Fall 2021 Welcome Back Mass

“The food trucks are ready for you on Mendel Field,” announced University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D. at the end of the Welcome Back Mass. “Thanks be to God!”

This past Sunday, Aug. 29, Villanova students were thrilled to carry their portable chairs over to the Rowen Campus Green for Campus Ministry’s Welcome Back Mass. No matter which religious affiliation one had, all were invited to participate in the campus liturgy. 

Hundreds of students attended to celebrate their return to campus as they begin the 2021-22 academic year at the University, their home away from home. Many students also participated in the liturgy and served as Liturgical Ministers, Pastoral Musicians and Lectors.

In his Homily, Father Peter celebrated the feast of St. Monica and St. Augustine, two beloved saints of the Villanova community, as many students have read St. Augustine’s “The Confessions” in their Augustine and Culture Seminar Program (ACS). 

Father Peter also analyzed Matthew 22:39, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” by comparing it to the University’s Community First: The CARITAS Commitment. In the past 18 months, millions of people around the world have endured immense hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, Villanova students stepped up by adhering to the CARITAS Commitment in which they practiced social distancing, wore masks and washed their hands frequently to protect one another from the spread of the terrible virus. Although masks and social distancing are no longer required for those who are vaccinated, Father Peter encouraged students to love each other as themselves by continuing to practice good hygiene, stay home if sick and more. 

“Faith means nothing if you do not act,” Father Peter said. 

In order to truly follow Matthew 22:39, Villanova students should continue to act on behalf of their fellow peers by adhering to the CARITAS Commitment.

During the Mass, students enjoyed sitting outside in the warm summer weather. Junior Bernadette Goratowski was thrilled to share the experience with her friends. 

“The weather was so nice, and it was such a wonderful way to start the year,” she said.

Junior Derek Lattmann was grateful to be back in his home away from home. 

“The Welcome Back Mass was just as I’d hoped,” Lattmann said. “While it was sad because it marked the end of another great summer, it definitely offered a taste of the excitement yet to come in this semester. With the setting sun behind us and the warm greetings of friends that I haven’t seen for months, it was the perfect way for Villanova to say ‘welcome home.’”

The Mass was also very bittersweet for seniors like Caroline Levine, the Student Body President. 

“As a senior, the Welcome Back Mass reminded me of how much of the Villanova experience is about finding community and belonging through each other,” Levine said. “Although we found great ways to gather together with the Community First events over the past year, there’s nothing like ending the week together.”

The Welcome Back Mass was a great success per students’ remarks, and they hope to have another outdoor mass soon before winter weather arrives.