Hovering on the eagle’s wings

Olate autumn afternoon, keyboardist Madison Schroeder ’21 softly played the familiar and moving hymn “On Eagle’s Wings” as faculty and staff filled the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.

I reflected on the meaning of the words of the song for our six new Marianist Associates in Education that we welcomed that day during the annual service of commitment prayer:

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will fly on eagle’s wings;
They will run and never get tired,
walk and not falter.

Standing in front of each other in the chapel with rays of sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows, these lay leaders are committed to “strengthening, sustaining and developing the Catholic and Marianist mission and identity of the University of Dayton.”

By our presence and our prayers, we wished them the strength to live the values ​​of the University and, by the example of their life, to share the Marianist charism with others. As some universities grapple with their mission and identity in a changing world, we know who we are. To a large extent, alongside the Marianists, the Marianist Educational Associates – known on campus as MEA – personify the heart and soul of the DU.

After completing a training program, MEAs partner with brothers, priests and sisters to advance the Marianist educational philosophy in classrooms, offices, laboratories, residences and their informal interactions with others. on the campus.

With 125 members and growing, these lay collaborators are part of a larger initiative, Forever Marianist, which aims to keep the founding philosophy at the heart of campus life at a time when dedicated religious are fewer (see article) . As we move forward into the future, their dedication to our timeless mission will count more than ever.

If history is any guide, it’s a hopeful future. Two centuries ago, while in exile during the French Revolution, Blessed Guillaume Joseph Chaminade welcomed an eclectic group of religious and lay people – priests, merchants, teachers, even chimney sweeps – into a new religious movement. Together, they were inspired by Mary, mother of Jesus, and nurtured the community, one relationship at a time. From the beginning, lay leadership has been a hallmark of the Marianists.

“As today, our Marianist founders faced a new and different future, but they faced it with courage and faith,” said Fr Jim Fitz, SM ’68, vice president for mission and rector. , to MEAs before meeting at the altar to affirm their commitment.

As we sang “On Eagle’s Wings” at the end of the prayer service, we left the chapel with renewed strength, ready to soar into the future with faith and strength.

Photos by Mary Kate Fleisher ’23.

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