Community attends Sr. Mary’s first, Marywood’s 102nd annual Opening Liturgy and picnic



Photo credit/ Amanda Duncklee

Reverend Joseph P. Elston, Chaplain of Marywood, presides mass.

Amanda Duncklee and Brooke Williams

For the 102nd consecutive year, Marywood community members celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit, also known as the Opening Liturgy.

People gathered in the Sette Laverghetta Center for Performing Arts (PAC) for the 11 a.m. service.

Each year, the President of Marywood delivers a welcoming speech at the beginning of Mass. Sr. Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D., gave her first welcome.

“This moment connects you to the first students, faculty and sisters of Marywood,” said Sr. Mary during her welcoming speech.

According to Sr. Mary, faculty, staff and 30,000 alumni have participated in the same Opening Liturgy in the past 102 years, creating an “unbroken chain of the past, present and future.”

Much of Sr. Mary’s welcome encapsulated the theme of Bryce Courtenay’s novel “The Power of One,” in which a young South African boy overcomes the trials of early apartheid and Nazism.

“There is in every one of us–in every one of you–the strong power of one,” said Sr. Mary.  “Never forget the power within you, and the power we have together as the Marywood University community.”

After Sr. Mary’s welcoming speech, Mass commenced and Reverend Joseph P. Elston, Chaplain of Marywood, presided over the service.

In his Homily, he talked of how a Little League team from Endwell, NY recently won the Little League World Series against a South Korean team. He explained how the new Little League World Champions invited the South Korean team to run the bases with them in a show of sportsmanship.

“We can do our little bit. We can do our part,” said Elston, relating the story of selflessness to Marywood. “The Marywood Community is very involved in knowing there is more to life than just you.”

Elston also urged Mass attendees to “remember the blessedness we have enjoyed” as a community and to “notice, listen and love” as we make our way through the world.

After the Homily, Sr. Mary invited new members of the Class of 2020 to stand for a prayer. She spoke of how the students have come from different parts of the country and world and how their diversity is a positive asset.  

“Your years at Marywood will pass quickly,” Sr. Mary said to the first-year students.

She then encouraged students to take advantage of all the opportunities Marywood has to offer both in and out of the classroom and invited the rest of the Mass attendees to stand in prayer.

Also present on the altar was Student Government Association (SGA) President Maria Temples, who read the first reading. Temples, a senior nutrition and dietetics major, begins her term as SGA President this school year. In addition to Temples’ reading, members of the SGA Executive Board offered their service during the Mass.  

“I talked to Sister Cathy [Luxner, IHM, Director of the Swartz Center for Spiritual Life] because we wanted to get involved,” said Temples. “A lot of the Executive Board was able to bring up the gifts, some were greeters and then I did the first reading. We just wanted to be a part of it. We always like to help out and be very active on campus.”

After Mass ended attendees and other Marywood community members made their way to the Community Picnic.

Gabbie Bower, a senior criminal justice major, attended the Opening Liturgy freshman year because the field hockey team is required to, although she said she “would still go even if I wasn’t on a sports team.”

Overall, Bower enjoyed the Mass as well as the level of participation.

“I think it went very well this year. I saw a lot of the athletic teams there, which was very good,” said Bower. “They [Sr. Mary and Fr. Elston] got a lot of good things in there with their stories and there was a lot more participation from the students, so I thought that was very good.”

Picnic and Liturgy attendee Barbara McNally, executive assistant to the provost, said she thought the service “was a beautiful liturgy” and “very inspirational.”

“It was a nice turnout and the music was beautiful,” said McNally. “It’s always a great way to start the year.”  

Contact the writers: [email protected], [email protected]
Twitter: @ADuncklee_TWW

Reverend Joseph P. Elston, Chaplain of Marywood, presides mass.
Photo credit/ Amanda Duncklee
Reverend Joseph P. Elston, Chaplain of Marywood, presides mass.
Community members make their way to the Opening Liturgy.
Photo credit/ Amanda Duncklee
Community members make their way to the Opening Liturgy.