Monday, the 4:45 p.m. daily Mass was held outdoors under the Steel Cross on campus to celebrate the Catholic feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
Mass was celebrated by the Rev. Jonathan St. Andre, TOR, and concelebrated by the Revs. Shawn Roberson, TOR; Dennis Gang, TOR; Jonathan McElhone, TOR; and Thomas White.
The congregation spread out from the altar set at the base of the cross, bringing blankets and their university-issued lawn chairs, and spilled across the street onto the hill behind Sts. Louis and Elizabeth Residence Halls.
During his homily, St. Andre said, “It’s such a blessing to be out here, in God’s creation, under the cross, in this place on our campus that’s one of our sacred spots.”
According to St. Andre, the 60-foot cross was constructed in January 1991 out of steel donated from the Jewish president of a Weirton steel company, and was styled after a similar cross in Medjugorje, a popular European pilgrimage site.
St. Andre said that the cross is “a link to the steel industry in the Ohio valley, which is our origins and our roots as a university. … A Jew gave the steel for the cross. I think that’s very fitting for our Lord, coming from Jewish background, gave himself on a cross.”
Placed in one of the highest spots on campus, the cross is a focal point of the university.
“You can see (the cross) when you’re coming across the bridge and it’s a reminder of our call in living the Gospel to be a city set on a hill,” St. Andre said. “When we look at the cross, we are reminded of the good gift of our Lord.”
After communion, St. Andre said to look at the cross and offer heartfelt gratitude for the gift of redemption and victory that the Lord brought on the cross.
Before Mass began, Gang emerged from behind the friary, fully vested and joking with the students. In response to a student who wished him a happy feast day, Gang said, “I had nothing to do with the cross but I needed it.”