Toledo Bishop focuses on student faith during finals

Toledo’s Bishop, Leonard Blair will lead students in the Advent Ballroom Mass this weekend as students prepare for finals week.

The mass begins at 7:30 p.m. and will end around 9:30 p.m. this Sunday and focuses on University students.

Blair has been Toledo’s Bishop since 2003 and has always shown interest in students and their faith.

“He is very dedicated to students,” said Lauren Proshek, who works for the Campus Catholic Missionary at the University. “He is always trying to serve them and their needs, and focus on the relationship between students and Christ.”

Jason Blahnik, Catholic minister, said the students are the reason that the Ballroom Mass has become an annual event for nearly 30 years.

“Since the students won’t be here for Christmas, it’s our celebration for them,” he said.

The celebration is part of a series of Advent services during the four weeks leading to Christmas. Proshek said the services are conducted all over the world with every Catholic church reading the same scriptures and delivering the same message to its audience. This week’s scriptures focus on entering into the glory of the Lord, she said.

The event’s organizers expect over 600 people from the University and community and plan a student-run segment.

“At the beginning we are doing an interesting thing on darkness in students’ lives. We will be looking at doubt, loneliness and relationships,” Blahnik said. “Students who are preparing to become Catholic will be speaking about these issues.”

Students are also involved with music for the event with several choir, band and orchestra members participating. Another highlight of the night is liturgical movement at the beginning of the event and an African dance.

Junior Melissa Flecher attended the event two years ago, and will be playing the piano during this year’s mass.

“It was just a great experience to see so many Catholic students together,” she said. “When you’re in college, your friends are your second family, and it’s important to celebrate this time of year with your family.”

The music, Flecher said, will be a mix of traditional and contemporary songs, and will start a half-hour before the service begins.

While the Catholic church directs the service, Proshek said that non-Catholics are more than welcome to come.

“It will be a great event and a big one. And I hope the University students come out. We will be able to take some of the hardships the students are having and shed some light on them,” she said.