It has been a difficult year for the nation, filled with loss, political upheaval, and the tragic pandemics of racism and COVID-19.  As we begin to emerge from concurrent crises, springtime rituals carry greater meaning than ever, said John Gownley, assistant director of campus ministry.

“As we all come together as a family, no matter our faith backgrounds, this spring season can be a time of a much-needed renewal for all of us,” he said.

Last year’s Easter celebrations at University Church were attended by a handful of Jesuits and scholastics. As the year progressed, attendance at Sunday Mass steadily increased with safety precautions, including Vital Check, strictly adhered to. By Holy Thursday of this year, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, was able to begin the series of Easter services starting with the Triduum, which marks the Last Supper and eventual removal of the Eucharist from the altar. The bells and music are silenced until the Sacrament returns, signifying the risen Christ at the Easter Vigil Mass celebrated on Holy Saturday, April 3.

This year, the Easter Vigil Mass represented not just a return of the Eucharist, but of long-postponed sacraments, such as Confirmation. At this year’s vigil, five members of the Fordham community were confirmed as Catholics by Lito Salazar, S.J., executive director of campus ministry. Director of University Church Ministries Mark Zittle, O.Carm., oversaw the rites and initiation. Nearly 70 members of the Fordham community—including students and families—were present to witness their full entry into the Church.

Gownley said that while the healing process and the work toward racial justice has only just begun, so too has the Easter season.

“We still have 50 days till Pentecost,” he said. “So, there’s still time to process, to pray, and to do the much-needed interior work that needs to be done to heal.”




Tom Stoelker is senior staff writer and visual media coordinator for Fordham News. After fifteen years as a freelance designer, Tom shifted his focus to writing and photography. He graduated from Lehman College, CUNY where he majored in English literature and photography and he received his master's in journalism from Columbia University. His work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Wall Street Journal, and The Architect's Newspaper, where he was associate editor.