Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Address

The following is a transcript of the address given by President James T. Harris III at the annual USD Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 2, 2019

"Welcome to our third annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Thank you to this evening’s Master of Ceremonies, Greyson (GRAY-sun) Taylor, vice president of our Associated Student Government. On behalf of the University of San Diego, it’s my pleasure to welcome our students, faculty and staff. I’d also like to welcome our neighbors from the Linda Vista community — including our friends from:

• Linda Vista Elementary School
• Carson Elementary School
• San Diego Cooperative Charter School
• Montgomery Middle School; and
• Access Community Center

We consider you all to be members of our Torero family. Thank you for being here to mark this campus tradition and holy season. Thank you also to our student representatives, Marion, Andrea and Madison, for their heartfelt reflections. And finally, I would like to take a moment thank the Cook-Castro Family and the ‘Live Like Kayla’ Foundation for donating this year’s magnificent Christmas tree. Please extend a warm welcome to Allison Cook Castro and her family who are here celebrating with us today.

Yesterday marked the beginning of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. In The Immaculata Church and in Founders Chapel, we lit the first of four candles in our Advent wreaths. The Advent wreath is full of symbolism. The wreath itself — a never-ending circle — signifies continuous life, the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul and the everlasting love we find in Jesus Christ. The first candle of the season, sometimes known as the Prophesy Candle, represents hope. The second candle, often called the Bethlehem Candle, represents faith. The third candle, also known as the Shepherd’s Candle, represents joy. And the fourth candle, known as the Angel’s Candle, represents peace.

As an engaged, contemporary Catholic university our faith tradition inspires us to bring hope to the people and the communities we serve. And each year, the faculty, staff and students at USD contribute more than 400,000 public service hours globally in cooperation with more than 148 partners from around the world. In all that we do, we look for ways to bring to life our faith tradition through our dedication to:

• the life and dignity of each person;
• our solidarity as one human family;
• our care for God’s creation;
• our call to serve family and community;
• the dignity and rights of workers;
• service to the poor and vulnerable; and
• the rights, duties and responsibilities we have to one another, to our families and to the greater society; So many members of our campus community know well how to bring joy to this world, and to help spread joy by making a difference in places near and far.

So, on this spectacular evening, which marks the second day of Advent, may we all keep hope, faith, joy and peace in our hearts this holiday season. And may it be the inspiration for all that we do — not just during Advent, but every day And throughout the year to come. Toreros, on this beautiful December night, it is time for all to shine!"