Photo by Chris Taggart

A crowd of more than 700 gathered at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 1 to once again ring in the Christmas season at Fordham University.

With the Fordham choir singing and lights twinkling from every corner of the Koch Theater Promenade, the annual President’s Club Christmas Reception appeared to be joining the city in gearing up for a “megawatt” Christmas, said Fordham President Joseph M. McShane, S.J.

And yet, Father McShane said, a far smaller display captures the true sentiment of the season.

“Our eye more than anywhere else is drawn to the most unassuming, most understated of Christmas lights—the candle in the window,” he told alumni, parents, staff, and other members of the Fordham community.

However, there is more to the seemingly innocent Christmas candle than meets the eye, Father McShane said. During the time of British persecution against the Catholic Church in Ireland, Irish Catholics would place candles in their windows as a secret welcome to priests, to whom they would offer hospitality in exchange for a celebration of the Eucharist.

With this subversive-yet-sacred history in mind, the image of Christmas candle was chosen to adorn the 2014 Fordham Christmas ornament, Father McShane said, because “it is a symbol that speaks volumes about who we are, what we believe in, and what we do.”

“Fordham has been about the sacred work of being ‘subversive’ for nearly 175 years, providing a different kind of education,” he said. “At the heart of Fordham is a passionate conviction that the core of a transformative and liberating education must be the encounter between the human heart and God.”

Father McShane thanked those gathered for the generosity that has helped sustain this mission.

“Your generosity is making a Fordham education affordable and accessible,” he said. “You have made it possible for Fordham to keep the candle in the window.”


Joanna Klimaski Mercuri is a staff writer in the News & Media Relations Bureau. She can be reached at (212) 636-7175 or [email protected]