Nearly 50 students crammed into the Assisi Heights community center for an evening Mass earlier this month.
The Rev. Luke Robertson, TOR, celebrated daily Mass for students living in Assisi Heights Thursday, Oct. 3, at 9 p.m., after learning of a strong desire for more opportunities for prayer as a community among the residents.
Cathy Walker, third-year residence director of Assisi Heights, said that she began discussing the possibility of a community Mass with Robertson when he became a chaplain and spiritual director for the Heights at the beginning of this semester.
“When (Roberson) was on his way up here for his first meeting with me, he ran into some students and asked them what were some of the needs up here,” said Walker. “One of the responses was to have a hall Mass.”
Robertson told Walker that student response to the first Mass would determine whether or not they would offer more Masses in the Heights in the future. Walker began advertising for the Mass about a week prior, using the Assisi Heights Instagram page and email to get the word out.
“It was on a Thursday night, which we found out closer to that night that Thursday is a big night for households,” Walker said, sharing some of her concerns about possible attendance. That particular Thursday evening was also the night of a talk from a prominent speaker, said Walker.
Despite her initial concerns, Walker was pleased with the overall attendance for the Mass, which she thinks may have been the first community Mass to be celebrated in the Heights.
“We set up, I don’t know, maybe 25 chairs in the community center, and the room filled up pretty quick. We were adding chairs as we could, but we didn’t have enough set up,” said Walker. “Father Luke told me that he would like to do two Masses a month up here.”
Walker and Robertson discussed the possibility of alternating between Monday and Thursday nights so that students in households can work around commitments. Because of scheduling conflicts, they will not be able to offer more than one Mass per month, but Walker was hopeful when looking toward the spring. “Maybe for next semester we can alternate, but this semester, it will be Thursdays.”
At the end of Mass, Robertson noted that he would eventually like to establish a dedicated chapel in the Heights, a goal which Walker affirmed. “We were pleased with the numbers we got to show up for the first Mass, and we hope to keep those numbers coming, and that might make it more possible.”
Any talk of converting one of the Height buildings into a chapel is still in its early stages, but one of the primary logistical concerns is finding a Height that is both unoccupied and in a good location for students.
Walker believes the Mass was well–received among the students, saying that it was “the most community (she has) felt in the Heights,” but she would like to offer more opportunities for prayer and community to meet in the Heights.
“I do believe there is a need for more spiritual activities up here,” said Walker.
Many of her residents are involved in other activities outside of the Heights, but Walker believes there are still students who want more in their community. “It may not be a huge number, but there are people who are thirsting for it.”
The Residence Life team in Assisi Heights puts on multiple community programs each semester, but Walker said that if any student has an idea for another program, especially a spiritual one, she is happy to do what she can as residence director to help make it happen. Walker invites students to reach out to her with any thoughts or ideas.
The next community Mass in Assisi Heights will be celebrated Thursday, Nov. 8, at 9 p.m. in the Assisi Heights community center.