A reflection on the events of Holy Week at the Newman Club — The Skidmore News

Hannah Charity is a member of the editorial board of the Newman Club.

The Newman Club on campus, led by Editorial Board members President Emily Theisen ’22, Vice Presidents Sophia Grant ’22 and Hannah Charity ’22, Treasurer Mac Elizalde ’23, and Senior Advisor Emily Davis’ 23, organized a plethora of events and outings in conjunction with Parker Diggory, the director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (ORSL) during Holy Week, the week when Catholics commemorate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, his crucifixion on Good Friday, and his resurrection on Easter. During the season of Lent, Catholics fast, pray and repent in preparation for Easter when Christ is resurrected. Members of the Newman Club shared their thoughts – their experience of being Catholic on campus and the close-knit sense of community – during this sacred week.

Holy Week events began with the Palm Cross Making event on Friday April 10, which took place on the 2nd floor of the Case Center. The students stopped from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to make their palm crosses. Diggory and Theisen were at the table welcoming the students and teaching them how to make crosses. The palms, which are distributed on Palm Sunday, represent the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem a few days before his crucifixion and the glory of Jesus.

As for Bible studies, throughout Lent there were Bible studies every Thursday led by Elizabeth Druke ’22, a member of the Newman Club and Christian Fellowship. “I liked leading the Bible study because it was a good opportunity to get together with other Christians during Lent. The theme was centered on altruism. It was good to reflect and talk with other students about what selflessness means and how we can be more selfless in our daily lives,” Druke explained. The Newman Club also held Bible studies at Wilson Chapel, and the focus was on the Beatitudes, found in the Gospel of Matthew, which are eight blessings Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount. Bible studies consist of a new student leading every two weeks (rotating between e-board members), and members come to read the Bible and participate in the discussion. Meetings are small and intimate, and members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.

On Maundy Thursday, April 14, Newman Club members attended downtown Mass at St. Peter’s Church, the main church that Newman Club members attend every Sunday. The mass was special because it celebrates the Last Supper where Jesus ate with his twelve disciples and washed their feet. During Mass, the foot-washing ceremony is performed, and the act represents humility and a willingness to serve others. “During Holy Thursday Mass, it was really moving to see family members and even strangers washing their feet in imitation of Christ,” Druke said.

The following day, Good Friday, April 15, members of the Newman Club attended the Stations of the Cross event, which took place from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Students, staff, families and local clergy walked around campus to various train stations. The Way of the Cross is made up of fourteen stations, which commemorate the Passion of Christ, from his condemnation to his burial. Together they strolled around campus: the event started outside Wilson Chapel and members walked past Tisch, Case Green, the Library, the Tang, Filene, Falstaff’s and ended at the Chapel . Grant led the march, but people took turns reading at stations and carrying the cross. “It was really cool directing it. I feel a lot more engaged and connected to the practices when I’m involved in some way, so directing it made it a lot more meaningful,” Grant said.

Grant and Theisen also shared their thoughts on the experience of being Catholic in Skidmore, especially with opening up their faith during the walk. “It was different walking across campus with the cross. I didn’t want people to think we were evangelizing; it’s of course fine if that’s what others feel called to do, but that’s not what I vibrate to, so I was aware of how we made the people around us feel, and to my turn I felt nervous myself,” Grant said.

Grant calls for more discussions around faith on campus: “I wish there was more discussion on campus about religious practices and events that are going on, less about people who want to come because they will find us anyway, but more to promote community and understanding of each other’s different practices and beliefs, whether religious or non-religious/practicing or non-practicing. Nonetheless, the event was emotional for people present and brought a sense of community and spiritual reflection.

“It’s a powerful experience to pray the stations outdoors and experience the physical nature of walking and carrying a cross,” Theisen said. “It’s especially powerful to do this on our college campus, as it both bears witness to others and reminds us that our spiritual lives and our ‘secular’ lives as college students are not separate from each other, instead, our faith guides us as we walk around our campus and into the world.

On the evening of Good Friday, members attended the Liturgy of Our Lord’s Passion at St. Peter’s.

“[It’s] a beautiful liturgy recalling the Passion of Christ and offering the faithful the opportunity to venerate the Cross,” said Theisen. Members visited St. Peters every Sunday and developed a warm relationship with the parish. “Going downtown for masses and liturgies is always enjoyable as it gives us the chance to be part of a larger Catholic community and interact with parishioners, clergy and other members of the Skidmore community. off campus,” Theisen explained.

On Saturday, April 16, members attended the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Peters. Finally, on April 17 at Easter, members attended Easter Mass and the Easter brunch that followed. They came together to celebrate and meet new friends.

“For me, Holy Week is a time of new life and hope,” said member Quinn Stoddard-O’Neill ’23. “It was great to see the Easter mass and lunch filled with so many familiar and unfamiliar faces, all of which give me hope during this time of uncertainty that together we can overcome anything.” E-board members assembled colorful Easter baskets filled with Easter eggs, candy, bookmarks and inspirational cards about friendship and God and gave them to club members.

Holy Week is a time of reflection and celebration, and Newman Club members were grateful to spend time with each other and with God. “I loved the events on campus and especially being part of our Catholic community on campus to participate in one of the most celebrated celebrations of the liturgical year!” shared Kaitlyn Mavais ’22, member. “I hope that in the future Skidmore students and faculty will be encouraged to engage with each other and recognize the Easter traditions that are most meaningful to them and to learn from those who are special for each other.”