A year ago, as students and faculty returned to campus amidst new restrictions and precautions put in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saint John’s Campus Ministry was searching for ways to allow more people to gather for Mass in person.
And they hit upon a novel idea … why not celebrate Mass in a football stadium?
“It’s amazing to think back how little we knew about COVID even then,” recalls SJU Campus Ministry assistant director Pat Martin. “We keep learning more and more every day. But we did know that events outdoors with social distancing were the safest ways to gather. So we came up with the idea of holding Mass at the football stadium.”
That Mass – which was believed to have been the first to be celebrated in Clemens Stadium – turned out to be a big hit, drawing over 400 students from SJU and the College of Saint Benedict.
So Martin said it just made sense to do it again. This year’s Mass will begin at 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 5 with university chaplain Fr. Nick Kleespie, OSB presiding. It’s open to all CSB and SJU students interested in attending.
“We were just very glad to be invited back by the athletic department and athletic director Bob Alpers,” Martin said. “Now that they’ve installed the new (video) scoreboard in the stadium, they want that to get as much use as possible.
“And it ties in with the football pun we’re using for our Campus Ministry Kickoff, which will be held following Mass. That’s an opportunity for folks to get connected and involved with various faith groups on campus.
“So we’re excited about holding this event again.”
Martin said no pre-registration is required. Students just need to show up.
“All our welcome,” he said. “We’ll have people there when they show up to welcome them and show them to seats if they need help navigating the bleachers. We’re hoping to see as many people as possible.”