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Advent & Christmas at Aquinas

As Advent begins and the Christmas holiday season nears, the Aquinas College community will be celebrating with a series of festive events.

Kicking off this year’s celebration is the traditional Christmas tree lighting on Thursday, December 5. Hosted this year by AQ Programming Board, this annual, ceremonious event will be held on Holmdene Lawn at 7 p.m. Fr. Stan Drongowski will be present to bless the tree and campus community.

Campus Ministry will be present throughout Advent to prepare our campus community for Christmas. In addition to weekly, Advent masses on Sunday nights, an on-campus directed retreat is being held December 2 through 4, in which students may participate without missing class or work. Signups were held prior to Thanksgiving break, and participants have committed to 30 minutes for personal prayer and 30 minutes to meet with a spiritual companion each day of the week. Members of the Campus Ministry staff, including Fr. Stan Drongowski, Mary Clark-Kaiser, Terry Marshall, and Kathleen Lally, will serve as spiritual companions for the retreat.

Along with the tree, the many musical talents of AQ students will also be on display throughout December. On Monday, December 2, "Double A'Peal: A Joint Christmas Concert" will take place in Kretschmer Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. The free event features the combined talents of the AQ Valenti Handbell Ensemble and the Campana Handbell Ensemble. The two groups will share the stage under the direction of Stephanie Wiltse, director of the AQ Valenti Handbell Ensemble.

The following Sunday, December 8 at 5 p.m. the music department will lead "A Service of Lessons and Carols" at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church (1449 Wilcox Park Drive, Grand Rapids) to sing in the new, wintry season. According to Associate Professor of Music, Barbara McCargar, the Chamber Choir, Valenti Handbell Ensemble and the Aquinas Chorus will combine Christmas carols with congregational singing as they continue their on-going tradition under the direction of Larry G. Biser, Stephanie Wiltse and Dr. Mark Webb.

Campus Dining will also be partaking in the holiday festivities. On Thursday, December 12, AQ Dining will be hosting its traditional Christmas Dinner at Wege Café. Aquinas staff will be on hand to serve the dinner and take part in the delicious event. In addition, the Moose Café will have mocha and peppermint drink specials throughout the month of December, while the Corner Café will have a collection box for food items and bags to decorate for Kids’ Food Basket, as well as for D.A. Blodgett, St. John’s Home.

On Sunday, December 15, the talents of the Aquinas Music Department will be showcased during their annual Christmas Concert in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) at 3 p.m. This year the College Band, the College Chorus, Chamber Strings, Guitar Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Valenti Handbell Ensemble, Chamber Choir, the Women’s Corus, Flute Ensemble, and small wind and vocal groups will serenade or strum to audiences as Santa joins in with a sing-a-long song. A reception will be hosted in the PAC lobby and all guests are encouraged to enjoy some cookies before leaving.

Also on December 15, a special mass will be held in Bukowski Chapel at 8 p.m. In addition to celebrating the third Sunday of Advent, a blessing of travelers will take place as we near the end of the semester and students prepare to journey home. ABANDON, an Aquinas praise and worship student music group, will lead this Mass in song.