Psi Chi’s Stress Less Week: The honors society for Psychology hosted a variety of events to educate and support stressed students.

November is probably the most stressful month of the fall semester. Midterm exams fall during this month, and it feels like every possible important project, paper, and assignment is due at this time. Students and professors alike are catching up on work that they’ve fallen behind on. And in addition to all of that, registration opens for the next semester, so students need to be thinking not only about the ever-demanding present, but also about the future as well. Thanksgiving break looms in the foreground, but for many students, there’s the added stress of making plans to get home or finding someone to stay with if they aren’t able to go home.

For all of these reasons and more, Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, decided to host their Stress Less Week during the first week of November, from the first to the fifth. They had events all week long to help educate students on stress and how to deal with it, as well as providing ways to reduce stress.

Stress has been proven to not only affect your mental health but also your physical health. It’s important to pay attention to the signs your mind and body are showing you to indicate that you are stressed, like feeling tired or irritable constantly, struggling to focus, and experiencing headaches. If you are concerned about your levels of stress, try the tips below. If your stress levels are causing distress, contact a healthcare professional, CCAS, or a call center line designed to help you find solutions to manage your stress.

On Monday, they set up a table in Walton and greeted students with packets on stress, tea bags, and a sticker of their choice. There was also a table where students could make their own stress ball by filling an uninflated balloon with rice. Stress balls have been found to be useful in improving the focus of sixth graders in a study by Sheryl Stalvey and Heather Brasell, so anyone who took a few minutes to make their own stress ball may be finding that their focus in class improved.

Tuesday’s event was an art night in McInnis, where students could bring their own project or start a new one. The term art therapy was firts coined in 1942 by British artist Adrian Hill. It was used to improve the mood of tuberculosis patients confined to santitoriums, and by 1964, the idea of artistic expression as a metnally healing practice was cemented by the creation of the British Association of Art Therapists.

Psi Chi also partnered with Wednesday Night Worship for their mid-week event. The tag on their poster read, “Give your worries to God!” There are many Bible verses that are often quoted in tandem with that idea, such as Matthew 11:28-30 and 1 Peter 5:7. Music is also a source of comfort and an emotional outlet for many people, whether they play an instrument, sing, or just listen to music. Many people find it cathartic to sing along to songs with lyrics that express their worry and fear while also allowing them to give those emotions to God.

On Thursday, they held a Yoga Night where students were encouraged to bring their own mat. Yoga originated in South Asia as a practice connected to the Hindu religion, but today, many people in the West practice it without connecting it back to its origins. Many yoga practices involved stretching and regulated breathing.

Lastly, on Friday, Psi Chi concluded their Stress Less Week with DIY Self-Care Night, where they encouraged students to implement the practices that they’d found most helpful over the course of the week and to make them a regular part of their routine. Stress isn’t something that can be banished with one night of yoga or an hour doing art; because the causes of stress never go away, the solutions need to be consistent as well. Hopefully, Psi Chi Stress Less Week showed students how they can form consistent habits to reduce their own stress.

Sources: https://adelphipsych.sg/the-history-of-art-therapy/, the Bible

EU Play: “Almost, Maine”: A review of EU Arts’s fall production, “Almost, Maine.”

This semester, Eastern’s theatre department performed “Almost, Maine,” a modern play composed of a series of short scenes that take place at the same moment in time, in the same town, with different characters. It’s a clever concept, and the cast and crew of the play executed it beautifully. However, I ultimately found that my sentiments matched the tagline of the play: “It’s love. But not quite.”

There are a million things to love about the play. First of all, the cast is wonderful. There are only twelve cast members, and many of them are double-cast, since there are almost no repeat characters between scenes. They all do a wonderful job making each character unique and interesting, and despite depicting a range of characters of different ages and backgrounds, each one feels very authentic. The costumes help with this. They’re not complicated affairs, but they’re clever. You can tell that Hope has come from out of town as soon as she walks on stage, for example, by her heeled boots and too-light coat.

