Jesuit Welcomes Special Guests for Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
December 8 was a day of high festivity at Carrollton and Banks.
The day marked the titular feast of Jesuit High School – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Originally known as the College of the Immaculate Conception in the days on Baronne and Common Streets, Jesuit celebrates the Marian feast by having students dress in coat-and-tie for the school day and offering Mass with the whole community in the morning. Jesuit was blessed to welcome a number of visitors for the celebration.
Jesuit president Fr. Christopher Fronk, S.J., welcomed two priest friends from the Navy chaplaincy – Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J., and Fr. Bill Cantrell. Bishop Barber was the main celebrant and homilist for the Mass. He was appointed as bishop of the Diocese of Oakland in 2013 after many years of serving as a Navy chaplain and teacher in the Society of Jesus.
Bishop Barber began his homily with a story about how Fr. Paul Shaughnessy, S.J. – fellow Navy chaplain and new Jesuit faculty member – had once saved him from being pick-pocketed while the two were in Italy. The story of theft illustrated the most easily verifiable doctrine of the Church, original sin. The bishop then when on to explain how the feast day celebrates the fact that Jesus and Mary were the only two human beings exempt from original sin and that students should desire the holiness which will lead them to life that lasts eternally.
Also visiting for the feast day were a group of first year novices, accompanied by Fr. Drew Kirschman, S.J., the socius to the novice master at Grand Coteau. Included in the group of novices was Jesuit alumnus John Guerra, n.S.J. ’14, who entered the novitiate in August. Another alumnus, Fr. Randy Gibbens, S.J. ’95, who is the vocations promoter for the province, was a concelebrant at Mass and during the day visited with students interested in talking about priestly vocations to the Society of Jesus. A third alumnus, Deacon Jody Fortunato ’98, assisted at Mass and proclaimed the Gospel.
At the end of Mass, Fr. Fronk told students that the presence of their visitors showed the joy of Jesuit life and asked students to remain open to the religious way of life. At lunch, Campus Ministry gave out rosaries, which were blessed by Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J., and Fr. John Brown, S.J.
The day of festivity did not end with Mass. Flurries of snow falling throughout the school day sent waves of excitement through the student body as they raced to the courtyard to experience the fun.