Freshmen Orientation Mass


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale/VillanovanPhotography

Families gathered together to celebrate Mass for Orientation.

Sofia Krzewicki, Staff Writer

August 20 marked the first day of New Student Orientation at Villanova University. Eighteen hundred incoming freshmen and their families gathered at the Rowen Campus Green in the hot, sweltering, mid-August heat to take part in a special Mass led by University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A, Ph.D.

From the moment prospective students visit campus or inquire about Villanova, they are met with the Augustinian values that are foundational to Villanova: Unitas, Veritas and Caritas. The Mass focused on the founding values of Villanova. 

Current students played an integral role in the Mass proceedings, as they do in all Masses on campus. Orientation counselors served as cross-bearers and lectors, walking ahead of the resident Augustinians who trailed behind, while the Pastoral Musicians — student vocalists and instrumentalists — serenaded the congregation.

Overwhelmingly moving and emotional, the Orientation Mass held for new students and their families was, at its core, a community-building event. 

To begin, “in [the] true Augustinian fashion,” as Father Peter stated, new students and families were invited to introduce themselves to those sitting in front, behind and to the sides of them, a display of friendship of which St. Augustine would have been proud.  

This gesture is a fundamental part of the Masses held on campus. At the Solemnity of St. Augustine Mass on Aug. 28, the first in-church Mass of the academic year, the congregation was invited to do the same. 

The student involvement and participation at the Orientation Mass was inspiring, as it was a display of the University and values in real-time. 

Father Peter highlighted a lyric in the song, “Homeward Bound,” performed by the Pastoral Musicians: “Set me free to find my calling / And I’ll return to you somehow.” At an event that marks a transition into a new environment, such a lyric offered hope and eased anxieties for students and parents alike. 

The lyric “symbolizes how loved ones are letting their students go on to blossom into who they are meant to become as a Villanovan,” Katie Tuberosa, a Pastoral Musicians member and First Year Experience Coordinator, said. “When this is sung at Baccalaureate, it represents the growth of each student over these four years and while their time as a Villanova student may be over, they will always have this community as a support system as they continue on their path.” 

Villanova, as emphasized in Father Peter’s homily, is a place where students will find their calling or at least be on the path to do so. And, although Villanovans may integrate themselves into a new community, a new home, students should never forget the communities they are a part of back home. 

At the Mass’ conclusion, Father Peter encouraged the congregation to participate in a time-honored University tradition: parents and family members were invited to reach out and place a hand on their incoming Villanova student, offering a prayer. 

The moments to reflect and to be one with the community after a hectic move-in and action-packed first day of New Student Orientation were much appreciated by all those who attended.