The set is also gorgeous. As soon as you walk in, you know you’ll be in for a treat. Edison bulbs are strung across the majority of the ceiling, and they twinkle and glow throughout much of the play, creating a charming atmosphere. “You just want to curl up and read a book there,” stage director Anna Davis said. The creation of the Northern Lights is also impressive, and the set pieces on stage are simple and artful, giving the audience just enough to guide them while avoiding overwhelming the actors.

However, I couldn’t make myself love the story, despite the amazing job that the cast and crew did with it. The story incorporates fabulism, a literary technique where magic and strange happenings are part of the everyday world we live in; it’s comparable to magical realism, but some experts argue that magical realism can only be used to describe postcolonial narratives. Fabulism/magical realism is one of my favorite genres, but I think this play gives it a bad name. The fabulism elements were gimmicky and overly self-referential; when one character realizes she’s fallen in love with another, for example, she quite literally falls over, and then states that she’s fallen because she fell in love. Likewise, another character carries around her broken heart in a bag. Well-crafted magical realism and fabulism feels natural to the world; the audience should believe that this is the way the world was meant to be. There was nothing necessary or beautiful about the fabulist elements in this play, and I found it hard to suspend my disbelief.

Another issue with the story was a pitfall of one of the best elements of the play: the vignette style. Because the scenes were so short, some of them worked better than others. I anticipate that people will have different scenes that worked and that didn’t, but there were a couple scenes where I didn’t feel like I had enough information to get emotionally involved with the characters. The framing device was one such scene: I loved the idea of having one scene that bookends the play, but there simply wasn’t enough there for me to care about whether the characters love each other or not.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed watching the play. There were scenes that were beautifully done—I cried at one scene. The cast and crew did a wonderful job with material that simply missed the mark for me. It was the Eastern theatre department that gave me everything I loved about “Almost, Maine,” and for that, I applaud them.

Don’t Forget to Registration: Class registration begins early November.

It’s that time of the year again, when the semester still feels like it’s in full swing, and yet, we have to start thinking about next semester. The schedules and class lists for Spring 2022 have been published; to find them, log into your MyEastern page, click on the Academic Plan-Registration tab, and click on Student Planning. This will take you to your current semester’s schedule, and from there, you can click on the tab for your progress or the tab for planning and scheduling.

Getting the classes you need for your major is important to stay on track for graduation. I’ve found my progress page to be super helpful for that! I can see my GPA, my credits earned, and a breakdown of my required classes in various categories highlighted in red, yellow, and green. If you’re having trouble organizing your classes or figuring out the right sequence to take classes in, that’s what your academic advisor is for! Most of them will make time to talk you through your course load if you reach out by email, and everyone has to have their courses approved by their advisor before they can register.

However, if you have some extra time in your schedule, you might want to check out some classes that will nourish a different part of your brain! If you’re a STEM major, try out a theatre or a dance class; if you’re a humanities major, see if there’s an entry-level class in a subject out of your ballpark that has openings, like an astronomy class or a psychology class. There are a handful of one credit elective classes as well, which are only an hour each week. I always try to balance my course load so I’m not doing too much of the same thing. It’s easy to overload our brains and burn out in college, and scheduling carefully is one way to avoid exhausting ourselves.

Registration is staggered depending on the quantity of credits you have. If you have more than 73 credits, you can register Nov. 2. If you’re between 32 and 72.99, you’re on the third, and any amount below 30 means you register on Nov. 4. Make sure to set a timer and have your classes organized by then to make sure you get the schedule you want; good luck!

ACE Week 2021: An introduction to asexuality awareness and activism.

This year, Ace Week is October 24th to 30th! According to the website of aceweek.org, “Ace Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness, build community, and create change around the world.” But raise awareness for what?

Despite asexuality becoming more visible each year, there are still many people who don’t know what the A in LGBTQIA stands for. It stands for asexual (ace), aromantic (aro), and agender, and just because someone identifies as one of those doesn’t mean they necessarily identify as all three. During Ace Week, the focus is on the first of those three—asexuality.

