Always Moving Forward: Reflections on the Dahlgren Cross

IMG_0719By allowing two other students and me (as students regularly involved with the Catholic night mass community) to deliver the Dahlgren Cross to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Georgetown gave us the unique opportunity to be a part of Pope Francis’s Canonization Mass of Junípero Serra. After a short commute, we entrusted the nearly four century old cross into the hands of Deacon Dave Cahoon, the man who built both the altar and podium designed by architecture students at Catholic University. The podium served as an exhibition to proudly display the cross during Pope Francis’s homily, during which he emphasized the canonized saint’s motto siempre adelante (always moving forward) as an inspiration for us all.



Weeks later, when I heard Pope Francis recall the witness of faith provided by Saint Junípero Serra at the Mass, I was reminded of the Latin words inscribed on the cross: Ad perpetuam rei memoriam (for the eternal memory of this event). The event referenced was a monumental moment for both Catholicism and religious freedom, and its memory certainly lives on today, especially on our own campus here at Georgetown. Although I am a student actively involved in Catholic life on campus, over my four years here I have come to find another spiritual home with my friends from the Hindu tradition. When the cross returns to its home in Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart, I will look at it and think of our profound commitment to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and understanding on campus. I will look at the cross and know that I was a part of history – not just on September 23, but also a history that has been moving forward since 1789.

Written by Spencer Crawford, F’16