Campus Life

Catholic Students Find Comfort at Mass

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Daphne Alpar sat in rapt attention on the cushioned pew, listening to the comforting, familiar liturgy of Mass. The sounds of trumpet, piano, violin, and viola swirled with elegant vocals and resonated through the tall ceiling of Perkins Chapel.

A QR code to an audio recording of the music during Mass.

Scan to hear what Alpar was listening to. Audio credit: Jillian Taylor

Alpar, a junior at SMU, joined approximately 15 SMU students, faculty, and staff at Perkins Chapel for Mass on Sunday, Feb. 7th at 5 p.m.. This was one of eight Mass options that the SMU Catholic Center Ministry provides every week, each with new safety precautions. SMU Catholic has held Mass in-person every Sunday for over 85 years because Mass is an essential sacrament for members of the Catholic Church. Yet when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the SMU Catholic Center Ministry had to move Mass online for the first time. It remained this way until August, when SMU Catholic resumed in-person Mass.

“It felt like something was just taken away from me and I couldn’t get it back,” Alpar said.

Rev. Wade Bass, the chaplain of SMU Catholic Campus Ministry, describes Mass as the source and summit of the Catholic faith.

“These are the lungs by which we breathe our spiritual lives,” Bass said. “Everything flows from it and goes back to it.”

Bass is a catholic priest from Highland Park who began his chaplaincy at SMU in July 2020. Bass explained that it was hard to start at a new church community under pandemic restrictions.

“It’s hard to get to know students, it’s hard for students to get to know each other,” Bass said. “I’m tired like everyone else is.”

One of his first tasks as the Catholic chaplain was to find safe ways for Mass to be in-person. Under Bass’ leadership, SMU Catholic resumed in-person Mass in August 2020 with new COVID restrictions: limited seating in alternating rows, online sign-ups, mandatory masks, receiving communion in the hand rather than on the tongue, and more. Students like SMU sophomore Anna Musich were able to sit on those cushioned pews in Perkins Chapel once more.

“It was just nice to be in a church, to be in a setting where it just feels very safe and welcoming,” Musich said.

Bass said that Catholic life at SMU will only get better as people get vaccinated, adding that all of the COVID-19 complications have revealed a beautiful silver lining.

“Human beings are able to navigate even crises with creativity and grace if we just calm down and work together,” Bass said.

Alpar sat in the twilight outside Perkins Chapel, smiling as she reflected on her spiritual life now that Mass is in-person again.

“You know how it feels when it’s gone,” Daphne said. “Now that I’ve had that taken away, I don’t want it to get taken away ever again.”

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