Opening Mass today offers opportunity to mourn loss, pledge to fight hatred

The Opening Mass and Gathering will be held at 11:30 a.m. today in the Quadrangle, providing opportunities to formally note the beginning of the academic year, to mourn the loss of lives in the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., and to pledge to fight hatred and intolerance.

As part of today’s activities, members of the St. Thomas community will be asked to make special peace flags to symbolize compassion for victims of the terrorist attacks and hope for an end to all acts of terrorism across the world.

Students, faculty, staff and guests will be invited after the Mass to write thoughts and prayers on small pieces of brightly colored material, which will be strung together and hung in outdoor settings throughout the St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses.

Members of the International Student Services staff and the Globally Minded Students Association will oversee the peace flags at tables throughout the Quadrangle immediately after the Mass. Material for the flags also will be available at other campus locations in the coming days.

The flags are modeled after Tibetan prayer flags, which are considered sacred and are meant to invoke wisdom, compassion and strength as they help people overcome obstacles, protect against dangers and negative influences, and promote peace and harmony.

Another special feature of today’s Mass will be to read a statement of reconciliation that acknowledges the problems of discrimination and prejudice in this community. The statement was drafted by a group of students, faculty and administrators over the summer after incidents of harassment and discrimination on campus last school year.

If it rains, the Mass will be moved into Schoenecker Arena (not the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas, as previously scheduled).

As St. Thomas entered its second day of helping people deal with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, members of the Personal Counseling, Health Services and Campus Ministry staffs reminded community members of the services provided by their offices. They encouraged people to drop in if they need assistance or just to talk about issues.

Attendance has been high at vigils and prayer services on both campuses. A capacity crowd filled the Chapel of St. Thomas Monday night for a vigil and there was a steady stream of visitors to the St. John Vianney chapel, which remained open all night. On Tuesday at the Minneapolis campus, a noon-hour Mass in the atrium of Terrence Murphy Hall also drew a large crowd, and a late-afternoon gathering was held in the atrium to provide an opportunity for people to reflect on the attacks.

Some events have been canceled as a result of the chaos in the nation’s airport system.

The third Annual Whalen Symposium in Media Ethics, scheduled for 7:15 p.m. today in OEC Auditorium, will not be held. Journalist William Greider, the featured speaker, is grounded in Washington. A decision has not been made whether to reschedule the symposium.

The St. Thomas volleyball team will not travel to Boston for a Friday and Saturday tournament at Brandeis University. All other St. Thomas teams will be in action as scheduled.

People are encouraged to contact the American Red Cross about giving blood because the nation’s blood supplies are expected to become depleted. Call (800) GIVELIFE for more information.



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