Founder’s Week celebrates Spiritans 150 year of ministry

Courtesy of Spiritan Campus Ministries | The Spiritans' anniversary theme follows an important part of their mission: "Led by the Spirit."

Zachary Petroff | staff writer

Jan. 27, 2022 

Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of Spiritans in the US. The annual celebration known as Founder’s Week, kicks off Monday, January 31st and concludes Friday, Feb. 4. 

For those unfamiliar with the Spiritans or their history, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit is a religious congregation of the Catholic Church. Founded in 1703 by Claude-Francois Poullart des Places under the patronage of Mary, the Spirtians set out to create an environment to support students on their way to the priesthood and to help the poor.

As of today, Duquesne University is the only Spirtian institution of higher education in the world.

The Spiritans are a unique order of the Catholic Church as they are focused on serving the needs of the least fortunate, often through service ethnography. Reverend Bill Christy, Director of Campus Ministry and University Chaplin, said that he thinks that the focus on serving is one of the essential calling cards of the Spiritan mission.

“When we come the Spirit has preceded us, so learning the language, learning the culture, learning where God has been present in these peoples’ lives is very important,” Christy said.

This type of servitude allows Spiritans to immerse themselves in the community which provides a particular insight and growth for the Spiritan. The 150-year event is a celebration of the work that the Spiritans have accomplished along with an appreciation of the history of the Spirtians and Duquesne University. 

The history of this religious order is very important to the current Spiritans’ message.

“By sharing that history, it allows [the student body] to have faith in the past,” Christy said, “They’ll have hope in the future, and if they have hope in the future, then they can reach out to each other in love right now.”

The theme for Founders’ Week, “Led by the Spirit Where the Need is Greatest,” is tied closely to the third Spiritan charism that emphasizes the evangelization of the poor. Unlike themes in the past, this year’s Founders Week mirrors the mission of the Spiritan tradition. 

Those looking to contribute can visit one of the daily Founder’s Week events and donate granola bars, fruit cups, small individual bags of chips or small individual bags of cookies. All the items will be donated to Red Door, a ministry for the homeless in Downtown Pittsburgh.  

One of the highlights for this year’s Founder’s Week will be the return of the “Interview and Lunch with a Spiritan.” On Thursday, Feb. 3, participants will be able to hear from the U.S .Provincial Father and former director of campus ministry Father Don McEachin. 

The week-long celebration will also include activities such as making Mason Jar Lights, a feast on Feast Day and an “Evening of Flights’” where attendees can enjoy a flight of beers and hors d’ouevrs while they speak with the Spiritans about their work at home and abroad. 

Dr. Luci-Jo Dimaggio, Director of Mission Animation, is looking forward to the return of in-person activities and the revival of the “Lunch with a Spiritan” event.

“In its essence it’s a celebratory week and I would love for people to come and just relax a bit, learn something, have some good food – have a meal on us and celebrate who we are as a university,” Dimaggio said.  

Information and registration for the events can be found on Duquesne website as well as Campus Link.