Campus prepares to celebrate a COVID-19 Christmas


Photo credit/ Jennifer Flynn

Marywood prepares to celebrate a modified, but jolly Christmas this year.

Eric Spivak, Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted day to day life in various ways and the holiday season is no different. Despite the pandemic, Marywood will host a variety of Christmas-themed activities this year in accordance with COVID-19 safety procedures.

To prepare for the holiday festivities Director of Conference and Event Services John Coval met with a committee to decide how to safely host activities this year. Coval said his goal was to include on-campus students, remote learners and commuters in his preparations so that all students could participate in the holiday events.

One of the university’s oldest traditions, the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, will still go on this year. The ceremony, typically held inside the Liberal Arts Center, will be held outdoors on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. at the Marywood Memorial Arch.

This year, the ceremony is limited to Marywood students and staff only. Safety precautions, such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing, will also be observed. The Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be available on the Marywood website after it is conducted for those who are unable to attend the event in person.

According to the Assistant Director for Service-Learning and Community Service Ann O’Brien Campus Ministry has also developed programs to help bring the Christmas spirit to those throughout the Marywood community.

One of these programs is the Giving Tree where students can give gifts to senior citizens, children, veterans and the homeless. Gifts for this program will be accepted at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony or can be brought to the Swartz Center for Spiritual Life by Dec. 4.

Additionally, Campus Ministry has created a card writing program where students can write a card to someone in the community. The cards will be distributed to children, senior residence workers, veterans, deployed military members and local hospital staff. Interested students can email [email protected] to request cards. Completed cards should be brought to the Swartz Center for Spiritual Life by Monday, Nov. 30.

O’Brien said Campus Ministry hopes these programs will help inspire the holiday spirit throughout the Marywood community.

“We hope that people still feel the spirit, even though things are different than in the past,” said O’Brien. “I am so proud we have made it this far. We are doing alright.”

According to O’Brien there are options for any remote students wanting to spread holiday cheer in other communities. O’Brien said some ways remote students can accomplish this is by sending their own Christmas cards, dropping off toys as donations and doing random acts of kindness.

Marywood alumni are also participating in Christmas activities. The Office of Alumni Engagement is hosting a Santa book reading for the children of alumni on Sunday, Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. in the Upper Visual Arts Center Parking Lot. Alumni can also participate in a virtual basket raffle to benefit Marywood’s Lackawanna Chapter Scholarship.

According to Coval Marywood’s mission to promote holiday cheer this year has inspired other members of the community to do the same

“We also now have employees who are seeing what we are doing and including their own families,” said Coval. “We have two employees who came forth whose children are in Catholic schools who saw the card writing campaign and asked if they can participate as a school, so we have two Catholic elementary school’s who are participating in the [card campaign] through Marywood.”

O’Brien said the sense of community is her favorite aspect of the holiday season at Marywood.

“It just helps us to feel like a campus family,” said O’ Brien.

O’Brien also said the Christmas spirit can bring out love towards one another. According to O’Brien everyone celebrates Christmas in their own way, and if how you celebrate spreads peace and unity then that is the Christmas spirit.

“Doing things together as [a] community, as family, are things that make the world a better place and make us look within each other and around us,” said O’Brien.

Coval agreed with O’Brien about the importance of the holiday season.

“Marywood is very founded in our service to the community, service to individuals, and at this time in our country, in our society, that’s more important than ever,” said Coval. “The holiday spirit is one of hope, rejoicing, looking forward to a new year”.

Below are all the upcoming holiday events conducted through Marywood.

Tuesday, November 17:

Start of virtual ticket give away for “Joy Through The Grove” – A Christmas Light Experience at Knoebels. Tickets will be valid from Nov. 28 to Dec. 5. Micheal Kalage, director of student engagement will email students with more information.

Wednesday, November 18:

Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Memorial Arch at 4 p.m..

The main Christmas display at the Arch and other seasonal displays for the 2nd Annual Light Up Campus event will be available to see for the local community after 4:30 p.m..

Wednesday, December 2:

91.7 VMFM will transition into Christmas 91.7 and will broadcast commercial free Christmas music until New Year’s Eve. Christmas 91.7 can also be streamed for free online or through the Tune-In app for those who do not live within the station’s local broadcast range.

Thursday, December 3:

Virtual Christmas Trivia at 7 p.m.. Prizes will include $200 for first place, $150 for second place, and $100 for third place.

Tuesday, December 8:

Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception will be live streamed at noon and will be made available on the Marywood website afterwards.

The Advent Prayer Service will be available on the Campus Ministry’s website.

(Alumni Only Event) Virtual Cooking Class about Baked Manicotti will be held at 6 p.m..

Wednesday, December 9:

Evening of Prayer will be video streamed at 6:30 p.m..

Thursday, December 10:

(Alumni Only Event) Christmas/Winter Virtual Trivia Night at 7 p.m.

Friday, December 11:

(Alumni Only Event) Drive-In-Movie Night, featuring The Polar Express at 7 p.m.

Monday, December 14:

(Alumni Only Event) Alumni Christmas Tree Gathering at 4:30 p.m.

Sunday, December 20:

(Alumni Only Event) Santa Reading in the Upper Visual Arts Center parking lot at 6 p.m.

Alumni participants should register before attending events at the Alumni Engagement Office. More details can be found for all alumni events at Capacities for each event are limited.

Contact the writer: [email protected]