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The Gibbons Globe

The Gibbons Globe

A Closer Look Behind the Beauty of Junior Mass


Junior Mass – we’ve all heard of it.

 Juniors get dressed up and go to the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. Some bring rings. Some don’t. We see Jostens selling the rings in the cafeteria: stone-cut rings from every color of the rainbow, sprinkled across a white-clothed table. We scroll through the photos on Instagram to see eager juniors posing with their families, friends, and teachers, showcasing their metallic milestones like an engagement photoshoot. But what is Junior Mass really? 

Why juniors? 

Why a mass? 

Why rings? 

So many unknowns are left out in the open about one of Gibbons’ most sacred traditions. 

“Junior Mass is a tradition older than us.” -Mike Rogosich, Dean of Culture, Cardinal Gibbons

The concept of receiving a class ring was born in 1835, at West Point Military Academy. Upon graduation, student cadets would acquire a ring, symbolizing the unity and community that follows, even after they turn over the tassel. By the twentieth century, this tradition bloomed all across the United States. 

By junior year, students were to receive a class ring, marking the near end of their high school experience. Like many, this once-cherished tradition faded into the cobwebs of the past and is no longer commonly performed throughout high schools today. About 70 years ago, Gibbons reclaimed this custom, shaking off the dust, and stepping this refurbished tradition into dawn. Junior Mass was born. 

This year, Junior Mass, a tradition held at Gibbons since at least the 1950s, took place on Nov. 9. It was the first time the entirety of the 400-person junior class was all together under one singular roof at the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. As Catholics, many defining moments of faith take place during mass. The first of the seven sacraments, baptism, takes place in mass. Communion, receiving Eucharist for the first time, takes place in mass, and confirmation, marriage, etc, all take place during mass. These pivotal events symbolize transitional periods as a Catholic, similar to the transition from high school to adulthood. This past Thursday, juniors gathered together in a mass, commemorating the halfway point of their junior year and their upcoming role as seniors; a fleeting semester away. 

The congregation assembled tightly in the light wood cedar pews. The mass begins just like any other typical mass. Hymns are sung, prayers are read, the sermon is told, the Eucharist is given, and so on. But there is one exception: the blessing of the rings. Toward the end of the mass, Father Luke blesses the class rings facing the front of the congregation, previously collected by Mr. Rogosich. Traditionally, most people obtain rings, but that isn’t always the case. In recent years, the statistics have shifted, and nearly half of the junior body now blesses different objects. Objects like family heirlooms, pictures, necklaces – and even swords – are all blessed in the Cathedral. 

Anna Morelli, class of 2024, even had her great-grandmother’s recipe book blessed during the 2022 Junior Mass.

To answer the question stated earlier, “What is Junior Mass really?” Rings, blessing of objects, getting dressed up, taking pictures with family, etc, are all parts of Junior Mass.

But the heart of the tradition is about community; getting together to remember who we are as Gibbons students, who we are as Catholics, and who we want to be after we graduate. 

The mass closes with the blessing of an object (traditionally a ring), that you carry after you leave the walls of Cardinal Gibbons, through college, and after that. 

The real question isn’t, “What is Junior Mass?” 

The real question is, after Junior Mass, “Who are you going to be?”

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About the Contributor
Charlotte Leach
Charlotte Leach, Reporter
Hi! My name is Charlotte Leach. I am a sophomore and this is my first year working on the Gibbons Globe. I have always loved writing and ever since I could remember English has been my favorite class. I love this school and am excited to start writing stories about and for our community. I hope everyone has a great school year and loves these stories as much as I know I will.