Symbols of LMU Invigorate Commencement Mass

MISSION AND MINISTRY | Next Friday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Gersten Pavilion, the university will celebrate its annual Commencement Mass. This liturgical celebration is a great prayer of thanksgiving. Our graduating seniors, and graduate students who are finishing their programs, gather at this event with parents, extended family and friends to give thanks to God for the many blessings received during their time at LMU. Special prayers are offered for the gift of dedicated faculty and university staff who have contributed to their overall educational experience. Our graduates also remember in a particular way parents, siblings and other family members who have helped them through the years. So many people have supported them in helping them come to this very important day.

One notable part of the ceremony occurs when the gifts are presented at the altar. The “LMU Centennial Hymn” is traditionally sung at this point in the liturgy. This hymn was commissioned for the 100th anniversary of LMU and it articulates so many thoughts and feelings that are on the minds of all who participate this evening. The hymn remembers three themes central to the charisms of the religious communities who founded the university. From the Marymount sisters, there is the prayer “that all may have life.” From the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, there is the prayer “that all may be one.” And from the Jesuits, there is the prayer and the reminder that all we do in life is for “the greater glory of God.”

While this hymn is sung, a beautiful ritual takes place: Graduating seniors, graduate students finishing their degrees, university faculty members, university staff and administrators, and family members place multicolored ethnic cloths on the altar. These cloths represent the variety of cultures and backgrounds of our students and of the university community. Several of these cloths have been brought back to LMU by students involved in international service/immersion programs – the Ignacio Companion programs and the Alternative Break programs. The cloths are a symbol of our diversity just as this liturgy is a symbol of our unity. Members of the congregation in Gersten on Friday evening represent many religious backgrounds but all are united in prayer and good wishes for the wonderful young women and men who are completing their academic work.

A student committee has worked during the spring semester to choose the Scripture readings and the music for this Commencement Mass. It is significant that the reading they chose for the gospel is from the Gospel of John, “love one another” The students’ choice emphasizes the central role of love, care, compassion and concern for others that should be characteristic of the lives of all who have been truly educated and transformed by an LMU education.

We invite all members of the LMU community to join us on Friday night for this memorable and enjoyable celebration as we begin graduation weekend.