The 2019 Mass of the Holy Spirit was expected to be a special celebration. Of course, it’s a significant milestone for the start of Jesuit schools worldwide, invoking the blessings of the Holy Spirit upon the school community.
For Saint Ignatius High School, this year’s Mass also had extra significance. It would be the first such liturgy for The Welsh Academy; it would involve the commissioning of more than 40 new faculty and staff; and it would be presided over by Fr. Dan Schlegel ’79, Diocesan Secretary and Vicar for Clergy and Religious. These alone made this Eucharist unique.
Then the Bishop showed up.
Due to a change in schedule, Bishop Nelson Perez found himself available at the last minute on Friday, August 30, and was eager to be the primary celebrant for this year’s Mass, held at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. Together with Fr. Schlegel and the Jesuit community of Saint Ignatius, Perez led the centuries-old liturgical tradition.
Fr. Schlegel gave the homily and offered a powerful testament to the importance of melody and harmony in our lives and our communities. He paused at various points to allow iterations of Pachelbel’s Canon in D to waft through the vaulted ceilings of the cathedral.
“Harmony is never an exact duplicate of the melody,” he said. “In fact, if they were the same they wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful. Each has its own character and beauty, but they complement, encourage and make the melody more beautiful.”
“Our relationships as Christian people, as a member of God’s family, is a lot like making good music. Sometimes we hear it said that a good friend is harmonious. Two or more people joined together—their different talents and gifts and abilities—they are many, while at the same time they are one. And often times people join one another to make a difference in our world, to make a more cordial environment to become a sign and a symbol not reflecting the world, but helping to form it.”
These words were embodied through the men and women being commissioned as new employees of Saint Ignatius—from yearlong volunteers, to teachers, staff and The Welsh Academy team. They also found form in the sixth graders, accompanied by their “Ignatius brothers,” who will serve as friends and mentors this year.
The work of the 1,500 students, and hundreds of faculty and staff, is indeed important. But, as Fr. Schlegel emphasized, it occurs at its best when everyone acknowledges and allows God work through them.
“Like that day of Pentecost that we hear about in the First Reading today, I know that if you allow it, that the Holy Spirit of God will breathe through you,” Fr. Schlegel said. “And each person, each language now given will help to empower the world.”
He concluded the day’s message with the great Ignatian call to action: “Go forth and set the world on fire.”