By P. Erik Meyer ’14
About once a month students file from campus across the parking lot to St. Francis Xavier Church to celebrate Mass.
In usually just more than an hour the religious celebration has happened like clockwork and students head back to classes.
What goes into planning that event for 1,300 students and more than 100 faculty and staff?
According to Mr. Chris Calderon S.J., student and faculty involvement organized through the Office of Faith and Justice is necessary to pulling off monthly Mass.
“It’s a lot of odds and ends. It’s a lot of team work, no one person does everything,” Mr. Calderon said. “If it wasn’t for all the collaboration it’d probably be the same thing over and over and over again. Whether it be students or faculty helping out, or the various Jesuits, whether it be Brophy Jesuits or Jesuits we’ve invited, it allows something different amidst the tradition.”
Students in particular play behind the scenes roles.
“Students can get involved in a variety of ways and recognizing that some students are more willing to be vocal and seen and some not so much and some are familiar with and while others not so much, so I try to create opportunities that vary,” Mr. Calderon said. “Alter serving is a big help. Reading either a first reading, second reading or prayer. Students can also help with ushering or we have the Grad at Grad banners at the beginning.”
Michael O’Gara ’14 serves as an alter server during most Masses.
“As an alter server, I help the priest out, with whatever he’s doing,” O’Gara said. “Whether or not the other alter servers are new, I’ll instruct them about what they’re doing. Really just anything that helps the priest do his job more effectively.”
Mr. Calderon said that he wants to base Masses around the students.
“The reason why we start with those banners in particular in addition to being the grad at grad is that we start our liturgy with you guys,” Mr. Calderon said. “The priest will come in, the Jesuits come in, but we start with you guys. This office tries to create prayer for you guys that means something and is worth something and it isn’t just an hour break from class, but an hour to encounter God in a wonderful way.”
For Mr. Calderon, his goal is to create a different experience each month that keeps students interested.
“The most difficult is that, I recognize you all as 14-18 year old young men, and so trying to create a space in St. Francis where you guys want to participate or feel comfortable participating, that’s my goal,” Mr. Calderon said. “Sometimes it happens. Sometimes we get a great homily, sometimes the music is spot on but there are going to moments when you guys come into Mass after maybe pulling an all-nighter for a project or totally distracted for whatever reason I understand that.”
“That’s a difficulty, that’s a struggle,” he continued. “How do I hold onto your attention so it’s not just an obligation or not just going through the motions but really enjoying it because if prayer isn’t something you enjoy, then you don’t get as much out of it.”
For O’Gara Mass is more than just an opportunity to be seen by the student body.
“I think that it’s just participating more in the community and being involved,” O’Gara said. “A great aspect about Brophy is that it is a Catholic school and you can participate in religious activities and obviously Mass is one of those. I just enjoy participating in Mass and getting more out of it.”