On a sunny Tuesday morning, hundreds of staff, faculty and students lined the sidewalks of the lower quad on St. Thomas' St. Paul campus as the class of 2023 participated in the annual March Through the Arches procession.
“When you pass through the arches at St. Thomas as new students, you become part of an academic community that Archbishop John Ireland began in 1885,” President Julie Sullivan told the crowd. “You become part of a rich learning tradition that spans more than a century. You become part of a learning community that will support and challenge you. A community that expects its members to embrace its values and traditions, a community that is rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition. We welcome you now into the St. Thomas community. It’s time to march!”
People clapped and warmly welcomed hundreds of new first-year, transfer and international students into the St. Thomas community. During the procession, many of the new students decked out in “Be Purple” and “I’m In” T-shirts stopped to take selfies with the Tommie mascot as they made their way through the arches and across the quad to the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex for a welcome assembly and interfaith blessing in Schoenecker Arena.
In the arena, student leaders, faculty and staff presented the university’s seven convictions (Pursuit of Truth, Academic Excellence, Faith and Reason, Dignity, Diversity, Personal Attention and Gratitude). Blessings from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith communities were given to begin the school year.
“We recognize that we are a diverse community that come from many different faith traditions, and we respect each other’s beliefs,” said Father Larry Snyder, vice president of Mission. “We begin this academic year by praying in the three traditions that all call Abraham their father in faith.”
As part of the welcome celebration, student a capella groups Cadenza and Summit Singers performed a handful of songs, including a beautiful rendition of the St. Thomas school song. A picnic on John P. Monahan Plaza capped off the festivities.
The Newsroom captured the sights and sounds of the event and talked to students, faculty and staff about what makes March Through the Arches such a special part of the new school year.
“It was amazing. It was the coolest thing in the world to see all the people clapping and cheering for us as we were walking into St. Thomas. I’m a Tommie now!” – Bren Vigil, a first-year student studying international business
“It’s celebrating an awesome beginning to a new academic year. It’s a tradition. It’s an entry into their life for the next four years.” – Lisa Waldner, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
“As an international student, I’m here for the new incoming students. Bringing in the flags brings a lot of pride to them and being integrated into the community. Seeing all the people here supporting them means a lot. It’s a family – nobody is going to let them down.” – Eric Eguida, a junior electrical engineering major from the West African country of Togo
“I encourage you to go out and meet students who are different than you, open your hearts and ears to diverse perspectives and never forget that love is a powerful thing and is the root of all positive change in our world.” – Logan Monahan, undergraduate student government president, addressing the class of 2023
“Today we welcome you into this community of scholars and seekers. These next years will bring new friendships, new adventures, new challenges and new discoveries. I know you will find this a nurturing and supportive community as you progress along that journey. This morning we welcome you into the St. Thomas Community.” – Father Larry Snyder, vice president of Mission, addressing the class of 2023
“Through these Arches pass class by hopeful class, we who share a vision strong and true. We ourselves transformed and our world reborn, by the things we think and say and do. Now we stand, side by side, in our hope and our pride, to declare our thanks anew. Hearts and voices raise, in a song of praise. Dear St. Thomas, blessings be to you. Alma mater, blessings be to you.” – St. Thomas school song sung by Cadenza and Summit Singers
“It’s bittersweet. I’m super grateful and excited.” – said Traci McPherson about how she was feeling right before watching her daughter, Darlene, march.
“Over the past year or so, you have all been contemplating and thinking about your future and how that will go and what it will look like. Simultaneously, here at St. Thomas, we’ve been doing precisely the same thing. After all of our contemplation and thought together, we have all jointly decided that you belong here and that we will all move forward together.” – Al Cotrone, vice president of Enrollment, addressing the class of 2023
“We recommend all our first-year students go to this – it’s the greatest thing. They don’t totally understand what it all means until they walk out of the arches in four years. It’s awesome watching them walk out of the arches after you’ve seen them walk in.” – Steve Griffin, director of Campus Stores and Campus Mail
“This is the first step in developing the leaders of the future … not just any leaders, but the type who create a virtuous cycle of achievement and giving back.” – Michael Garrison, senior associate dean at Opus College of Business
“Being from a small town, it’s nice that (my son) can come here to the city and get that city feel, but you’re still in our own community.” – Jackie Belde, mother of Jack Belde ’23
“March Through the Arches is a great tradition, and I’m proud to be a part of it. We are attached to symbolism in my country (France), and it’s great to see that here as well.” – Nicolas Lovichi, who will be teaching and tutoring in the French Program