March Madness (Holy Cross’ Version)

Hi everyone! Hope everyone has had a great couple of weeks! Since coming back to Holy Cross after spring break, I have been looking to capture the authentic sense of joy I discovered in Mobile, and the bustle of life at Holy Cross has brought me quite the busy and blessed few weeks!

Firstly, being able to cheer on Holy Cross sports teams — namely men’s hockey and women’s basketball — as they compete in the championship stages of their season was a blast! For the women’s basketball game vs. Iowa (the #1 seed in the country!), the Office of Student Involvement hosted a watch party in the Prior Performing Arts Center, where students, faculty, alumni and community members gathered, in their best Purple Pride, to cheer on the Crusaders! The energy, love and support given to the team before, during and after the game was absolutely unbelievable to witness, and I will forever be thankful that the electric atmosphere of March Madness was able to reach (if only for a brief time) the hills of Holy Cross.

Additionally, I have been appreciative of the opportunities Holy Cross provides for students to hear the stories of others. Agape Latte, an event coordinated through the Student Government Association, invites a community member to share and reflect on their faith journey, and the Creative Writing department sponsors a Working Writers series where guest writers come to campus and share how they approached the writing process (as well as some excerpts from their latest work!). These events are offered various times throughout the academic year, but I find them to be especially helpful during the spring because it helps us discern what us students would like to do with our lives (i.e. for summer internships and jobs). Hearing how others took their personal experiences and values to build their career into something they are proud of is very inspiring, as it makes dreams feel possible. Off-campus, I am able to get a glimpse into the field of education through participation in SPUD, where I help elementary school students with their homework for about an hour once a week. This hands-on experience not only benefits the students and their school community, but personally is a great way to engage with the city of Worcester in an attempt to discover what I love!

I have also been able to immerse myself in experiences that bring me joy through participation in extracurriculars. The school’s literary magazine, The Purple, is currently in the beginning stages of building its annual issue, featuring the best creative writing and art of the student body, and as a member of the Purple staff as well as a creative writer, I am eager to share my work — and the collaborative work of the English department — at the end of the semester! On top of that, the Dance Ensemble has been working tirelessly to choreograph and perfect our dances for our spring show. The musical theatre class and I will be dancing to a mashup of several songs from Mean Girls: The Musical, and it has been an amazing and fulfilling experience to work with a spectacular group of (not mean) girls!

Lastly, this year, the end of the month brings the conclusion of the Lenten season — and the start of Holy Week! This past weekend I was able to participate in the celebration of Palm Sunday mass as an altar server, and it was such a beautiful way to welcome the new season with the rest of the Holy Cross community! Later this week I will be heading home to spend Easter with my family, but to have even part of the Easter celebrations occur on campus was really special.

Wishing everyone the best this Easter season — see you again in April!

Letting Love & Light Shine on Spring Break Immersion!

Hello everyone! Hope everyone had a great spring break! As mentioned in my last post, I spent my break participating in Holy Cross’ Spring Break Immersion Program, which is organized every year through the Chaplain’s Office. This year, I traveled to Mobile, AL to immerse myself in the First Light Community, where I shared time with both the core members (i.e. individuals with intellectual disabilities) and team members (i.e. assistants and caretakers) who make up the community. First Light Community operates very similarly to a L’Arche community (where I traveled last year!) in the sense that they both prioritize celebrating life by cultivating a community centered around love. And during my time at First Light, it is safe to say that I experienced nothing but love.

Over the course of the week, my group members – all Holy Cross students I didn’t really know before – displayed such kindness, grace, and compassion, and I am honored to now call them all friends. Meanwhile, the core members at First Light radiated so much joy, which allowed friendships to flourish by making each seemingly simple moment feel so special. I remember one night after dinner (we shared most meals with the core members after completing our tasks/chores for the day) a couple of us were locked in an intense game of Uno with some of the core members and team members, and we all were laughing and joking around as if we’d known each other for years. I honestly don’t remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did while in community at First Light. I also loved learning about each core member’s life in a more intimate conversational setting as we went on walks or raked leaves outside. (Side note: it was absolutely beautiful down there – the sun was much-needed!) At First Light, I was so touched by how natural the relationship building felt, as if I didn’t have to work to ‘earn’ friendship and everyone accepted and loved me just as I was. Everyone was so open to sharing their stories and spending time together, and that gave us the space, as visitors, to feel comfortable sharing parts of our lives as well.

