Reflections & Prayers


“[Jesus] knew that the struggle for truth, community, justice, implied persecution and death, but it was in that surrender that the greatest miracle took place: the resurrection. Continuous life and love, despite everything and everyone.

In this frame of reflection, sitting in the gardens of the university and with a magnificent sun, I started to think – if Jesus were physically present in this 2022 – where would he be? In which margins would he be located? In the Tenderloin? In Syria? At the border between Mexico and the United States? In a rural community in Latin America? In the Ukraine? In the Mediterranean Sea on small boats helping migrants out? 

Where would he be? 

What would be the abundance Jesus would be fighting for?” 

– Ana Karen Barragán, Resident Minister and CEL Doctoral Student

In her 2022 lay reflection, Ana Karen asks an important question. Where would Jesus be today? In what communities would he be serving? Our Catholic Jesuit institutional roots call us to become aware of the struggles and injustices present in our world. Our commitment to social justice follows the example of Jesus who was unafraid to stand up against the social structures of oppression prevalent in his day. As students, faculty, and staff at a Jesuit institution, we are called to think far beyond ourselves and to respond to the challenges of this world in ways that challenge the status quo. Over 2000 years after Jesus flipped tables in the temple, are we flipping tables in our own way too? Read Ana Karen’s complete reflection.

The work of spiritual renewal lies at the heart of social justice and transformation. At this time when our community faces so many threats to human dignity and peace, the ways in which we engage in prayer and reflection individually and with one another strengthens our hope, vision, and resistance to injustice.

The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues through Holy Week before Easter Sunday. Lent is a time of year when Christians throughout the world seek spiritual growth through a renewed commitment to prayer, almsgiving, reflection, and service. Lent offers an opportunity to dedicate new time to nourish our spiritual lives, seeking strength and wisdom for our life journeys and shared commitment to justice in our world.

To support your spiritual journeys, University Ministry offers programs to all USF community members. Please consider taking part in one or more of these activities — open to those of all faiths:

  • Ash Wednesday Ash distributions
  • Lenten Footprints via Zoom with Richard Alvia
  • Outdoor Stations of the Cross led by Fr. Donal Godfrey, SJ
  • Virtual Stations of the Cross

VIRTUAL Stations of the Cross 

Prepared and narrated by Angélica Quiñónez, Associate Director, University Ministry.


Holy Week

Lent Image 

Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday (March 24) and ends with the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) leading up to the joyful celebration of Easter (March 31). Despite our physical distancing, UM offers ways to connect with one another during this most holy of weeks for Catholics and Christians worldwide. We invite all members of the USF community to join us virtually for prayer and reflection as we walk with Jesus through his passion, death, and resurrection. Thank you to our students, UM staff, members of the Jesuit community and the St. Ignatius Parish staff, who have created virtual prayer and liturgy opportunities to share with the USF community.

Previous Holy Week Reflections

Palm Sunday
By Victoria Bautista

God is with me, but more, God is within me.
Let me dwell for a moment on God's life-giving presence
in my body, in my mind, in my heart,
as I am here, right now.

This Holy Week prayer resonates with me this year as I know that God is with me more than ever through a time of uncertainty. I put my trust in God's hands when it comes to financial and mental stability. I know that through these difficult times, God is always with me and supporting me and my loved ones. I am reflecting on my safety as the pandemic happens around the world and how this prayer relates to that. I can relate to the followers of Jesus in today’s gospel who called out, “Hosanna,” which in the original Hebrew means “Save Us.” I am also reflecting on my ability to be back home and safe here in Southern California. I recognize my privilege to be able to be healthy and home while I keep others who don't have this privilege in my heart. I will be reflecting on the safety of others in communities who don't have access to services that are needed to protect themselves against the coronavirus. The meaning of Holy Week for me this year is that I can lean on my USF community in celebrating Holy Week alongside me, and for support during these interesting times. I know that we can come together to provide support to the people around us and stand in solidarity.

