During the holiday season at the University of St. Thomas, Campus Ministry provides the opportunity for students to celebrate their faith traditions.
Campus Ministry celebrates Advent by hosting several events, including Christmas Cards for Prisoners, the Peer Ministry Advent Calendar, Tommie Catholic, and Pancakes with Jesus that highlight the celebration of Advent and Christmas. In addition, Campus Ministry offers Advent season reflections written by students, faculty, staff and alumni of the St. Thomas community to more than 1,500 subscribers.
Campus Ministry also recognizes holiday traditions important to Latino students. On Dec. 12, Campus Ministry celebrated the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“If you saw students processing and singing on the quad or were surprised by the mariachi music suddenly starting in the atrium of ASC as students entered the building carrying a frame of Our Lady of Guadalupe, you can tell this day was a special day for our Hispanic students,” Marta Pereira, associate director of the Campus Ministry, explained.
The Catholic Church celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to Juan Diego, native of Tepeyac, Mexico, in 1531. Her presence and significance are celebrated not only in Mexico, but in all Latin American countries as she is the patroness of the whole continent.
“The significance of the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe comes from past generations,” Ana del Rivero ’25 commented. “In Mexico, we commemorate her every Dec. 12 in the Catholic Church. We celebrate the day that Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared to Juan Diego. I celebrated by going to Mass and bringing white roses to Mary. Thanks to Campus Ministry, this tradition keeps happening every year and gathers more students to come and celebrate with us. I am so grateful to be part of the organization for my second year!”
“On this day, countries join in their love of Our Lady, who offers her protection and company amid the daily struggles and sufferings of the people,” Pereira added. “This love is expressed on her feast day in the festive celebrations throughout our country as well with vivid liturgies, mariachi serenades and festive gatherings.”
The celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe consisted of a Spanish Mass presided by Vice President for Mission Father Christopher Collins, SJ. It was followed by a procession toward Anderson Student Center with students carrying flowers and singing. Students also prepared a short play of the story of Our Lady’s apparition to Juan Diego. The celebration concluded with a reception in Scooter’s to honor Our Lady, enjoying Mexican food and fellowship.
“I am so grateful that the idea we had in our heart six years ago has grown so much,” Pereira reflected. “We have the sponsor of so many today, particularly the involvement of the students who not only participate but dedicate their generous time in preparing for the liturgy and the celebration with such enthusiasm.”
Campus Ministry worked with the Diversity Activities Board, the Catholic Studies Latino Scholars, other caFE y Amigos volunteers, and the Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Achievement (HOLA!) sponsorship to make the feast day memorable for Latino students.
“Student collaboration made Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast even more beautiful,” said Emilia Zúniga ’26, Catholic Studies Latino Scholar and Campus Ministry student worker. “Latino Scholars played an important role in making the event possible. They were involved in different ways, from acting in the play to welcoming people and helping with the food. All of that helped create a memorable feast. Our Lady’s feast helped us not only contribute to our community by uniting for a common purpose, but also share the beauty of our faith. This feast day meant something to me because Our Lady of Guadalupe is also the Mother of the Americas. So as someone who is from Honduras, seeing students and staff from all different ethnicities gathering to celebrate under her name, was a unifying moment for all of us.”
Along with the celebration of Our Lady on Dec. 4 in ASC, Campus Ministry observed Las Posadas, a traditional Latin American celebration of accompanying Mary and Joseph as they look for an inn.
Campus Ministry highlights other traditions and holiday celebrations for students of different religions. Campus Ministry, Minnesota Hillel and Chabad Macalester-Groveland hosted the first annual Hannukah party on Dec. 12 at Dorsey Commons. The event included a menorah lighting and traditional Hannukah games and food.
Campus Ministry partnered with Office of International Students and Scholars, Residence Life and the Diversity Activities Board to offer World of Celebrations, an event to showcase holidays from around the world celebrated by members of the St. Thomas community. Both domestic and international students presented the holidays important to them and shared what makes those celebrations special. The event took place on Dec. 7 at Dorsey Commons.
“I am grateful for the support Campus Ministry and other departments provide to offer students the opportunity to celebrate their faith traditions during this important time of the year as part of the holidays at St. Thomas,” Pereira concluded. “It is great to have the community come together to support students with meaningful opportunities and value their own traditions while enriching our community members who participate in these celebrations.”