I am delighted to welcome all of you here for what has become a favorite Marywood tradition: the lighting of the campus Christmas tree. I am especially happy to welcome our smallest...and, I think, our most important guests, to help us celebrate this special event.
The Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Marywood began as a way to cope with the darkness of tragedy. After a fire destroyed the Motherhouse on February 22, 1971, a decision was made to decorate a live, planted evergreen tree that was growing in the area behind where the monumental building once stood. So, Christmas 1971—40 years ago this season—marked the start of this cherished tradition, which draws all of us here today.
We come together for more than tradition, however—we also gather for meaning. We rejoice in our faith, our various cultural heritages, and our desire for peace. We respect the common bonds among us. Such a universal expression of celebration, community, and meaning-making flows directly from our core value of Catholic Identity; we capture the fullness of the meaning of the word “catholic”—both as a Big “C” expression of faith and a small “c” demonstration of the unconditional, welcoming love that God has for each one of us—so much love, in fact, that He sent His Only Son to live among us.
Today, to celebrate the humble majesty of that most precious gift, we will bring forth the beautiful light of our Christmas tree. To do this, however, I’ll need some assistance, so I’ll call on my helpers to start the countdown....