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Holy Cross community offers Lenten reflections

Posted By February 20, 2015 | 11:22 am | Featured Article #2

By Tanya Connor

• “It happened on a subway train. A man, seeing my black suit and white collar, pointed to me and said in a voice loud enough for others to hear, ‘I think you Catholic priests were misled in your training.’”
• “Last fall I made the decision that I didn’t want to be a doctor. As a cancer survivor, I had wanted to inspire others and bring hope even in the face of a seemingly hopeless diagnosis.”
These are the beginnings of two stories in a series of Lenten reflections – a new endeavor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, that creators hope will bring the local and extended college community together.
Jesuit Father Paul Harman, vice president for mission, tells the first story above. Will Peters, class of 2017, tells the second. Theirs are among 47 daily reflections for Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday.
Anyone interested, whether or not they are affiliated with the college, can sign up for daily e-mails at or they can download a PDF file of the reflections. The e-mails are to start on Ash Wednesday and contain the reflection and a link to the day’s Scriptures.
Printed booklets are to be available in the campus chapel. Father Harman and Keith Maczkiewicz prepared the series with intern Mary Cunningham.
Mr. Maczkiewicz is a Jesuit serving as assistant chaplain at the college while in training for ordination. His reflection includes an interview with beloved dining hall employee Charlotte “Sis” Wise.
The booklet was designed and printed at the college, which got the idea from Georgetown University, he said. He said  Georgetown does something similar for Lent and Advent, and that Holy Cross hopes to offer a new set of reflections each Lent.
“I’m very excited,” Father Harman said. “We have traditionally had a number of Lenten programs on campus … and we continue to have those. … This is the first time we’re attempting something that will be available for the entire Holy Cross community. We have found something very reflective of who we are. … We’re a small Jesuit college that wants to invite not only the people on campus, but all its alums and benefactors and parents, to enter more deeply into the season of Lent.”
Mr. Maczkiewicz said the series takes its name, “Return to Me: Lenten Reflections from Holy Cross, 2015,” from the Scripture: “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel 2:12) But, the chaplain said, it’s also because of the interest of alumni.
“They want to return to the hill here,” he said. “They want to be connected with this place. That’s one of the reasons we have so many contributors.”
Among contributing writers are long-time faculty members who taught the alumni and alumni themselves, Board of Trustees chairman and members, Jesuit Father Philip L. Boroughs, president; Marybeth Kearns-Barrett, Chaplains Office director, class of 1984;  the Rev. Virginia Coakley, Protestant chaplain, and Father Timothy M. Brewer, class of 1975, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Jefferson.
Mr. Maczkiewicz said he hopes the series “helps people to pray, but also that we come to a sense of the communal aspect of our faith,” as members of the college community are drawn together. Contributors sharing their stories will help readers to tap into their own stories, he said.
“Salvation history is always unfolding,” he said. “It’s all part of God’s story.”
Father Harman’s story continues with the man on the subway accusing Catholics of being taught to trust in the pope, Mary and rituals instead of Jesus. The priest writes that he smiled at the man and said, “My life would have no meaning if Jesus had not come to save us. Rituals and devotions and popes have no significance without Jesus’ promise of eternal life.” He acknowledged that he believed Jesus had saved him, but he needed to grow in that belief, and the man nodded and fell silent. Father Harman continues his March 15 reflection with challenges from Scripture.
Will Peters’ March 24 story continues with his admission that, when he prayed about pursuing medicine, he realized that desires for money, title and stability accompanied his altruistic desire. In
pursuing that path, he was closing himself off to “a wonderful
unknown,” a life where he would trust in God, he says. He worried about telling his father, a physician, but his father supported his hope of being a writer and teacher, encouraging him to do what he loves and to discern God’s plan.
Other reflection writers offer other insights into aspects of God’s plan – from loving to listening to using anger constructively. Their stories include ones of battling illness, washing feet and learning from the poor.