Asexuality is defined as experiencing little or no sexual attraction. Sexual attraction is when someone feels an attraction that is sexual in nature towards a specific person. Just because someone is asexual doesn’t mean that they’ll never want to have sex; it just means that they don’t experience sexual attraction directed towards anyone, regardless of whether or not they experience romantic feelings for that person. People who identify as asexual can identify with any form of romantic attraction (just change the -sexual to -romantic, like saying biromantic, homoromantic, heteroromantic, or panromantic) or no form of romantic attraction at all (aromantic).

Our society places an enormous value on sex and romance. People who don’t experience sexual attraction can often feel isolated from or confused by those who do (generally referred to as allosexuals). Asexuality has historically been seen as something that is wrong with a person and should be fixed, and asexuals can experience marginalization in relationships, in the media, under the law, and in the medical field. Asexuals have also been seen as or portrayed as people who don’t have emotions or who lack the ability to love others. This simply isn’t true. As AVEN, the Asexual Visibility and Awareness Network, says, “Unlike celibacy, which is a choice to abstain from sexual activity, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who we are, just like other sexual orientations. Asexual people have the same emotional needs as everybody else and are just as capable of forming intimate relationships.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about asexuality, there’s a growing pool of resources for you! The book Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and The Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen is a great resource to jump into. There are also online advocates like Yasmin Benoit, a Black model, writer, and activist from Britain who often speaks on the intersection of being Black and ace, or the channel called Ace Dad Advice on Tiktok, Twitter, and Youtube, where Cody Daigle-Orians gives advice as an older mentor figure within the asexual community. There are also many wonderful fiction books that center ace characters, such as Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger, Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, and Not Your Backup by C.B. Lee.

Refuge is also a great on-campus community for queer people and allies at Eastern! If you have questions, they can help you find the answers or come beside you as you search for those answers.

This week, take some time to check out one of these resources. The ace flag has four stripes of black, grey, white and purple; keep an eye out for it. If you know someone who identifies as ace, ask how you can support them! 

Ghost and Graves: An archival dive into the legends of our campus in honor of spooky season.

CONTENT WARNING: This article contains mention of suicide, homicide, and animal death. 

Did you know that Eastern has not one, but two ghosts? And a grave? That’s right — these stories have been around for decades, even one for over a century. 

Firstly, there’s the Walton ghost. Named Suzy Walton, she’s somewhat known around campus, and is by far the more popular ghost story of our two. The decades-old rumor, dating back to about 1961, tells the story of seven-year-old Suzy either committing suicide or being murdered in 1929 (accounts vary). Some say she hanged herself off the railing or threw herself out of her window; others say she was strangled or suffocated.  Multiple staff and students have attested to the ghost’s existence after visiting the fourth floor (locked for storage since the early sixties) of the Walton building, where supposedly Suzy had her bedroom. The fourth floor allegedly has a bloody handprint on one of its walls. There is an account of a student being choked by invisible hands with his necklace after visiting, and of students and staff hearing unidentified wailing and footsteps at night. 

Number two: the Doane ghost. Purportedly, this ghost is either a former servant for the Walton family in the 1910’s (Doane was used for servants’ quarters according to our archived sources), or a student resident of the building decades later in Doane B. Whoever the ghost really was, her name was Reba Yoder. There are accounts of strange happenings in Doane A, B, and C, including unidentified footsteps at night, chairs tipping themselves over in an empty bathroom, feet dangling from beneath bathroom stalls, rope appearing out of nowhere in a bathroom, and lights flickering off in the laundry room. The bathroom stories allegedly occurred mostly in Doane B, where Reba was said to reside. Our source did not report how long this story has existed.

Our campus’ grave is shrouded in an even greater mystery of over a century, however, as its otherwise-identifying engravings have been largely worn away by the elements. Notably small, measuring not more than eighteen inches in height at most, no one quite knows who or what was laid to rest there. It reportedly was on the property before Charles Walton, Sr. ever bought it from the previous owners, the Harrisons, in 1910. An 1875 map of the then-farmland presented by Frederick Boelke, who our archives say was highly knowledgeable about the history of the property, has led many to believe that this grave houses the remains of a horse. Hence its common referral among students as the notorious “horse graveyard”. The grave is located across the parking lot in front of Sparrowk Hall. We have no documented accounts of any strange activity surrounding the horse graveyard as of now, but if anyone has heard stories, do send them in for a potential follow-up.

