Opening Mass launches new academic year

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2010 Opening Mass

University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., urged the Notre Dame community to take time for reflection Tuesday as he ushered in a new academic year during his annual Opening Mass homily.

Father Jenkins recommended the life of Blessed Brother Andre Bessette, C.S.C., of Montreal to inspire that reflection, and the ND Forum discussion on “The Global Marketplace and the Common Good” as a point of focus.

Blessed Brother Andre will be canonized in October, the first member of the Congregation of Holy Cross to become a saint.

“In many ways, this life of a simple man is so different from our lives at Notre Dame,” Father Jenkins said. "Among his assignments, he stood watch at the door of the C.S.C. community house, making many friends as he prayed for and counseled those who were ill. Miraculous healings resulted; Blessed Brother Andre also is credited with building a shrine to St. Joseph that today remains a place of pilgrimage in Montreal.

“Engaged in our work, executing our plans, striving for our goals, we can forget to do what Andre always remembered to do: find time for prayerful, quiet reflection, and watch the door.”

The pressing human and moral questions that the global marketplace raises present an opportunity to reflect on our individual roles in the greater world, Father Jenkins said.

“The globalization of that market has brought prosperity to people who had simply struggled to survive. And it has disrupted the lives of millions as they’ve been forced from traditional occupations to try to find new work.

“What should our response be?” Father Jenkins asked. “What is the intelligent, compassionate and just response to which we are called?”

Pope Benedict frames the challenge in the encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), stating: “The risk of our time is that the de facto interdependence of people and nations is not matched by ethical interaction of consciences and minds that would give rise to truly human development.” The encyclical will serve as a guide for ND Forum discussions throughout the year.

Closing the Mass with his own remarks, Provost Tom Burish asked first-year students to “help the people here keep alive the tradition of the Notre Dame family. You’ll carry on a way of life that makes Notre Dame Notre Dame.”

And what does “the Notre Dame Family” mean? “The answer is simple,” Burish said. “It means that people connected to Notre Dame expect they will be treated by others as they would want to be treated by a family member, not by an acquaintance, not by a friend. It’s a place where people have a deeper sense of responsibility to one another.”