For many college freshmen, the first couple days at school may be a hesitant and uncertain step into the unknown. Here at Magdalen College, our journey into the unknown is taken with confidence and joy, knit together by a common goal, our Catholic faith, and a common life. Together we learn, we pray, we work, and we enjoy each other’s company; and the first few days of Orientation and “Freshman Welcome” are only the beginning.
The year began with introductory classes and the academic Mass of the Holy Spirit on Thursday, September 9, and Friday, September 10, respectively. During these first days, freshmen had their initial encounter with the Socratic method of dialogue, engaging some of the greatest thinkers and authors of all time. Together, with their tutors, they began a quest like none other: the search for truth, beauty, and goodness through the liberal arts.
At Friday’s Mass of the Holy Spirit, Chaplain Father Joseph Simburger asked the Holy Spirit’s blessing upon the academic year. As members of the choir, organ and string ensemble, upperclassmen participated in the full splendor and glory of this important celebration. At the culmination of the Mass, all of the Catholic faculty and staff of the College took the Oath of Fidelity, to “preserve communion with the Catholic Church whether in the words [they] speak or in the way [they] act….” With this solemn oath, our search for the truth though ever in a spirit of open inquiry would remain grounded on the firm rock of our Catholic faith.
At the conclusion of orientation, we temporarily left aside our studies and set off on a different kind of adventure: a hike to the summit of Mount Kearsarge. Thus began “Freshmen Welcome Weekend”: in the beauty of the New Hampshire outdoors. The spirit of the entire weekend was “so alive, fresh, and joyous” said one upperclassman, Jennifer Barron ‘07, as together we welcomed the next year, the new students, and took a new step in our lives before us. After an invigorating hike, we spent the evening at Elm Brook Park in Contoocook, New Hampshire, playing sports, enjoying walks near the scenic lake, and sharing a delicious barbeque served by our president and vice president. The events of the day really made you feel like “you were integrated into the community,” remarked one freshman, and it was great to be “treated like a person and not just a number….”
On Sunday, the soccer field became the site of the now famous “Magdalen Olympics” relay races and sports competitions, and the annual inter-class tug-of-war. Afterwards, all of the classes were formally introduced, together with the faculty and staff and their families. “ It was really nice to see the faculty and staff [present at the events of the weekend] together with their families,” commented Nicole Weist ‘08. “You could see that they really love what they do.” Finally, at the close of the day, we came together once more for an outdoor dinner, rosary and songs around a blazing bonfire. With a spirit of joy and hope, we had set out together, embracing whole-heartedly the challenges and adventures of this year’s academic, spiritual, and social life at Magdalen College. And this weekend was only the beginning.
Allannah Karas is a sophomore at Magdalen College.