Academic year opens with ‘Red Mass’
Faculty, students and staff filled the seats at the Mystical Rose Oratory to pray for guidance and wisdom at the Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit that traditionally marks the beginning of the academic year.
Presiding over the Fall Spiritual Convocation, Fr. Chris Wittmann S.M. explained the significance of the Mass, also known as “Red Mass,” which is celebrated annually in the Catholic Church for all members of the legal profession, regardless of religious affiliation: judges, lawyers, law school professors, law students and government officials, marking the opening of the judicial year.
“At the beginning of an academic, legislation or judicial year, it is a longstanding tradition to call upon the Holy Spirit’s guidance, blessing and grace that will be needed for the year ahead,” Wittmann preached. “At a university like Chaminade, we are blessed with an abundance of resources and avenues to knowledge and skills, practical wisdom and application. But even at a university, we don’t have all the answers; and we never will.”
Such is the nature of a Marianist education, which cultivates students’ personal talents, nourishing the desire and acquiring the skills that will equip them to be learners all their lives. “Our faculty and staff already embrace and appreciate the values of providing a quality education, and an education for service, justice, peace, adaptation and change,” said Chaminade President Dr. Lynn Babington. “These are values that define my leadership, and they are consistent with the five pillars of the Marianist charism: faith, Mary, community, mission and inclusivity. We believe in an equal and just society, which is what we impart to our students.”
During the Convocation, Chaminade’s Vice President of Mission and Rector, Bro. Ed Brink, outlined the genesis of the Marianist Educational Associates program. “In 2005, members from Chaminade University, University of Dayton and St. Mary’s University of San Antonio responded to a call from the Association of Marianist Universities (AMU) Board to build a partnership among members of the Society of Mary, the sponsoring religious body of the three universities,” he said. “It would invite a cadre of lay collaborators, who would together sustain and renew the mission and identity that was Catholic, and that embodied the Marianist educational tradition.”
This past summer, seven Chaminade faculty and staff members participated in the MEA Formation, a seven-day program consisting of readings, reflections and sharing of insights. Asking them to stand in front of the congregation as he called out their names, Brink invited Drs. Darren Iwamoto, David Carter, Dustyn Ragasa, Frederique Kandel, Janet Davidson and Jennifer Creech, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success, to come forward. (Dr. Tom Buning was unable to attend.)
“These men and women are members of a community that is intentionally committed to strengthening and developing the Catholic and Marianist identity of this University,” Brink said. “I now ask you to make your commitment as a Marianist Educational Associate.”
Afterwards, Brink acknowledged the 21 Chaminade staff members and faculty who made their first commitment in previous years, asking them to stand and renew their commitment as Marianist Educational Associates.
In unison, the 21 MEAs pledged to strengthen, sustain and develop the Catholic and Marianist mission and identity of Chaminade University of Honolulu. They will continue to read, reflect, and collaborate with others to insure the continuation of the programs, processes and behaviors that make Chaminade a Catholic and Marianist University. And they promise to support others in growing in the knowledge and appreciation of the Catholic and Marianist traditions in order to embody and witness to these traditions and their benefit to the world.
“So to students and other members of the faculty and staff, please, if you have questions about our charism, about the Marianist educational tradition, these people have given some time and energy to studying that,” Brink concluded. “They have thought deeply about how to incorporate that into their work. We’re all, as Fr. Chris said, still learning.”