Regardless of the configuration of the seating, the energy of the students is what makes the experience unique. “One of the most profound moments for me is just before Mass starts and the lights are brought down, the prayerful quietness of the young people,” Schultz says. “Then the sign of peace is a boisterous free-for-all where no one is left out. These two opposing energies create something wonderful the profound silences and exuberant expressions of joy.”
Mario Prietto, S.J., director of Campus Ministry and frequent 10 p.m. celebrant, says he is also impressed with the student congregation. “It is such a privilege to stand up there and lead these young, energetic, talented people who are there because they want to be there and not out of obligation,” he says.
Students don’t hold back in the Mass. Without feeling uncomfortable, I have belted out songs, hugged people I barely know, and cried. “The sign of peace is great because people just walk from one end to the other of the church, hugging everyone they pass probably taking 10 or 15 minutes,” says senior Brooke Crawford.
Senior James Good now adds, “These Masses are more interesting because they’re geared toward my life. In a normal Mass the age ranges from 5 to 95, and it’s harder to relate to everyone.”
In fact, it is not unusual for the homily to include references to procrastinating on a philosophy paper, getting through finals, roommate problems, or searching for a job. “You take into account the group you’re preaching to, and go through their door,” Prietto says.