SCRANTON – Nearly one thousand students, faculty and staff from The University of Scranton gathered in prayer on Sept. 8, 2022, as a new academic year got underway. The Byron Recreation Complex served as the setting for the college’s annual Mass of the Holy Spirit.

“There really is no better way to start off our academic year than by celebrating the Eucharist and inviting everyone to come together as a community at a university whose mission is Catholic and Jesuit to the core,” the Rev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J., President of The University of Scranton, said.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton, served as the principal celebrant and the Rev. James F. Duffy, S.J., M.D., the new superior for the Scranton Jesuit Community delivered the homily.

Father Duffy encouraged students to “let the spirit work” in their lives and to see the relationship between a greater intimacy with God and a greater reverence for their neighbor.

“The gifts that we’ve been given are for the benefit, not only of ourselves, but also that of our neighbor,” Rev. Duffy explained.

The Mass of the Holy Spirit is a tradition among Jesuit academic institutions dating back to the 16th century, in which the community gathers to thank God for the gifts of creation and salvation and to seek the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit in the coming school year.

Fall semester classes began at The University of Scranton on Aug. 29. The incoming Class of 2026 is the most diverse in the history of the school with 285 members identifying as a student of color, representing nearly 27 percent of the incoming class. More than 30 percent of the incoming class identify as first generation college students.

As she enters her senior year, Kathleen Wallace of Maryland, says her time in Scranton has helped her learn more about her faith.

“To me, my Scranton journey faith-wise, has involved expanding my view of who God is and what God means to me and how much God really loves each one of us,” she said.

Wallace served as lector at the Mass of the Holy Spirit. She has been involved in campus ministry and many other service projects.

“Service is really what matters at the end of the day,” Wallace added. “What matters is making other people feel known and loved and cared for.”

Matthew Simms, a senior environmental science and philosophy major from Bucks County, says his experiences at The University of Scranton have opened his eyes in many ways.

“One of the most rewarding things that I’ve done here at the university is around Thanksgiving-time and Easter-time, when we go out to the Friends of the Poor and pack up different meals and bring them out to the low-income housing projects on the North Side. It is just a really rewarding experience,” he said.

With only two semesters until he graduates, Simms is thankful for getting to know more about his faith while serving as an altar server, Eucharistic minister and sacristan on campus.

“I’m a different man than when I came in four years ago,” he added.

As he closed the Mass of the Holy Spirit, Bishop Bambera welcomed all of the students to Scranton.

“We’re very, very happy to have you here in Scranton,” he said. “Enjoy your time here in Scranton. Use this time well and wisely.”

The bishop also quoted Pope Francis in encouraging them to get involved and make the most of the time they are given.

“Don’t be observers of life, get involved,” the Bishop said, referring to the words of the Holy Father. “Never be afraid to dream great things.”