Although medical records say that Suzy Walton died of lupus and our archives report that she did not live in the Walton home, that the alleged bloody handprint is most likely paint, that her ghost story was likely fabricated by an English professor between 1959 and his retirement in 1995, and that archivist and property historian Boelke reported not having heard the legend before 1961; although none of the stories about Reba Yoder are confirmed to be true, and the question of her true identity attests to likely fabricated stories; although no one can quite be sure of what lies beneath the tiny, eroded grave outside Sparrowk or has yet heard strange stories about it — there is no doubt our small campus has any deficiency in satisfyingly old, creepy legends. What you believe is up to you. 

Sources: Brian Cooper (1979), Kristen Gaiser (2003), Chelsea Zimmerman (2007), unknown writer (2009), Stephanie Weaver (2009), Anthony Pelone (2013), Hannah Day (2013), and Parker Desautell (2015), all writing for the Waltonian; Radnor Historical Society Bulletin “A Tale of Two Estates” by John A. Baird, Jr. (1998) 

Thanks to Chelsea Post (systems librarian) for access to the Waltonian archives.

China Builds 5,000-Room Quarantine Center: China’s 5,000-room quarantine center is opened in Guangzhou for oversea arrivals

Many countries have begun opening up for international travelers again, with restrictions depending on nationality and vaccination status. For visitors interested in going to China, they’ll find themselves in Guangzhou’s International Health Station, which opened on Sept. 17 of this year. These rows of grey buildings span an area comparable to forty-three football fields and can hold up to five thousand occupants, but Chinese officials predict they’ll fill up fast. According to a CNN article, the average passenger jet has three hundred passengers, and travelers will be required to quarantine for at least two weeks. For those of you not interested in doing the math, that means that the International Health Station will be very close to capacity once sixteen airplanes’ worth of passengers have arrived.

Once travelers clear customs at the airport, they’ll be transported to the facility by bus. Guests will check in and out through technology, and every measure will be taken to prevent contact with other people, including other guests. The rooms in Guangzhou International Health Station are equipped with a video chat camera and an artificial intelligence thermometer, and robots are sent to deliver meals each day. All these measures are designed to minimize contact with staff members, though all medical personnel have to undergo rigorous quarantining protocols themselves in order to prevent them transmitting any outbreak to the population at large.

This facility was constructed in just three months, a staggering construction feat given the size of the project, and it cost the Chinese government approximately $260 million in U.S. dollars. Guangzhou is the sensible flagship city for the first International Health Station, since the southern city receives up to ninety percent of China’s international travelers. While it’s the first of its kind in China, some sources suggest that other cities are already planning to build their own health stations, since China’s policies around COVID-19 suggest that there will be zero tolerance for the virus and that they plan to continue aggressive measures to prevent the spread of the illness. Sources report that Dongguan, a major manufacturing hub, and Shenzhen, known for its technology development, will be the next sites, though likely they won’t be as large as the ones in Guangzhou.

Before the opening of the Guangzhou International Health Station, visitors were expected to quarantine in specially designated facilities throughout the city, but these procedures had  a much higher chance of contamination than the almost air-tight procedure that new visitors will face on entry. There’s a good chance that these aggressive measures will prevent the spread of COVID-19 from international travelers, but one might wonder how well the travelers will fare cut off from human contact for two weeks. Let’s hope the facilities are designed to foster health in all areas, physical and mental, otherwise China may not be getting much use out of their new health stations.

Sources: CNN, News.com.au, The Caribbean Alert, CNN

Faith & Science, United in Awe: Notes on Eastern’s First Annual Science and Faith Symposium

On Friday, Oct. 1, Palmer’s First Annual Science and Faith Symposium began. Reverend Zack Jackson welcomed everyone, thanking everyone who made this event possible, especially DoSER, who provided the grant for the program, and Dr. Ron Matthews, Eastern’s president, echoed those thanks and led the room in prayer. 

