Marywood kicks off school year with Opening Liturgy


Sr. Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D gave a speech touching on topics like empathy, kindness and love at Marywood University’s 104th Opening Liturgy. Photo credit: Briana Ryan

Sydney Toy, Community Editor

Marywood University kicked off another school year on Sept. 4 with the annual Opening Liturgy. Students, faculty, staff and sports teams filled in the rows of the Sette LaVerghetta Center for Performing Arts to worship as a community and welcome in the new school year together.

Themes of this year’s liturgy included empathy, kindness and love. While this was a ceremony meant for worship and prayer, it was also one of spreading goodwill and faith, regardless of religious background.

Junior Religious Studies Major Brien McChesney felt the ceremony left those in attendance with positive energy.

“It was filled with joyous hearts, eager minds and a sort of energy only Marywood can provide when heading into what seems destined to be a great year,” said McChesney.

Sr. Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D began Mass with a welcome speech in which she posed some unusual questions to the group. She asked if they ever did something wrong or if they’ve ever been bullied. She then flipped the question asking if they’ve ever bullied anyone.

Persico talked of a South African tribe that, instead of berating a person for making mistakes, places people in the middle of the village and praises them. She used this story to segue into the importance of empathy, being kind to others and loving one another. She urged Marywood students to do the same.

“When you feel like bullying someone [or] when you feel bullied by someone…put yourself in the position of that person sitting in the middle of the city square or in the position of the person who is building up the individual,” said Persico. “If we do that for this academic year, we will improve our community one hundred-fold and we will make a difference in the world in which we live.”

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Francis Zahuar gave the first reading from the book of Ezekiel and Reverend Joseph Elston gave the homily. Rev. Elston urged everyone to “think and act differently and to look at the world through the eyes of the spirit in you.”

He emphasized that a person’s own spirit guides and drives them. He also used the story Persico told to highlight the importance of acting within the realm of the spirit and being kind to one another.

Both speakers at the liturgy reflected the core values that Marywood stands for and emphasized their importance in the way students, faculty and staff should abide by.

As the liturgy concluded with the singing of the Marywood Anthem, attendees filtered out to attend the picnic at the Michael and Gwen Calabro Delfino ’47 Amphitheatre.

Senior Education major Sam Haack said of the ceremony, “There were so many people there to worship and to welcome a new year. As I was leaving, and while I was there, I just felt a sense of community. It was absolutely great. It adds to the excitement I have for my senior year.”

Contact the writer: [email protected]