The University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana has designated a portion of the academic day as “Sacred Time” on its campus. Endorsed by Bishop Kevin Rhoades and the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, the university’s founders and sponsors, the Sacred Time initiative is the first of its kind in U.S. Catholic higher education. It enables students and employees to participate in Mass or to engage in personal spiritual practices in keeping with their respective traditions.
“The institution of the Sacred Time policy at the University of Saint Francis is a strong affirmation of its mission and a very concrete means for members of the university community to cultivate and deepen their spiritual lives,” said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend. “In the busy and often hectic world of our daily life, we need quiet time and space for prayer and reflection. I am grateful that the University of Saint Francis recognizes this need through this initiative which demonstrates the conviction that the academic life is enriched, not diminished, by openness to the transcendent, a deeper understanding of the Word of God, and prayer.”
The University of Saint Francis encourages a trustful, prayerful community of learners who integrate faith with life. As a Catholic, Franciscan university, this necessitates providing opportunities to practice the faith through participation in Mass, the sacraments, and religious devotions. In recognizing the Eucharist as the most perfect act of community worship, the university provides Sacred Time to ensure that both student and employee participation is practically feasible, given scheduling limitations and available resources.
“We understand how demanding each day can be for our students who are busily moving from class to class and for our staff as they support our students,” said USF President Sister M. Elise Kriss. “Sacred Time gives everyone a chance to slow down, to become more conscious of their spiritual needs, and to just see and feel God around them on a daily basis, which can truly help make the rest of the day less stressful and overwhelming.”
Sacred Time occurs for 30 minutes on weekdays and one hour each Sunday, when Mass is celebrated at the USF Main Campus. During Sacred Time, regardless of participation, no on-campus university-sponsored activities are scheduled for or by students or employees.
“The Sacred Time policy is one more way USF commits itself to students’ and employees’ spiritual nourishment,” said USF Campus Ministry Director Scott Opperman, “and it enhances our Catholic, Franciscan identity. Given the complications of scheduling classes, meetings, and activities, Sacred Time is innovative and bold. It reveals our priorities. Everything else is scheduled around Mass, not vice versa, which is the norm.”