Fr. Paulson, who completed some of his graduate work in France, speaks the language fluently and provided a unique opportunity for students to connect their study of French with Loyola’s Jesuit mission and identity.
The Mass was a featured event in Loyola’s celebration of National French Week—a lineup that also included eclair sales in the cafeteria, a French trivia contest and more. Now in it’s seventh year, the French Mass has become an annual tradition that is both fun and educational.
"It was interesting to be learning outside the classroom setting,” says sophomore Caraline Foley, who is currently in Honors French III. “It was a new experience.”
“I liked how the Mass in French made me pay more attention to what was going on,” adds Marina Monacelli ’18.
The readings, petitions and prayers were all conducted in French. For junior Patrick McKermitt, it was the music that struck a chord. “I really enjoyed all the songs that were in French,” he reflects. These included La Prière de Saint Ignace (a setting of Ignatius's Suspice), Heureux êtes-vous (the Beatitudes) and Le Vent de l'Espoir (based on Beethoven's Ode to Joy).
Also attending were junior high French students from Saints Faith, Hope and Charity School in Winnetka, which offers a robust language program beginning in kindergarten. The foundation in French that students gain at Faith, Hope gives them an early start in exploring other cultures and enhances their continued study of language at Loyola.
After Mass, French III and IV students played games and conversed in French with the Faith, Hope students. This was an opportunity for all students to challenge themselves by practicing dialogue with other French learners.
Honors French III and IV and AP French students had the opportunity to interview Fr. Paulson. In French, students asked him about his work as a provincial, about Pope Francis and about the new superior general of the Jesuits, Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ.
“As language teachers, we are always seeking ways for students to communicate in French with native and near-native speakers of French,” says Mr. Thomas Sapp, who teaches in both the language and theology departments. “The interview enabled our students to prepare and ask questions in French and to listen to what Fr. Paulson has to say in French.”
Monacelli ’18 admits she was nervous to interview someone in another language. “I prepared by creating a list of three questions, but I ended up coming up with a new question on the spot because my questions had already been asked,” she recalls. “I asked Fr. Paulson if he has a preference of celebrating Mass in French or in English. He said that Mass in each language has a different feeling, but if he had to choose one it would probably be in French.”
Junior Kathryn Nugent asked Fr. Paulson what it was like when he was a student at Loyola. “Fr. Paulson said that there wasn’t a theater then, and that the school enrolled only boys. Also, he said the Chapel looked a lot different,” she explains.
“I am very thankful we have these kind of opportunities to expose us to the French culture,” says Helena Talanges ’18. “They help further our education and use the language we are studying.”
“Experiences like this are valuable because they help students to exercise their proficiency in a language,” adds Monacelli ’18. “Speaking in a classroom is very different from holding a conversation. Holding a conversation opens you up to a whole other world of people and experiences that you would not get to interact with otherwise.”