Letter to the Editor: Regarding the patens debacle

Madeleine Van Haute

Layout Editor

Student Government has continuously fought for patens throughout this past year, and although the conversation ended about a month ago, I don’t think this conversation ended the way it should have.

To recap this “epic” conquest, Senator Bridget Whoriskey submitted Fall Bill 20, which requested the use of patens at all campus Masses, to the senate at the end of September. She was then told to speak to the Rev. Shawn Roberson, TOR, university chaplain, about the bill.

According to a previous Troubadour article recapping the FUSG meeting on October 5, Roberson said that “using patens at all Masses would be difficult because the number of altar servers present would have to be doubled.” Another argument that was brought up against the use of patens was that it would not logistically work in Finnegan Fieldhouse.

The friars’ last word on the patens proposal was that the school should not implement the use of patens due to the fact that they currently do not have a widespread use in the Church.

If this is the argument being used, one can also argue that the belief in the true presence of the Eucharist isn’t widespread either. According to Pew Research Center, “roughly one-third (37%)” of Catholics truly believe in Transubstantiation.

Secondly, Franciscan University’s slogan is that it is “academically excellent and passionately Catholic.” There are a multitude of universities that can claim that they too are academically excellent, but it’s the passionately Catholic aspect that brings attention to Franciscan. How many other universities can truthfully market that?

I mention the school’s slogan because, as a marketing major, I strongly believe that a company or institution should live out its slogan to the best of its ability. Not doing that could cause a great number of difficulties concerning the organization’s public image.

In all honesty, I have no strong opinion on the presence of patens. I think that if we have the ability to use patens in Mass, we absolutely should because they are reverent. But right now my problem lies with the fact that we as the student body accepted the answer that we shouldn’t do something just because other people aren’t doing it.

As a passionately Catholic university, we are seen as leaders in the Catholic community, not followers. So why should we not support the idea of patens in the Mass? The whole purpose of a paten is to protect the Eucharist during communion distribution.

Mr. Jared Johnson did a fantastic job fully explaining the importance of patens in his recent publication in The Gauntlet. One could argue that patens are not just a reverence but a necessity. If we are going to call ourselves passionately Catholic, I don’t understand how one could not endorse this proposal. In fact, I am shocked that Student Government has had to fight this hard for such a request.

Why are we not living up to the standards we have set for ourselves as a community? I understand that we are human and we are going to have our downfalls, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t try.

By supporting and implementing the use of patens, we are only demonstrating that this school is truly passionately Catholic and encouraging the rest of the Catholic community to be the same. As leaders in the Catholic community, we should be challenging the Church to be steadfast and continually live out the faith. We shouldn’t accept the way that things are and just leave it at that when we have the power to change them for the better.

The use of patens used to be normal and expected. Patens were not just excluded from the Mass overnight; someone started that trend and it grew over time to where we are now. Why can we not reverse that and begin renormalizing reverence towards the Eucharist? The school literally has patens sitting somewhere on campus just collecting dust. What is truly stopping us?