Kellen Stepler | Editor-in-Chief
Duquesne students and staff gathered on Rooney Field for the second “Prayer for Unity” event on Monday night.
University chaplain Rev. Bill Christy opened the session, offering to “have this time of prayer before we go on Thanksgiving break.”
After a prayer, Christy read a passage of the Bible from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, where Paul talks about putting on humility, kindness and perfection. He was also reminding people about their baptism, and putting on their baptismal robes.
“When we were called for this day of prayer, I thought: uniforms,” Christy said. “We put on our uniforms, we put on our equipment, we prepare ourselves. And what a perfect image for athletes in prayer. You prepare what you put on. And then you perform.”
As the community prepares for the celebration of Thanksgiving, Christy asked the attendees to put on a spirit of gratitude and a spirit of thanksgiving, just as athletes do when they put on equipment and uniforms.
Anthony Kane, director of Duquesne’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, had a simple message of encouragement for everyone: to be kind.
“Be kind to one another,” Kane said. “Be kind to those whom you may be departing from for a few weeks. Be kind to the people in your life who you may feel have not necessarily supported you as much as you need it, but most importantly, be kind to yourself.”
He noted the unprecedented nature that 2020 has brought.
“We could not have prepared for the challenges that this year has presented to us,” Kane said. “So I ask you to be kind to yourself as you reflect on what challenges you’ve faced this year. Be kind to yourself as you reflect to what oppositions you have faced this year, but be kind to yourself as you celebrate all that you’ve overcome, and all that you’ll continue to overcome.”
The best thing about 2020, Kane said, is that it has taught everyone to be resilient.
“It has taught us to overcome adversity in moments in which we did not know that we could,” he said. “Share compassion with one another. Celebrate, and be excited in the spaces in which you are present.”
Pete Chase, who will take the role of campus minister of Crossroads Christian Fellowship in the spring, told a story of himself in 2006, outside Vickroy Hall during his sophomore year, where he felt overwhelmed and angry — reflective of the cold, dark weather outside.
“The year had been pretty hard already,” Chase said. “I really felt like I had no direction. I didn’t know why I was in the major I was in. I had a pretty significant relationship that was obviously approaching an endpoint, and on top of that, I had finals next week.”
He said that an older and wiser man outside of Vickroy Hall gave him advice “that he won’t ever forget.”
“The older and wiser man said to me, ‘Peter, you have to cultivate an attitude of gratitude,’” Chase said.
2020 has been that kind of a year, Chase said, and asked the attendees if they were experiencing peace.
“Thankfulness, as it turns out, is the key to peace,” Chase said. “Thankfulness is actually … one of the few things designed to get you through those challenges.”
He cited clinical trials out of University of California Berkeley that suggest the practice of gratitude increases happiness, lessens the chances of depression and alters the way an individual’s brain processes data.
“Literally, your body was made to practice thankfulness. Like the muscles of your body are made to be trained to perform in the world through exercise and become stronger and accomplish great feats,” he said. “Thankfulness is a muscle made to perform and be exercised, and by using it, the world accomplishes great feats.”
Chase encouraged everyone to practice an attitude of gratitude, “as silly as the rhyme is.”
The Prayer for Unity service is a series of monthly prayers for unity sponsored by Duquesne’s athletic department. Christy hopes that December’s service will be broadcast on YouTube.