Thursday, September 13, 2007

MUHS 150th Anniversary Mass

While it has been nearly two months since the occasion, I have to say that "better late than never" applies in this case.

On July 21, 2007, Marquette University High School in Milwaukee celebrated its 150th anniversary with a full day of events, including a "Great Homecoming" on the school's campus and a buffet dinner with entertainment (including fireworks!) at Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin on Lake Michigan.

The centerpiece of the celebration was a festive Mass at the Al McGuire Center on the campus of Marquette University (which evolved from the same series of educational institutions as MUHS did). Over 50 priests concelebrated, many of them Marquette High alumni and others former and current faculty members. Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan was present and Father Warren Sazama, S.J. (known as "Saz" to generations of students), the president of MUHS, was the principal celebrant and homilist. A chalice purported to have belonged to Father Jacques Marquette, who explored the upper Mississippi and was among the first Europeans to set foot on the land that is now the city of Milwaukee, was used during the ceremony.

From my vantage point on the bleachers to the left of the dais that supported the altar, ambo, and clergy, I was able to videotape a good portion of the Mass. After some minor editing, I was able to post the video (in seven segments) to YouTube a few days ago (where it has already had some viewers) and now here today.

In this first segment, a choir composed of current students and alumni rehearses a few songs and checks out the sound system before the start of the Mass. The singers and musicians were directed by Mrs. Susan Sajdak.

In the second segment, the chair of Marquette High's board of directors, Janine Geske, offers some words of welcome. Geske is a former justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and now teaches at Marquette University Law School.

The third segment is the procession, with a gathering song by James J. Chepponis, "Go Up to the Altar of God."

The fourth segment consists of the Liturgy of the Word (except for the homily). This includes a reading from Genesis 18, a responsorial psalm by Jeffrey Roscoe ("Thank God for He Is Good") based on Psalm 118, a reading from the first chapter of the letter to the Colossians, the familiar "Celtic Alleluia" by Fintan O'Carroll and Christopher Walker as the gospel acclamation, and a gospel reading from chapter 10 of Luke.

In his homily, Father Sazama spoke briefly about the beginnings of Marquette High School but focused more on the school's mission and the successes it has seen in alumni who have served the larger community in various roles. He said, in part:

We’re celebrating 150 years of Jesuit secondary education here in Milwaukee. It’s been a wonderful 150 years! We have so much to be grateful for and to celebrate. With humble beginnings back in 1857 with 2 Jesuits from St. Louis – Fr. Stanislaus Lalumiere, SJ and a Jesuit scholastic (seminarian) Mr. Cornelius O’Brien – starting St. Aloysius Academy on 3rd and Michigan – a rag tag operation in a leaky former rectory with only 50 students, which continued to grow over time to the outstanding Catholic, Jesuit – still urban – college prep school it is today.

I’m proud to say that MUHS has stayed consistently true to its Jesuit, Catholic Mission over these 150 years and is committed to do so for the next 150 years! We can humbly and gratefully say that God has worked through Marquette High to educate people in the service of Christ's Mission here on earth.

What is Marquette High's Mission? Succinctly put, it is to form Christ-like leaders for the world: people of conscience and integrity, people of faith, people passionately in love with Jesus Christ and on fire with the Holy Spirit, people committed to developing their God-given talents to serve others and make the world a better place, people who work for peace and justice in our world and make the world a more humane, Christ-like place where people share the goods of the earth as God’s sons and daughters as God intended, people who are loving, religious, open to growth, seeking excellence for the Greater Honor and Glory of God (AMDG), and committed to justice, in the words of our former Jesuit Superior General, Fr. Pedro Arrupe, Christ-like Persons for Others.
After relating the day's celebration to the story of Martha and Mary in the gospel reading, and mentioning a few distinguished alumni, Saz concluded:
We are a much more diverse school now than ever before with our student body including a wide-ranging socio-economic diversity as well as a much richer ethnic and racial mix with 21% of our students being racial minorities. Our retreat programs are stronger now than ever with the introduction of the eye-opening sophomore retreat in the early '70s, the powerful Kairos Retreat in 1989 that over 90% of our seniors elect to take, and the wonderful freshman retreat that the seniors give to the freshman being introduced in 1992. Our service programs have expanded from the Senior Shared Life Project on which our seniors do service work in the community for two weeks in the spring which started in 1973, to our Junior Christian Discipleship classes tutoring at St. Rose Catholic Urban Academy and forming wonderful bonds with the students there, and the overseas service trips such as Somos Amigos trips to the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Mexico, and the new trips to Africa starting soon as well.

So we have an awful lot to celebrate and be grateful for! We have a great history, tradition, and Mission. God is with us, and may God continue to bless us by using us as His instrument here on earth in service of Christ's Mission. May we all – students, alumni, parents, teachers, administrators, support staff – live this Mission to be Christ-like Persons for Others working to make the world a better place for all of God's children. Let us stay faithful to our Mission for the Greater Honor and Glory of God (AMDG)!

The fifth segment is the offertory procession, featuring an arrangement of "For the Beauty of the Earth" sung by the choir. (Note a rather shaky close-up of Father Marquette's chalice.)

Skipping over the Eucharistic Prayer, the sixth segment shows the distribution of communion and features "Envia Tu Espiritu" by Bob Hurd; "O Taste and See," by Marty Haugen; and a post-communion meditation song commissioned especially for the Mass, "Prayer for Generosity," by Gwyneth Walker.

The final segment consists of the recessional and song of sending forth, "Sing, O Sing," by one of the original St. Louis Jesuits (and MUHS alumnus, Class of 1966), Dan Schutte.

Celebrations like this, sadly, take place only once every several decades. Their spirit, however, lives on day by day.

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