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Inaugural Tree Lighting Ceremony Brightens the Night

 

Inaugural Tree Lighting Ceremony Brightens the Night

When darkness arrived not long after 5 p.m. on the University of San Diego campus Tuesday, a new tradition was created to light up the night.

Tree Lighting Ceremony 2017

Hundreds in the campus community, including USD President James T. Harris and Associated Students President and senior Will Tate, gathered near the Paseo de Colachis Overlook area to witness a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, traditional carolers, Christmas-style refreshments and a blessing from Msgr. Daniel Dillabough to usher in the holiday season. Furthermore, two huge blue, Adirondack-style chairs were introduced and became an instant photo opportunity.

"At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a savior whose light shines upon us all," President Harris said. "And, in turn, our light must shine before others in the glory of God. Toreros, it's time for us all to shine."

With those words, the large Christmas tree's lights turned on, including a bright shining star at the very top. The moment was amplified by the fact that the audience was already holding lit candles.

"Tonight, it’s about coming together in community to celebrate the holiday season, but tonight is about much more than that," Tate said. "It is also about coming together and bringing light to our campus and to our world. When I think about the theme of tonight's event, ‘Light Out of Darkness,’ I think about the people who've dedicated their life to justice, peace and mercy."

Novien Yarber, a USD graduate student and graduate assistant for Associated Students, offered a supportive perspective. "In many ways, this ceremony is recognizing and acknowledging the light we each possess inside of us and the need to be dedicating ourselves to sharing that light with one another. The candles you're holding are a symbol of being called to a higher purpose, to be a positive influence, to advocate for equality and true changemaking that bring light to the darkness on campus and in the world."

President Harris offered some words of hope, too. "It seems like all the chaos and trouble of the world melt away as we make ourselves truly present in this moment of beauty, goodness and truth."

The tree lighting ceremony, put on by University Ministry and the Torero Program Board, served as a lead-in for the latter's hosting of the annual Winter Wonderland on the Immaculata/Maher Lawn area to keep students in the holiday mood.

But in a year filled with increased divisiveness and natural disasters such as hurricanes and fires wreaking havoc on residents in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Texas, Florida and beyond, Tate insisted on the importance of togetherness through the toughest of times.

"I ask that you grow deeper in your understanding of what it means to love one another," he said. "The message of Christmas is that no matter how dark things may get or seem, God can find a way to bring forth light out of darkness. I invite you all to join me in bringing forth light and joy to the world."

— Ryan T. Blystone 

Photo slideshow by Nick Abadilla Photography

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