Have you ever considered what campus life over a University holiday would be like, if you couldn’t return home for the break? Catholic University hosts many students over short breaks, who aren’t able to make it home or who choose to stay in Washington, D.C. Hear about one student’s time on campus over Easter break!
This year, I decided to stay on campus for Easter to be a part of the Campus Ministry and Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception communities during the celebration of the Triduum, and also to get ahead on my end of term assignments. I’m from St. Louis, MO, and flying home for the holiday, especially with finals so soon, seemed like more time would be spent traveling and working on assignments than could be spent with family.
Holy Week and Easter are an incredible time to be on campus! With the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic Church in North America, right next to campus, it is often considered to be part of the University. At the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, I am an altar server and I volunteered to serve the Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday Masses since I knew I would be on campus. Each day we had rehearsal for the masses and then the celebration of each day of Triduum. Each of those Triduum liturgies was presided over by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. The liturgies were accompanied by the Shrine’s full choir and broadcast live on EWTN. It was such an incredible experience to participate in.
Life on campus is vibrant, even with a large population away from campus. Father Jude, the chaplain at Catholic University, coordinates the efforts of Campus Ministry volunteers to prepare the campus chapels for Easter. CUA celebrates the Easter Triduum with Mass on Holy Thursday, Passion Service on Good Friday, and Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday during which several CUA students are welcomed as members in the Church through the sacraments. In order to be ready, volunteers gather for Morning Prayer, breakfast, and a cleaning of both Caldwell chapel and St. Vincent’s chapel, polishing the liturgical plate. On Thursday afternoon, the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist who organize the polishing of liturgical plate, make a YouTube video to document and share the work of all the volunteers.
The Easter break also allowed me to get a headstart on my semester projects. With how late Easter fell this year, there is only a week and a half of classes after Easter before final exams. This made staying on campus over the break less stressful than a quick trip home, and I feel all the more prepared to take on finals!