College of the Holy Cross Begins Spring Semester With Multifaith Community Prayer

Tradition returns for the first time since 2019 following three-year pandemic pause.

With fresh snow blanketing the ground outside, members of the Holy Cross community gathered in Mary Chapel on Tuesday, Jan. 24, for the return of a cherished annual tradition, Multifaith Community Prayer, following a three-year pause due to the pandemic. The event, held on the first day of spring semester classes, is a celebration of the rich faith traditions represented on campus and a time to engage in peaceful reflection as a community.

This year's ninth annual event, hosted by the Office of the College Chaplains and featuring remarks from Holy Cross President Vincent D. Rougeau, centered on the climate crisis and cherishing the Earth. Rougeau encouraged attendees to turn to "faith for guidance" in tackling daunting environmental challenges and cited messages from several faith traditions emphasizing the moral obligation to be caretakers of the planet and each other.

"The complex problem of climate change is not solved in isolation, but rather in community," said Rougeau, who offered students ideas for deepening even further their commitments to sustainability, not only on campus but also in Worcester and beyond.

During the service, Marybeth Kearns-Barrett '84, director of the Chaplains' Office, invited student leaders to come forward and light a candle in honor of each of the faith traditions present in the College community. Also in attendance were leaders from local faith communities who shared readings and song from Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism — followed by a brief moment of reflection and the sound of a Tibetan singing bowl.

Guests enjoyed a thoughtfully curated musical program, coordinated by Laurence Rosania, director of liturgy and music, and the College Chapel Choir, featuring student soloists and ensembles.

To conclude the prayer, Kearns-Barrett asked students to circulate and light attendees' unlit candles in a gesture of "sharing of light." As the small flames progressed softly down the rows, the group sang "For the Earth Forever Turning" by Kim Oler, ending with the verse: "In our joy, we sing returning home to our blue green hills of Earth."