Victoria Bautista

Victoria Bautista '20 (she/her/hers) is an advertising major and student leader in University Ministry.

Monday of Holy Week
By Maria Sevilla

As Holy Week approaches, we are all called to contemplate the death and resurrection of Jesus
Christ. This year, in light of the COVID-19 concerns, it is important to remember the true
meaning of Holy Week. Much like our current situation, despite difficult situations and even
death, God is a symbol of new life and hope. Holy Week reminds us of the extent of God’s love
and that suffering and sacrifice are sometimes a part of our journey. However, during this time it is also important to follow Jesus’ example and support those most marginalized in our society
since they are the ones most vulnerable to this pandemic. Jesus’s sacrifice calls us in the most
radical way to love our neighbor, to treat each other with kindness and respect, especially in
times of great fear or uncertainty.

Maria Sevilla ‘20 (she/her/hers) is a Senior Politics major and marketing assistant for University Ministry.

Tuesday of Holy Week
By Alina Reyes

To me, Holy Week is a time of introspective reflection to deepen my understanding of both the reasons we sacrifice and the ways in which we can live a life of love and service given the cards we are dealt with. The second reading on Holy Saturday tells the story of Abraham, who is ready to sacrifice his son because God tells him to, demonstrating Abraham’s selflessness and willingness to serve. This Holy Week, despite everything going on in the world, I am very fortunate to have a roof over my head, the opportunity to continue my education, and a job that I love. It’s so important now more than ever to recognize my place in all of this and make sacrifices in my own life to serve God’s people. Little sacrifices I can make include following the shelter-in-place order by staying home and social distancing. While I cannot sacrifice my time and physically serve the community, I can still support those who are by donating supplies to healthcare professionals that are on the frontline risking their lives and making bigger sacrifices than myself. We are called this Lenten season to do our part, big or small, to serve God’s people with love in the way that Christ did for us.

Picture of Alina Reyes smiling with plants in the background

Alina Reyes ‘22 (she/her/hers) is a sophomore politics major at USF and a student assistant in the University Ministry office.

Wednesday of Holy Week
By Brandon Ramirez

In my short life, there are many experiences that I have gone through in life. For good or bad, each instance changed the course that my life has taken. One of my most memorable is the first time I got the chance to work alongside paramedics and firefighters. On my first day at the station, I was prompted to ask the Captain, “What gives you the courage to go into a building on fire?” In a matter of seconds, he pulled up his sleeve to show me his tattoo. It read the following: Isaiah 43:2.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”       

In truth, I did not know how to respond at the moment, but after wandering off the path, this served as a light to guide me back to my faith. In these moments when many of us are locked up in our homes, I am reminded of these brothers and sisters, who continue to support citizens across the nation. Individuals who come home and isolate themselves to prevent contamination with parents, partners, or children. I keep them in my prayers and am reminded that they do not receive the recognition that they deserve.
Brandon Ramirez

Brandon Ramirez ‘22 (he/him/his) is a psychology major, criminal justice studies minor, pre-med and a member of the Saint Ignatius Institute Living-Learning community.

Holy Thursday
In Loving Remembrance
By Fr. Lourdu Mummadi, SJ

One of the significant themes that we can notice in the Bible is the importance of remembrance. Throughout the Bible, God tells His people to remember His goodness and miraculous works. Passover was a yearly feast to remember how God delivered the Israelites from Egypt at the time of crisis. Similarly, Jesus wanted his disciples to hold forever in their minds and hearts the momentous occasion when he broke bread and shared the cup with them. Jesus’ intention of the institution of Eucharist is to help the believers to remember His actions of serving others by demonstrating love in tangible ways. Today, He invites us to take the bread and the cup in remembrance of Him and love our fellow humans in need.

When Mother Teresa of Calcutta visited Phoenix in 1989 to open a home for the poor, she was interviewed by KTAR radio station. The announcer of the radio station privately asked Mother Teresa if there was anything he could do for her. He was expecting her to request a contribution or media attention to help to raise money for the new home for the needy in Phoenix. Instead, she replied, “Yes, there is. Find somebody nobody else loves and love them.” She is an example of remembering Eucharistic Jesus.

