This is fascinating stuff — and I was pleased and impressed to see that one of the students involved in this is from my parish in Queens.
From The Baltimore Sun:
It’s late on a cold Sunday night at Loyola University Maryland, and with most of its students apparently ensconced in the warmth of their dorm rooms or library carrels, the North Baltimore campus seems as dark and still as the inside of an empty cathedral.
Inside the small lounge of one freshman dorm, though, a celebration is coming to life.
Young men and women steam in by the dozen, faces illuminated by glowing candles. The strains of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” thrum off the walls. And a priest in collar and dark jeans takes his place at a makeshift altar up front.
“Guys, we’re starting with a classic rock song, and it deals with the theme of hope,” the Rev. Joseph Rossi, 69, tells the nearly 200 people now filling the incense-filled space. “Listen to the line, ‘I believe in Kingdom Come.’ That’s what’s giving them hope. That’s what their faith is holding onto.”
And the most talked-about weekly gathering on campus, the Hopkins Court Mass, has begun.
In an era in which attendance in the Catholic Church remains in decline, particularly among young adults, the 10 p.m. Mass Rossi celebrates draws more than 150 a week, at least the equivalent of its more conventional counterparts. And it generates a buzz on campus that other activities can’t touch.
Some say it’s that the service spotlights rock and pop music, YouTube videos, internet memes or film clips alongside the core elements of a traditional Mass. To others, it’s that students work with Rossi to devise, promote and carry out each one, generating a rare sense of ownership.
And many regulars cite the lack of formality, the location outside the confines of church buildings, and the sense of community that develops among those who attend.
Julia Scapp, a junior from New York who was raised Catholic, has been attending the Hopkins Court Mass regularly since her freshman year.
The 21-year-old says her commitment to the faith had been flagging — “I wasn’t feeling a connection to my home church,” she says — but the 10 o’clock Mass has brought it back to life.
“Even though the readings and the Gospels were the same ones, the way Father Rossi connected them to things that matter to me gave me a new outlook on church,” she says. “It was suddenly so relevant, so relatable. It meant a complete 180 for me.”
Also visit the Hopkins Court Facebook page for more.