Eliazer Morales presented his paper on science as a means of worship and recognizing the diversity of worship methods in a congregation. He wrote, “Not every practice in the church must be done the same way, especially when it comes to worship” and that “Taking care of God’s creation by knowing how it functions is another form of worship”. 

The first panel included three professionals in science and religion: Dr. David Bradstreet, an astronomer and professor at Easter, Dr. Peter Enns, a Biblical Studies professor, and Dr. Jonathan Hargis, who is also an astronomer. When Jackson inquired about the  ways your understanding of the cosmos have influenced your theology, Bradstreet replied,“God didn’t just make stuff, he makes it work all the time”and that “science is really the discovery of how God does what He does”. When Enns replied, he focused on how science makes him understand how big God really is, referencing the speed of light. “How can it not affect our theology?” Enns asked. Lastly, Hargis answered, saying, “astronomy gives us this huge sense of awe and wonder of who God is, and it comes with a huge sense of humility”. The panelists also gave inspiring answers regarding interpreting Scripture regarding creation, resistance in faith communities to what scientists are saying, and how finding life outside of Earth would affect our theology.

The keynote speaker on Friday was Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, author, astrophysicist, and director of DoSER. She spoke about her journey to becoming a scientist, saying, “it was my early years of ambling through meadows and exploring streams and loving animals that made me a scientist. If you love nature, then you love science”. The majority of her presentation focused on the tools of science and that way that science touches every part of our lives. 

On Saturday morning, Eastern student Laura Schoenhals read her paper on medicine and faith via video. One particularly meaningful quote stood out to the author: “even when disease reigns supreme for now, still we have hope that ultimately, our Great Physician shall heal not only us and our loved ones, but creation in its entirety.”

Afterwards, the second set of panelists spoke, consisting of Dr. Jennifer Stuart, Rev. Casey Bien-Aime, and Sally Stern. All the panelists spoke about the importance of holistic medicine and were especially salient in discussing how science does not operate in a vacuum. Stern said, “nursing is an art and a science together: the art of compassion and care and the science of using evidence-based practice in your care of them.” Stuart also addresses the “very real history” of African-American distrust of medicine due to trauma and how that impacts her work with congregations on science training. Bien-Aime, speaking from her experience as a hospital chaplain, spoke about the pain she has seen in hospitals, especially in the last eighteen months.

The second speaker, Dr. Devan Stahl, focused her presentation on her experience as a theological bioethicist and especially how we integrate ideas of miracles in the medical community. She explains that people use miracle terminology differently and it’s important to acknowledge that to discern how to respond to people using miracle language. “I worry that our clergy is not talking about these issues enough,” Stahl said.

There was another afternoon set of panels and speakers, but this author was unable to attend. For readers interested in more information, check out Palmer’s website to watch the fully recorded sessions.

AOC’s Met Gala Dress: Did AOC choose the right dress designer?

The Met Gala is known for being one of the biggest events in fashion and isn’t a stranger to controversy. Many celebrities use this publicity-rife event as a chance to leverage their voice, like Billie Eilish, who only agreed to wear Oscar de la Renta if the fashion label went completely fur-free, and she stunned in their Marilyn Monroe-inspired dress. However, other outfits, like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Tax the Rich” dress generated far more discourse on both sides of the aisle.

Many conservatives criticized Ocasio-Cortez on the basis of false claims, accusing her of spending large sums of money to attend the event and buy the dress. However, though tickets for the Met Gala can cost anywhere from $35,000 to $300,000, Ocasio-Cortez was invited along with many other New York elected officials as guests of the museum who do not pay for their ticket. Likewise, the dress was borrowed, not bought. On the other hand, those on the left criticize Ocasio-Cortez for attending at all, given that she was rubbing shoulders with the wealthiest members of American society rather than serving the working-class people she often claims to champion.

