston College students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents are expected at the Sept. 15 Mass in Fenway Park that will launch the University's Sesquicentennial Celebration.

By Jack Dunn | Director of News & Public Affairs

Published: Sept. 6, 2012

Boston College will formally launch its Sesquicentennial Celebration with a historic Mass at Fenway Park on Sept. 15 that will include students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents among its 20,000 guests.

The Mass, which will be celebrated by University President William P. Leahy, SJ, with BC theologian Fr. Michael Himes as homilist, will include up to 100 Jesuits and alumni priests as concelebrants. Boston Archbishop Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM, Cap., will preside.

The Sesquicentennial Mass will serve this year as Boston College’s Mass of the Holy Spirit, traditionally celebrated at the beginning of the academic year at Jesuit schools. It will include an academic procession with faculty, trustees, trustee associates, senior administrators and deans from Boston College and Boston College High School (which shares the Sesquicentennial anniversary),  as well as alumni priests, members of the Jesuit communities of both schools, and local bishops.

BC students will play an active role in the Mass, providing music through the University Chorale and Liturgical Arts Group and offering the prayers of the faithful.  Some 200 Eucharistic ministers, including students, faculty and staff, will assist in distributing Communion. 

“Preparing for the Mass has been a herculean effort, and has involved hundreds of members of the BC community,” said Vice President and University Secretary Mary Lou DeLong, who chairs the 15-member Sesquicentennial Steering Committee. “While tickets are still available, I encourage anyone who has not yet registered to do so today by going to, as the seating is nearly at full capacity.  Those who have registered are reminded to bring their printed tickets to Fenway Park and to enter through Gates A, D and E, which will open at 3 p.m.”

Boston College has arranged for busses to transport students, faculty and Jesuits to and from Fenway Park, with student departures beginning at 2:30 p.m. from Lower Campus, College Road and Newton Campus.  Additional details will be available on the Sesquicentennial website.

Following the Mass, guests will be invited to walk along the perimeter of the field and view the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox World Series Championship trophies. A reception, with food and beverages available for purchase, will be held in the Fenway Concourse until sunset.  
In the event of inclement weather, a rain date for the Mass will be Sunday, Sept. 16, at 4 p.m.
The Fenway Mass will kick off three semesters of events that will include academic symposia, a Sesquicentennial Speakers Series, a Founders Day celebration, a student concert at Symphony Hall and a convocation of leading Catholic college presidents.

This fall semester will feature the first of seven scheduled academic symposia showcasing Boston College’s distinctive strengths and societal outreach, with an Oct. 5 symposium titled “Public Education and the Future of Democracy,” featuring Lynch School of Education Professors Marilyn Cochran-Smith and Dennis Shirley. 

The first of three scheduled Sesquicentennial Speakers Series will take place on Oct. 10 with Harvard University President and noted historian Drew Faust addressing the Boston College community on the theme of scholarship. The second symposium, “Religion and the Liberal Aims of Higher Education,” sponsored by Lynch School of Education Professor and Boisi Chair Henry Braun and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theology Erik Owens, will be held Nov. 8-9.   
In addition, the start of the Sesquicentennial will feature the unveiling of 13 historical markers and a GPS-guided "Tour of the Heights" app and mobile website that will provide on-campus and virtual tours of the Boston College campus [see separate story], and a volunteer service program in which each BC student and alumnus will be asked to perform 150 minutes of volunteer community service.  Two books — The Illustrated Boston College 1863-2013 and the new History of Boston College — and a documentary film on the history of Boston College are in production.

“The Sesquicentennial Celebration gives us an opportunity to celebrate Boston College’s first 150 years, to reflect on how Boston College has evolved over the decades, and to rededicate ourselves to the educational and religious vision that has animated BC since its founding in 1863,” said Fr. Leahy.

Information on upcoming events is available on the Sesquicentennial website,