Yesterday was the inauguration of the college’s new president, Sister Mary Sarah. She’s been president since the summer, but we had a beautiful formal inauguration to coincide with the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas (whose feast is actually tomorrow). They let us off work at 12:30 (which was a great treat), so after lunch at Chick-fil-A with my friend Darcy, I headed over to my friend Liza’s house for a project – but more on that in a minute.
The Inauguration Mass was beautiful — the Sisters sang (all the best songs, like Pure and Lowly Virgin [Thaxted]) and there was all the right pomp and circumstance. Present and processing in academic dress were representatives from other colleges, our own faculty, our Board of Directors, and our Presidential Advisory Council. There were priests and deacons and four bishops — Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Coakley, Bishop Vasa, and Bishop Conley.
Our own bishop is in Rome for his ad limina visit, so Archbishop Chaput was the main celebrant and homilist, and then Father Brewer, our judicial vicar, received Sister’s oath of fidelity in place of Bishop Choby. I couldn’t help but think what the non-Catholics must have thought when Sister took her oath — to pledge obedience and submission to the Catholic Church and the Magisterium– some Catholics would probably be uncomfortable with that! But it was a beautiful moment. During the entire liturgy I was so thankful for being an employee of such a great school.
Archbishop Chaput had a wonderful homily- weaving together the readings of the Mass, the Feast of Thomas Aquinas, and Catholic education. It was a beautifully catechetical homily, and you could tell he knew his “audience.”
Afterwards we celebrated with a reception, and I was able to see a lot of people I haven’t seen for awhile. Beautiful liturgies should always be followed by great parties.
And every great party should include fascinators. Liza and I followed up our Christmas party fascinators with special-edition Inauguration fascinators.
Just like with the Christmas party, I was fine with feathers on my head- until people looked at me. Sitting next to Liza at Mass I was okay (I did wonder what Archbishop Chaput thought when I received Communion from him), but at the party when she wasn’t around, I had to hold my own in the fashion world. But I just held my head high and realized if I wore it with confidence, people would just wish they were as awesome as me. After awhile I forgot it was even there. It wasn’t like I was wearing this. Why can she pull that off? Or can she?
One last random story — there is a young man on the Presidential Advisory Council who has been here all week, along with the president of Campion College, to meet with some of us at Aquinas as we plan the school’s future. Daniel processed in with the rest of the PAC and immediately was the envy of everyone in the Cathedral — or at least those of us academics who also have a crazy sense of style. His academic hood had fur. Everyone else, even the men with their doctorates, looked like high schoolers next to him in his awesome hood. I asked his wife afterwards where I needed to go to get some fur, and she informed me that I needed to get my B.A. at “Sydney Uni.” (I love the way they talk…) Daniel came up just then and I told him that I was having hood envy, and he laughed and said he actually will lose the fur when he completes his doctorate and confessed he would miss it. It’s no wonder that when Daniel worked at Campion, he started a tradition of academic dress at Formal Hall once a week. I would find every opportunity to wear that hood. It’s also part of the B.A. hood at Cambridge, too. Looks like I need to go back and get another B.A…
It was a wonderful evening. The whole week has had little jewels of Catholic-academic-wonderfulness, between the meetings with Dr. Daintree and Daniel, the inauguration, and then the PAC meetings today, of which I got only a taste when I was invited to their luncheon. It was a room full of pretty amazing people, that’s for sure. I was once again reminded of how thankful I was to count myself part of an incredible place with an incredible future on the horizon!