By Clare Venegas
Nearly 400 students, faculty, alumni, staff and friends of the University of Dallas gathered at the Irving campus on Friday, May 6, for a historic celebration and consecration of the university to Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and of the Diocese of Dallas.
Dallas Bishop Most Rev. Edward J. Burns concelebrated an afternoon Mass at the Church of the Incarnation with Bishop Greg Kelly, Abbot Peter Verhalen of Our Lady of Dallas Cistercian Abbey, University of Dallas Chaplain Father Joseph Paul Albin, O.P., and Father Fernando Carranza with Redemptoris Mater Seminary. Additionally, priests representing orders and seminaries through the diocese such as Redemptoris Mater Seminary, Opus Dei, Cistercians, Dominicans, were also in attendance, along with altar servers from Holy Trinity Seminary.
Mass was immediately followed by a one-mile eucharistic procession around campus, with the first stop at the university’s unique Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine on the eastern side of campus. Procession participants left multicolored roses at the foot of the bronze statue, recalling the original 16th century miracle of the roses when Our Lady first appeared to St. Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City.
Bishop Burns and Bishop Kelly led the procession, joined by Abbot Peter Verhalen, Father Thomas Esposito, O. Cist., assistant professor of theology at UD, and Father Joseph Paul Albin, O.P.
At the conclusion of the procession, attendees gathered again in the Church of the Incarnation for the conclusion of Mass and a special prayer of consecration.
In his closing remarks after the consecration, Burns noted that the monstrance used during the eucharistic procession is only one of six in the world blessed by Pope St. John Paul II during the Year of the Eucharist in 2004-05. It was also the same monstrance used during a eucharistic procession on the streets of New York, captured in the documentary “God in the Streets of New York City.”
“I share that with you … so that we recognize that it’s necessary to stay connected to Holy Mother Church, to the successors of the apostles, and to our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the community of saints, and in particular through the intercession of the Queen of the apostles, Our Lady of Guadalupe, we will be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ,” Burns said.
The idea of consecrating the university to Our Lady originated with President Jonathan J. Sanford soon after he was appointed as the 10th president of the University of Dallas.
“My wife and I have had a personal devotion to Our Lady for many years, and entrusting the important work that our students, our faculty and our staff do seemed the right way to mark this new era in the life of our university,” Sanford said.
A special effort was made to invite the wider Dallas community to the event. In March, Sanford and Burns sent out a joint letter about the consecration, inviting parish pastors and encouraging them to invite their own parish communities to campus for the celebration.
“Consecrating the University of Dallas in a public way, and welcoming the wider Dallas community to participate, is meant to be a powerful expression of who we are as a Catholic, liberal arts university,” Sanford said, adding that the university’s Catholic identity is attractive to Catholic students as well as students of all backgrounds and faiths.
At the conclusion of the consecration, guests were given a special commemorative prayer card of The Memorare and an Our Lady of Guadalupe medal, and enjoyed a reception on the Mall complete with refreshments and a mariachi band.