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New Catholic University president Peter Kilpatrick tells students ‘the Holy Spirit will provide answers’ at annual Votive Mass

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Students at The Catholic University of America pray during the Sept. 1, 2022, Mass of the Holy Spirit at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, opening the academic year for CUA. (CNS photo/Patrick G. Ryan, courtesy The Catholic University of America)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The annual Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Sept. 1 launched the new school year for students and faculty members at The Catholic University of America.

“We must be at the service of others,” Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, told the university community in his homily.

He also spoke on the importance of relying on the Holy Spirit and emphasized how people can adore and accept Jesus into their hearts through the Eucharist and each other.

“Sadly, so many in our world today pursue a worldly joy, overwhelmed by a prideful  concern of self, even to the expense of others. That can never be the case with us,” he said, encouraging the students and faculty members to pray for guidance and to have their faith guide their actions.

The bishop, the main celebrant of the Mass and a member of the university’s board of trustees, also urged them to pray that they would “grow in the virtue of humility” and to use their God-given gifts and talents.

A silver-gilt chalice from Ireland in the late 1400s was used at the Mass. The chalice, which is now on loan to Catholic University, is considered a rare artifact because many chalices from Catholic churches then were destroyed during the Protestant Reformation.

After Communion, Peter Kilpatrick, Catholic University’s new president, gave his first address to the university, telling students not to shy away from asking questions about personal growth, whether it be in the classroom or in prayer.

Peter Kilpatrick, the new president of The Catholic University of America, speaks during the Sept. 1, 2022, Mass of the Holy Spirit at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, opening the academic year for CUA. (CNS photo/Patrick G. Ryan, courtesy The Catholic University of America)

“If they are authentic and truthful answers that you seek, the kind that will really change your life, ask them in your classes, ask them in the dining commons and in moments of personal reflection, but most especially, ask them of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

He stressed how the world will claim to have answers to happiness and will distract from what he called “the hard questions.”

By contrast, he said, “the Holy Spirit will provide answers that are truthful and will fulfill you as a person.”

Lorenzo Lopez Olan, a freshman studying philosophy, said he’s looking forward to “the people and growth in faith” in the upcoming academic year.

Elizabeth Pakaluk, another freshman studying piano performance, said she is looking forward to the college experience and to getting to know the community, and growing in her faith and studies.

“I’ve met a lot of my professors already and really enjoy them. I’m really excited to learn more from them,” she said.

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Catherine Buckler is a staff writer for the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.