Catholics host annual ‘Mass on the Grass’
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 00:10
Each Wednesday night, students gather at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church on 4th Street for a religious celebration, but this week the service was a little different.
On Wednesday night, about 120 people came out to the District at the University of Southern Mississippi for St. Thomas’s second annual Mass on the Grass, an outdoor worship service.
“It’s great that we can celebrate our freedom,” said the Rev. Tommy Conway, pastor of St. Thomas. “The fact that we can actually come onto a campus like this as a church group and have a prayer service outdoors is really phenomenal to me.”
Parishioners sat on blankets and towels during the service, which took place amid temperatures in the high 70s.
“Students and families walking up with their blankets and lawn chairs to worship on campus is just a heartwarming feeling,” said Maria Finch, a senior elementary education major and president of the Catholic Student Association. “It’s always nice fall weather and a fun, relaxing evening with friends.”
Conway said the idea for Mass on the Grass came six years ago when a friend from Indiana informed him of a similar event that was held at a college there. St. Thomas planned the event for the following year, but it was rained out. The next year, it was rained out again.
“Even though this should be our fourth year of having Mass on the Grass, it’s our second,” Conway said. “We’re just happy to be here and see everyone out enjoying themselves and thanking God for a beautiful evening.”
For Finch, the cool weather and atmosphere made the event a relaxing one.
“I enjoy how casual it is, yet it is very symbolic and sincere, reflecting Jesus’s ministry to all His followers,” Finch said. “What’s special is being able to take our celebration of the Eucharist outside and join together as college students to share our faith.”
Kyle Ladner, an exercise science major who has been a member of CSA for two years, said he always enjoys the event.
“It’s awesome to be able to receive Jesus out in God’s creation,” Ladner said. “It’s a wonderful gift to be able to celebrate the Most Holy Eucharist in God’s wonderful creation.”
Finch added that not all in attendance were Catholic, and students of all faiths were invited to attend Mass on the Grass.
“All are welcome,” Finch said. “Even if you aren’t Catholic, we still invite everyone to participate.”
In addition to Wednesday and Sunday evening church services, CSA hosts a variety of community service and social events throughout the year. The group is planning a Halloween party for the Dubard School and their biggest event of the semester, a fall retreat to be held Oct. 26-28.
For more information on USM CSA, visit their Facebook and Twitter pages.