Then and Now: Light of Learning

This Mount Mary tradition celebrates a rich history and a growing future

By Mount Mary University

Posted on November 28, 2019

Share on social media

Two traditions have bookended students’ academic journeys at Mount Mary for over 85 years, the Investiture and pre-commencement ceremonies. Each ceremony shares a connection, a lantern that contains a candle symbolizing the light of learning.

First-year students receive candles at Investiture, the formal welcoming of new students into the Mount Mary community that is held annually before the start of the fall semester.

Investiture is defined as a “ceremony at which honors or rank are formally conferred on a particular person,” and back in 1929, first-year students were given their graduation cap and gown at this time. They were expected to wear this attire to assemblies, formal scholastic functions and at Sunday mass until the 1960s.

While this tradition has faded, a bit of it remains. First-year students still recite the Cap and Gown Pledge, written by Dr. Edward A. Fitzpatrick, Mount Mary president from 1920 to 1954. With this pledge, the group becomes part of the community of scholars at Mount Mary.

On the night before commencement, graduates are invited to pass their lanterns on to someone who has encouraged them throughout their studies. This tradition began in 1926 in Prairie du Chien, the original location of Mount Mary. At Step Singing, seniors carried lanterns and sang songs at different stops on and around the campus before ascending the steps to sing to parents, faculty and the student body. Each senior handed a lantern to a junior, symbolizing the passing on of the light of learning.

When Mount Mary relocated to Milwaukee in 1929, portions of this tradition were retained. Today, graduating seniors share their lanterns with significant others in their lives as they pass their lanterns to a family member, friend or mentor in gratitude for their support and encouragement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *