Just a little over a week ago I was in Chicago- amidst its tree lined enclaves, diversity of Devon Avenue, beauty of its Gardens and splendor of Holy Name. Striding comfortably through Loyola’s historic Water Tower and Lake Shore campuses, I felt less like one of this city’s many tourists and more as if I had come home. Strange to say, perhaps, as this was only my second trip to the windy city. Yet, the family I have found in the students, professors and staff at Loyola University over the last three years is the full embodiment of Christian community. Commencement itself was just the icing on the cake!
Never at a loss for great food, engaging conversation or things to do while staying with my close friend Paula, here are a few quick takes from Commencement week at Loyola Chicago.
With all of the excitement to come, how needed was this walk through the incredibly beautiful Botanic Gardens of Chicago! On this early morning, we were greeted with the songs of red winged blackbirds and mourning doves who didn’t seem to mind at all that we were there. Among the tulips, hyacinths, and bluebells I felt at peace, an amazingly small witness to the splendor of God’s creation. So easily I could picture myself as a child playing hide and seek in the walled garden and the sound of my shoes on the bridges. Truly a respite for the soul, this pause is a much needed time for us all to reconnect with who and whose we are.
One glance of the streets of Chicago and you vividly see the juxtaposition of old and new, cathedrals and skyscrapers, sari shops and Hasidic Jewish temples. Roads that have even been diverted so as to preserve the rich history of Chicago’s iconic structures. As an international relations undergraduate major, and religious education graduate what a sight!
This too is evidenced in the national Cathedral of Holy Name which was rebuilt in 1871 after the Great Chicago Fire. Home to some 6,700 families and newly appointed Archbishop Cupich, it is a vibrant Catholic parish surrounded by an amass of magnificent Gothic architecture. Inside, as well, are the caps of previous cardinals along with a memorial to beloved Cardinal George. How important to remember our shepherds, who continuously dedicate the breadth of their lives to the tending of the flock. May the Holy Spirit guide each one of them as they seek to lead us as a Church in the world.
Last but not least, were the Institute of Pastoral Studies Commissioning and Commencement ceremonies from Loyola Chicago. A long standing tradition held on the night before Commencement, students, family, alumnae, and professors from the Institute of Pastoral Studies gather to celebrate, pray and send forth the candidates for graduation. No sooner in the door, I was warmly hugged by fellow friends and classmates from the IPS Summer in Rome excursion. As many of us have kept in touch, it felt as if no time had passed since we were back in Rome sipping cappuccinos and limoncello. Others I have spoken with, emailed, and written back and forth for classwork yet had never met face to face. Remember when I said that Loyola is like a family? Well, it was truly one amazing reunion!