By Clare Venegas
Special to The Texas Catholic
A combined crowd of nearly 400 students, faculty, alumni, staff and friends of the University of Dallas gathered at the Irving campus on 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.
Bishop Edward J. Burns concelebrated an afternoon Mass at the Church of the Incarnation with Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly; Father Abbot Peter Verhalen of Our Lady of Dallas Cistercian Abbey; Father Joseph Paul Albin, O.P., who serves as UD’s chaplain; and Father Fernando Carranza, rector of Redemptoris Mater Seminary. Additionally, priests representing orders and seminaries in the diocese were also in attendance, including seminarians from Holy Trinity Seminary serving as altar servers and representatives from Redemptoris Mater Seminary and the Opus Dei, Cistercian and Dominican communities.
Following Mass, Bishop Burns led the faithful on 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. In leading the procession, Bishop Burns was joined by Bishop Kelly, Father Abbot Verhalen, Father Albin, and Father Thomas Esposito, O. Cist., who serves as an assistant professor of theology at UD.
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 San Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City.
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, Bishop 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 the 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,” Bishop 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 Bishop Burns sent out a joint letter about the consecration, inviting parish pastors and encouraging them to invite their parish communities.
“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.
Bishop Burns, who serves as UD’s chancellor, said the consecration was an important event in the life of the university and for the diocese.
“The University of Dallas is and has long been a treasure for us here in the Diocese of Dallas, beginning in the 1950s with the leadership of Bishop Gorman,” Bishop Burns said. “Today, under the leadership of Dr. Sanford, the university is entering a new era of growth and optimism, in fulfilling its call as one of the premier Catholic liberal arts universities in the country.”
At the conclusion of the consecration, guests were given a special commemorative prayer card of The Memorare and an Our Lady of Guadalupe medal.
Clare Venegas is the vice president of marketing and communications for the University of Dallas.
Find more photos from the special day in The Texas Catholic’s photo gallery.