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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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Office of the President hosts celebration honoring Father Jenkins

Community comes together to celebrate Fr. Jenkins’ retirement

After 19 years of service, University President Fr. John Jenkins will be stepping down this May to resume teaching and ministry roles within the University after a one-year sabbatical. To celebrate his retirement and thank students, the Office of the President hosted a celebration on South Quad Thursday evening.

Students expressed their appreciation for the event and Jenkins’ presidency.

“I think the event went really well and I think Fr. Jenkins is a really good guy and we’re sad to see him go but we appreciate everything that he’s done,” Makeda Grimaud, a freshman neuroscience student said.

See our photo gallery of the events here.

The event began with a mass at 5:15 p.m., led by Jenkins himself. Following the mass, current and former student body presidents Dawson Kiser and Daniel Jung presented Jenkins with a gift — a mosaic of the University’s dome crafted from photographs capturing his tenure as president.

“I think Fr. Jenkins has been a solid leader for 19 years and brought the University to the very great place that we have here today,” Caleb Vaughan, a freshman chemical engineering student said. 

Assistant vice president of campus ministry Fr. Pete McCormick attended the event and shared his thoughts on the evening’s celebration, praising Jenkins. 

“When I think about this event, I think about it as classic Fr. John Jenkins. John does not want to make it about himself at all. He wants to make it entirely about the students. And to me, this speaks about the leader that he is always putting other people forward,” McCormick said. “With all that John is, he beautifully led Notre Dame in a way that allowed for other people to take ownership and lead as well, he never made it entirely about himself. He always played an important role, which was his but at the same time, he empowered others, not only professional staff, but also students.”

Food trucks lined the quad, offering free food from a diverse array of cuisines ranging from tacos to macaroni and cheese and ice cream. Complimentary mugs with Jenkins’ name and years of tenure printed on them were also handed out to students.

“This was a great break from the dining hall and should happen more often,” freshman Campbell Smith said. 

The tents and long wooden tables on South Quad provided a communal setting for attendees to gather. The events were interrupted at points by pro-Palestinian protesters marching on South Quad; however, these protesters largely confined themselves to the far end of the quad near Morrissey Manor and were drowned out by the noise of the speakers.

Students and guests expressed their gratitude for Jenkins and their thoughts on the events.  

“Fr. John Jenkins should retire every day because this is the best day of my life,” freshman Dominick Russo said. 

Following a picnic-style feast, the festivities continued with the arrival of hundreds of pizzas. Accompanied by the music of DJs Christian Martinez and Bootzhedj, the crowd danced into the night, celebrating Father Jenkins’ legacy with joyous abandon.

“I really liked the music, my friends and I were just saying that it might be better than some of the parties and dances that we have been to so far,” freshman Lucia Reynoso said. 

The evening culminated in a ten-minute display of fireworks above campus, with the DJ booth providing the soundtrack. The fireworks were launched from the nearby golf course. The final notes of the alma mater played, and the fireworks fizzled out, signaling the end of the celebration honoring Jenkins’ retirement.