The world tells us to show others how important we are.  But Jesus, whom we exalt and worship, invites us through the institutions of Eucharist to love and serve the fellow humans. Let us celebrate this remembrance and reach out to the suffering of humanity around us.

Father Lourdu Mummadi, SJ

Fr. Lourdu Mummadi, SJ (he/him/his) is a doctoral student in the School of Education, and a Jesuit resident minister in Toler Hall.

Good Friday
by Angélica Quiñónez

Beauty. That's the first word that comes to mind when reflecting on Good Friday. I don't think that "beauty" is the first word that most people associate with Good Friday, but it is the only word I find encompasses it all. 

Good Friday reminds me of Jesus' humanity. Broken, beaten, and abandoned by His friends, Jesus walks the harsh road to His death. It is a road filled with pain, falls, fear, and the sounds of an accusing crowd. Nothing about Jesus's passion is easy. In fact, nothing about Jesus's passion, at first glance, is beautiful. There is the cross of capital punishment, the blood of an innocent man, the tears of a mother, and the sound of nails through flesh and wood. A very human Jesus experiences the ultimate agony in humanity and, yet, transforms it all through that very passion. The ugliness and brutality of the moment gave birth to the beauty of redemption---the opportunity for us to be transformed--because Jesus sacrificed himself to create something beautiful for all of us.  

On this Good Friday, in particular, I am reminded that even in the midst of fear and uncertainty something truly beautiful can emerge. And, it is already. Our USF community has found ways to build community. At UM, our Resident Ministers continue to be a presence for our student community--creating spaces of community online, engaging with students in person (while exercising social distancing), and continuing to serve others through the tutoring and immersion programs. The full-time staff is working on developing ways to connect with our community using the tools at our disposal. In our communities, we witness young people helping senior citizens with their groceries, our faith communities reaching out in new ways, medical professionals risking their lives, and all those working in essential industries braving the risk in order to lessen ours. 

Something beautiful is emerging. 

At his passion and death, Jesus is at His most human. With raw emotion and determination, Jesus accepts His cross, accepts the mockery and abandonment, and works through His own fear out of love. It is a reminder that we, though isolated, are never alone. Whatever we experience, whatever we face, Jesus in His humanity did too. And, on that third day, Jesus rose proving that death is not forever. What we face now is not forever.  We too shall rise.

Angélica Quiñónez

Angelica Quinonez ‘10 and ‘14 (she/her/hers) is Associate Director of Resident Ministry and Retreats at University Ministry and a member of the USF Council for Jesuit Mission.

Easter Sunday 
by Katheleen Shrader

It’s been challenging to have any sense of Easter joy as of late. The world is in a desperate state, and as a Registered Nurse at a medical homeless shelter in San Francisco, I’ve felt fairly hopeless these days. The patients at my work are the most physically vulnerable people I’ve ever met, and I’m terrified for them.
One of my favorite patients is an older man who has been crippled by a stroke. He spends his days in a wheelchair and is completely dependent on others in his daily activities. He’s also one of the people that I worry about most with this virus. Every time that I come into work and see him, he laughs and exclaims “what did I do to deserve this honor of seeing you?” I always respond, “what did I do to deserve this honor of seeing you?” This exchange always makes me smile and reminds me that the best any of us can do for each other these days is to show up, show some love, and weather this out together. For a man who is at such high risk to still find joy is a resurrection of hope in and of itself. In a time full of stress, heartbreak, and sorrow – the greater mission, the one that we are called to, is to find hope amidst the virus and to find the resurrection in this. Easter reminds us that life conquers death, and that love and hope are greater than any virus.

Kathleen Shrader

Kathleen Shrader is a doctoral student in the School of Nursing and Health Professions, and a resident minister.

2021 Interfaith Prayer Services

2020 Interfaith Prayer Services