Another highlight of my experience within the First Light Community was participating in weekly worship. It was so beautiful to see core members, team members and other community members gather together over a shared love and devotion to faith through singing songs such as “This Little Light of Mine” and “Amazing Grace” and offering points of wisdom during the sermon. Finally, the last day spent in community featured a community lunch and dance party with the entire First Light Community, complete with a blessing as we prepared to head back home.

Aside from the formation of countless new friendships, one major personal takeaway from spring break immersion this year was the reminder to slow down. I learned to embrace the simplicity and peacefulness of life and to more deeply value the love that is shared with others. I am working to prioritize ‘loving for no reason,’ in addition to fully and fearlessly immersing myself in experiences that spread authentic joy.

If you haven’t already noticed, I could spend all day raving about my spring break experience. I will recommend spring break immersion tirelessly to anyone & everyone, as it serves as a reminder of what’s really important in life. Aside from disability rights sites, other spring break immersion sites focus on food insecurity, homelessness and sustainable living, among others. Although the activities and communities may be different, the mission is still the same, and we all came back to Holy Cross with a full heart and a bucket full of blessings.

February Friendships Bring March in Mobile!

Hello everyone! Somehow the past month flew by and we’ve already made it to March! Here at Holy Cross, students are wrapping up the last of their assignments before they set off for spring break. Similarly to last year, I will be spending my break traveling with a group of HC students to immerse ourselves in community through Holy Cross’ Spring Break Immersion Program. This year, I will be traveling to First Light Community in Mobile, AL, to spend time with adults with and without intellectual disabilities who live together in community. However, before I take off bright and early tomorrow morning, let’s recap my February on the Hill!

As mentioned previously, this month featured the Holy Cross Dance Ensemble Benefit Performance to support Working for Worcester. Aside from the donation aspect, allowing dancers to engage with the Worcester community, what makes the benefit performance so special is that anyone is able to choreograph a dance for the performance. I was fortunate enough to be a part of two outstanding musical theatre numbers, choreographed by a friend of mine (who is an excellent dancer AND teacher!) and everyone in the entire ensemble brought their A game for the show. Performance videos are linked here if anyone is interested in watching!

Additionally, earlier this week I was able to attend the Holy Cross Orchestra & Wind Ensemble Concert, titled a Cinematic Odyssey, where they performed an amazing assortment of songs from film soundtracks (including but not limited to Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Star Wars). It is always such a joy to see the talents and accomplishments of fellow students be showcased and celebrated, and I’ve always been in awe of the support the Holy Cross community gives one another. I’ve also provided the livestream of the concert here if you’re interested.

This past weekend, I was also able to tear up the dance floor on two separate occasions. First, the sophomore class hosted a casino-themed ball (with no real gambling!) that not only supported our class but also brought us together. It was nothing short of a blast to be able to dance alongside my best friends and spend time together as if we were at senior prom again. Secondly, the Black Student Union (BSU) in collaboration with the Women’s Basketball Team hosted a Sneaker Ball, which was another great way of bringing people together to show support for the community during Black History Month. (Sneakers are also significantly more comfortable to dance in, which is much appreciated!)

Besides time spent with friends, I have also been busy thinking about how I want to spend my summer (yes, already). The Career Center, located on the second floor of Hogan Campus Center, has been an excellent resource in helping me (as well as other students) craft and polish my resume, search for internships, and prepare for interviews.

Lastly, this month has welcomed the liturgical season of Lent on campus. St. Joseph’s Memorial Chapel was filled with students and community members for a whopping four celebrations of Ash Wednesday. It was really special to see everyone embrace the new season together and later see classmates and friends bearing the cross on their foreheads. Throughout the season of Lent, I will be saying a Rosary at least two times a week, in addition to continued attendance at Mass and adoration. So far it has been going really well, and I’ve appreciated the opportunity to slow down and pray throughout the day. And of course, coming full circle to the start of this post, participation in Spring Break Immersion will invite me to practice humility (in true Jesuit fashion) during this season of Lent.

Wishing you all a safe, restful and wonderful spring break – hope the weather is warm and the experiences are blessed! Thank you for reading!