Moment for Reflection

December 9, 2022

By Lena Gokelman, BM ’85

Mass of the Holy Spirit 2022

Faculty members holding symbols at Mass of the Holy Spirit

In keeping with a long tradition dating from the founding of the great European universities in the Middle Ages, the University of the Incarnate Word celebrates the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the start of each academic year. We acknowledge that we are many parts of one body, not only as an institution but as a faith community whose Mission is to make tangible the Incarnate Word to those we meet. Together, we ask for the inspiration, guidance and presence of God's Spirit in all our campus activities.

As the largest Catholic university and the fourth largest private university in Texas, UIW’s programs at the undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional levels span 11 schools and colleges, and over 90 undergraduate and 20+ graduate and doctoral degrees. Losing sight of our connectedness could easily become a reality, especially when trying to live our institutional Mission, inspired by the first Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. Yet, one of the hallmarks of this liturgy – the opening procession of symbols representing each school and college – through text and music, paints a beautiful mosaic of our core values of faith, service, education, innovation, and truth. We witness how the Mission ebbs and flows throughout our University community. In the words of this year’s participants:

School of Physical Therapy

Symbol: Human Hand

Presenter: Dr. Lisa McDougle

“The act of laying hands on the human body conveys warmth, provides comfort, and promotes healing as therapists seek to restore function, improve mobility, present or limit disability, and relieve pain.”

School of Osteopathic Medicine

Symbol: The Rod of Asclepius

Presenter: Dr. Steve Mifflin

“The Rod of Asclepius is the symbol of the American Osteopathic Association. In the Bible, Moses fashioned a bronze staff around which a bronze serpent was wound. Anyone bit by a serpent needed only look at the staff to be healed of the snake’s venom.”

College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Symbol: The Laurel Crown

Presenter: Dr. John Kainer

“The Laurel Crown calls our attention to the resurrection of Christ and the triumph of humanity. It also came to symbolize the liberal arts, where its influence is still found in the words “baccalaureate” and “poet laureate.”

Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions

Symbol: Human Hands

Presenters: Dr. Patricia Clark and Dr. Amanda Sheffield

“For the disciplines within the Ila Fay Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions – Nursing, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Kinesiology, Healthcare Sciences, Community Health Education and Sport Management – the hands are the vehicle for transmitting a caring ministry that promotes health and the provision of services to the ill through the combination of cognitive, psychosocial, and spiritual knowledge and expertise.”

Dreeben School of Education

Symbol: Lamp

Presenter: Dr. Grace Gutierrez

“Just as Solomon emphasizes the perfect guidance provided by God’s Word, it acts as a lamp for one’s immediate surroundings, showing where to step… the lamp serves as a light to blaze the trail ahead, so we, as believers can trust God regarding what lies in the future. It represents the courage of the students here at the University of the Incarnate Word, that they are compelled to be a light and trust that God is in control of both the present and the future, giving the believer peace and direction.”

School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering

Symbol: The Element of Iron

Presenter: Dr. Charles Fermaintt

“Iron is a metal characterized by its strength and is often used to build the skeleton of buildings and structures. In our body, from the moment we take our first breath, the iron inside hemoglobin carries oxygen to every single cell, allowing us to move, think, and live. In chemistry the two letters used to represent iron in the periodic table are Fe. Fé is also the Spanish word for faith. Like iron, faith is the material by which the framework of goodness, kindness, compassion and love is built… faith is a gift from the Holy Spirit. During these times of uncertainty, anxiety and confusion, we welcome you to be a beacon of goodness, kindness, compassion and love; and like iron that has paved the way to great advancement in humankind, allow faith to pave the way for better things.”

H-E-B School of Business and Administration

Symbol: Globe

Presenter: Dr. Halimin Herjanto

“The H-E-B School of Business and Administration curriculum includes a global perspective and an emphasis on social justice and community service.”

School of Media and Design

Symbol: Star

Presenter: Doris Palmeros-McManus

“Like hieroglyphics, icons communicate with visuals. It is a universal language of signs and symbols. The icon Seba, an Egyptian hieroglyphic representing stars and evoking a starfish, is linked with ideas of guidance, learning and new beginnings. Visual communication is embedded in our craft and disciplines. Connecting meaning visually through symbols and signs is our foundation. The five-pointed icon represents each of the five programs in SMD - Communication Arts, Animation and Game Design, Interior Design, Fashion Design and Graphic Design. A star icon exemplifies our faith, hope, excellence, leadership and spark for inspiration and Creativity."

UIW Community

Symbol: "The Heart of UIW"

Presenter: Beth Villarreal

“The image, 'The Heart of UIW', represents the entire UIW community. Through all our encounters, we - faculty, staff and students - come to know and bear the values of the Mission within our hearts. Faith, innovation, education, service and truth are our guide as we take our place as “enlightened citizens within the global community... making tangible the Incarnate Word of God.”