I think Ocasio-Cortez knew exactly what she was doing when she wore that dress to the Met Gala. She wanted everyone talking about her dress and her platform, and that’s exactly what happened. To me, that seems like a well-played move, and it’s gutsy for her to walk into the upper echelons of the New York elite and start these kinds of conversations. If she’d paid for the ticket and the dress, I’d agree that that would be hypocritical, but she didn’t. Instead, she took the chance to boost her message and keep conversations that she cared about going. That, I can respect.

However, rumors are circulating that Ocasio-Cortez’s designer, Brother Vellies, may be in hot water regarding their own taxes. British tabloid Daily Mail, along with several other conservative newspapers, claims to have dug up information that indicates the fashion brand still has outstanding tax warrants from before the pandemic, along with six federal liens, meaning that the government has a legal claim against your property when you fail to pay a tax debt. Brother Vellies is not exactly low profile either; while Ocasio-Cortez said on the red carpet that “We really started having a conversation about what it means to be a working class women of color at the Met,” the brand she wore is known for dressing plenty of other celebrities such as Beyoncé, Meghan Markle, Zendaya, Rihanna and Lady Gaga (though it’s worth noting that almost all of these celebrities are women of color). The designer, Aurora James, is a woman of color who founded 15percent Pledge, a nonprofit that asks brands to devote 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands. 

While I respect Ocasio-Cortez’s political move to get people talking about her platform and her political stances, I do think she made a mistake when choosing her designer. Whether or not Brother Vellies does have outstanding tax warrants like several sources claim, the brand is not exactly a low-profile small business, and Ocasio-Cortez does not seem to be supporting the underdog as much as one might hope. As is often the case with controversy, Ocasio-Cortez’s “Tax the Rich” dress is not a black-and-white issue, and the ethical questions raised are worth discussing for people of all political leanings.

Sources: AOC’s ‘Tax the Rich’ dress designer’s firm ran up tax arrears of $130,000 | Daily Mail Online; AOC’s ‘Tax The Rich Dress’ – Ultimate Fashion Statement Or Display Of Hypocrisy (forbes.com); Why A.O.C.’s Met Gala Dress Made People Mad – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Churches in the Area: Check out these church spotlights to find a church in the area that you can call home.

Finding a church as a college student can be a challenge, especially if you’re far from home. Many of us don’t have access to reliable transportation, and some of us have an uncertain relationship to the church we grew up attending. Even if we loved our home church, college is a great time to investigate other denominations and traditions, if only to expand our horizons. I love that Eastern University is home to students from a variety of backgrounds, because I can have conversations about faith with people who experience and worship God in so many diverse ways. 

If you’re searching for a church or just want to try out something new, then this article is for you. Below, I’ll be spotlighting churches in the area from a bunch of different backgrounds, and many of them have Eastern students who attend regularly. If you have questions about how to find a church home, how to get transportation to and from, or anything else faith-related, reach out to the student chaplains in your building! They’re there to help you, and if they don’t have the answer, they can help you get in contact with someone who can.

Note: all transportation times are from Eastern.

 

Wayne United Methodist Church 

Distance: 30 minute walk; 6 minute drive

Denomination/ Tradition: United Methodist

Service times: Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 10:30am

Type of worship: Wayne UMC worships in a mix of traditional and contemporary. They often use hymns and their music relies heavily on piano and voice rather than the full band often found in contemporary churches, but their sermons often focus on modern-day issues.

Communion Type: Wayne UMC is open communion, which means that anyone who calls themselves a Christian can participate. Communion service is offered the first Sunday of every month.

More information: wayneumc.org 

 

Church of the Savior

Distance: 30 minute walk; 5 minute drive. In the past, I believe they’ve done a van shuttle to Eastern, but I would reach out to them to confirm or get details on that.

Denomination/ Tradition: Nondenominational

Service times: 9am and 10:30am on Sundays

Type of worship: Contemporary

Communion Type: All Christians may take communion, but it isn’t offered every week.

More information: coswayne.org 

 

Church of the Good Samaritan

Distance: 17 minute drive

Denomination/ Tradition: Episcopal

Service times: 9am traditional or 11am contemporary

Type of worship: The 9am service is a blend of old and new music, with both organ music and a praise band. The 11am service is more contemporary, focusing on the praise band. Both services follow the liturgy, and about once a month, the dance choir offers a piece of dance.

