DeSmet Residence Hall/Gonzaga Photo

Priest continues to lead Mass for GU dorm residents

Guest article by Sean Dorsey

A spark is dramatically ignited as a small candle is lit amidst a room full of silence. The priest sits, contently reflecting within his chair behind a table of simple wood. Five to 10 men are present, surrounding the altar in a circle of contemplation and silence, creating an atmosphere of respect and reverence.

Quietly, the priest raises his head and says, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

Together, the group responds collectively, “Amen,” as the Mass officially begins.

The Rev. Kevin Waters/Gonzaga photo
The Rev. Kevin Waters/Gonzaga photo

The Rev. Kevin Waters has served as dormitory priest of DeSmet Residence Hall at Gonzaga University for more than 30 years. In the first year of his ongoing three-decade journey, Waters made the decision to offer students the opportunity to attend Mass within the residence hall each Sunday.

Beginning at 8 p.m., as little as three to as many as 20 men join together to develop and strengthen their Catholic faith. Until an increase of students called for its closure and renovation, Mass was commonly held in the dormitory chapel. Today the residents of DeSmet are forced to adjust, assembling in the lower level basement to celebrate the sacrament.

DeSmet Residence Hall is regarded as a building of family and community, commonly seen through a combination of athletics, education, and most notably, brotherhood. Few are often aware of the spiritual bond and relationship of its residents, including the daily presence of Waters throughout its halls.

The influence of this Mass is not only a result of Waters’ commitment to its continuation, but the purpose and depth of his words throughout the service.

Freshman George Kunthara explains, “I honestly enjoy the homily of Father. He’s one of the reasons I go.”

The location and environment is thought to be ideal and a contributing factor to Father’s purpose and ultimate success with those present each Sunday, creating a “very personable level of practice,” says resident Andrew Zender.

Waters strongly believes in the benefit of “…active participation, where no one can hide in the back.”

The unique area of the lower basement creates a setting of intimacy and familiarity, which cannot be replicated within the formal atmosphere of another building. Within such a group experience, Waters explains, “students pray together and ultimately form a prayerful community.”

First created with the intention to provide an opportunity, Sunday Mass within DeSmet Residence Hall has consistently offered a place centered in faith, prayer, and community. On campus today, students are given the ability to develop as a whole person: intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. For freshman and sophomore residents of DeSmet, Waters continues to provide the opportunity to ultimately grow in relationship with God and others each and every Sunday.

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