Respect Life Rosary Profession gathering
Mark Brown / University of St. Thomas

The Significance of Special Prayer Services on Campus

In a time of uncertainty, the University of St. Thomas Campus Ministry provides comfort to students, faculty and staff through special prayer services, as well as for other occasions.

On Oct. 13, the St. Thomas community gathered in the Anderson Student Center atrium for a Prayer for Peace. Members of the St. Thomas community from a variety of faiths united in prayer for an end to the terrorist attacks in Israel and for the well-being of Israelis and Palestinians affected by the war.

“Our campus, although half a world away from the reality of this war, is not immune to the impact of this week's events,” Father Lawrence Blake, director of Campus Ministry, stated before the prayer led by Marta Pereira, associate director of Campus Ministry.

Mike Klein, director of the Justice and Peace Studies Program, thinks it’s important to take a moment in prayer across different traditions. “When we are in the moment of crisis, when we recognize human suffering, when our hearts are hurting in different ways, we need to try to find a way to come together. So, I think prayer is a beautiful first response.”

The Prayer for Peace included students and staff who recited Christian, Jewish and Islamic scripture and readings, including some words in Hebrew and Arabic.

“It's wonderful to start with prayer at a time when there is suffering, uncertainty and loss in multiple communities,” said Fuad Naeem, assistant professor of comparative theology and director of the Encountering Islam Initiative at the University of St. Thomas, who attended the event.

With October being Respect Life Month and the month of the rosary, Campus Ministry organized a rosary procession around campus to pray for the dignity of human life at all stages. Members of the St. Thomas community gathered at John P. Monahan Plaza and recited the rosary while walking toward the Peace Garden.

Respect Life Rosary Procession 2024
Students and staff gather for the Respect Life Rosary Procession on Oct. 12, 2023, in St. Paul, at the Peace Garden on north campus. The event was held in recognition of Respect Life Month.
Mark Brown / University of St. Thomas

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Campus Ministry held the Misa y Mesa Spanish Mass on Oct. 12 in the Florance Chapel on the lower level of the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.

“In Latin America, community is a big part of our faith. We have a saying that says, ‘De la Misa a la Mesa,’ which means from the Mass to the table,” Pereira explained. “That is why we have called this program Misa y Mesa, a program that gathers us to celebrate the Eucharist and then provides a space to build community and fellowship around the table with traditional Hispanic food afterward.”

The Misa y Mesa Mass celebrated the Eucharist and the legacy of the Catholic faith. The Mass was entirely in Spanish.

“Participating in Mass in Spanish is a profoundly enriching experience for me; it rekindles cherished childhood memories, and the soul-stirring alabanza (praise) songs I've known since my youth reinforce my faith and my identity as a Latina Catholic,” said Manuela Hill-Muñoz, director of social justice and changemaking. “It was a truly beautiful moment to come together in worship with individuals who share my cultural heritage, and to celebrate our shared bonds.“

Campus Ministry also holds a variety of special prayer services, in addition to daily Mass.

On Oct. 18, nearly 350 people from across the country and the world will participate in the inaugural Pray It Forward, a 15-minute online prayer gathering offered every month by the Office for Mission and Alumni Engagement. Pray it Forward is offered via Zoom registration.