Communion Type: All baptized Christians are invited to participate

More information: good-samaritan.org 

 

St. Philip’s Orthodox Church

Distance: 35 minute drive

Denomination/ Tradition: Eastern Orthodox (Antiochian)

Service times: 8:45am Orthros and 10am Divine Liturgy

Type of worship: The Orthodox church is highly liturgical and the choir performs entirely a capella. Generally, everyone stands for the majority of the service, and icons and incense are a large part of the worship.

Communion Type: Only members of the Orthodox church may recieve communion. Visitors may be offered blessed bread, which is not considered a sacrament. 

More information: Reach out to the Orthodox Christian Fellowship club on campus or check out st-philip.net 

 

St. Katherine of Siena

Distance: 26 minute walk; 5 minute drive

Denomination/ Tradition: Catholic

Service times: 9:30am and 11:30am

Type of worship: The service is a traditional Catholic mass with accompanied song.

Communion Type: Non-Catholics may not receive the Eucharist.

More information: stkatherineofsiena.org

Remembering 9/11: An Eastern staff member recalls how students and staff alike reacted to the tragedy.

On September 11 2021, I attended the 20th anniversary ceremony at the Flight 93 Memorial. Family members of the passengers and the former Architect of the Capitol took turns reading the names of the heroes that day, and remarks were made by Captain David Kurtz of the USS Somerset, (named in honor of Somerset County, Pennsylvania where the plane went down),  US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Former President George W. Bush, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Gordon Felt, brother of passenger Edward Felt. Their speeches paid tribute to those who on that day sacrificed their lives so that others may live and also warned about how risks to our nation not only come from the outside but also from within.

Even now, twenty years later, the memory of the day itself is clear in my mind. I started work at Eastern in 1999 and was on campus the day of the attacks. 

I was working at the circulation desk in the library at the time. Around 9 a.m. my supervisor’s wife called and asked to speak to her husband. I overheard him ask something about a bomb. After he hung up, he walked over to me and said, “Terrorists just bombed the World Trade Center”. Details were still sketchy and he had thought someone managed to reach the upper floors. I attempted to reach several news websites to find out more, but due to the massive number of people accessing them, all the sites I tried to access were overloaded, and a few of them were down.   

Knowing the Walton lounge had a television, I asked my supervisor if I could be excused. When I got there, people were gathered around watching events unfold. Students walking down from the dining commons, unaware of what was going on, were chatting happily with friends and noticed all the distraught people watching the television. Once they realized what happened, the  expression on their faces changed. By this time, both towers had been hit. Virtually every channel, both on the radio and television, cancelled their regular programming to run coverage of the attacks. 

I returned to the Walton lounge and saw news of the Pentagon being hit coming on CNN’s ticker, and I was there later when the towers fell; a number of students began to hold hands and join each other in prayer and others broke down in tears. 

Then came the announcement that classes had been cancelled for the remainder of the day. That night, an impromptu prayer vigil was held on the ball field. University Chaplain, Joe Modica spoke to me recently saying, Simply, our entire community on the St. Davids campus gathered on the men’s baseball field for prayer and support at around noon after all classes and events were canceled. Hundreds of people gathered with many tears, worries and confusion. We prayed as a large group as well as in smaller groups. It lasted for about an hour (I think)”.

I did not attend the service on campus as I went to my local church instead. At the end of the service the pastor announced that, despite all the day’s events, he would conduct his benediction in the usual manner. His concern about how people may react to him saying “render to no person evil for evil” in light of what happened was understandable.

In the aftermath, Tony Campolo, who had been scheduled to give a Windows on the World presentation that Friday, was forced to reschedule it until the spring semester as he was out of the country and unable to return home due to all civilian air traffic in the country being shut down. 

Now, most, if not all of our students were not born yet or were too young to remember that day.  It is my hope that these students will now have some insight about how some members of Eastern’s community responded to the day’s events.