From the Multifaith Chaplaincy: Holy Week, Passover, Easter


Holy Week this year overlaps with Passover. It is a special opportunity for both communities to renew bonds of friendship and esteem and a joint commitment to seek real liberation, freedom, and new life. This message will share about Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter in the Christian tradition, and Passover in the Jewish tradition.

Holy Week

If you see students walking around campus with palms in hand on Sunday, April 9, you are not imagining things. That day is Palm Sunday for the Catholic and Protestant communities. This marks the beginning of Holy Week, historically one of the most sacred time of year for Christians.

Palm Sunday recalls the event in the Christian Scripture (The New Testament) of Jesus entering into Jerusalem and being greeted by the people waving palm branches. For Christians, it is a reminder of the welcoming of Jesus into their hearts and of their willingness to follow him. The service on Palm Sunday also includes a reading of the Passion, that is, the story of the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. In today's church, great care is given to make sure that the story of the death of Jesus is not presented in an anti-Semitic manner. His death is seen as salvation and as a reminder of how prophets are often killed when they stand for justice and peace. Catholic Mass, with the distribution of palms, will take place at 10 a.m. April 9 in Bethlehem Chapel.

Holy Thursday, April 13, (sometimes referred to as Maundy Thursday after the Latin mandatum or command to love one another) is a day when Christians commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus. In some traditions, there is the washing of the feet of various members of the community to recall a gesture of Jesus at the Last Supper when he washed the feet of his disciples. This is a sign of the need to do more to love one another and to serve all people, especially the poor.

Good Friday, April 14, is a solemn day on which Christians recall the death of Jesus and its promise of hope and new life. In some traditions a wooden cross is set up and people spend time meditating before it. Other people make the Stations of the Cross, a devotion that recalls the journey of Jesus on the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows) in Jerusalem to Calvary where he was crucified (In Jerusalem the place of Jesus’ death and resurrection is commemorated inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre). Many Christians keep this devotion, but also see in the suffering of Jesus a reminder to be more concerned for the suffering of people in today's world. There are Lenten Prayer Stations up in Harlan Chapel through Easter day. On Good Friday, there will be a musical prayer reading of the Stations of the Cross at 1 p.m. in Bethlehem Chapel.


Passover begins on Monday evening, April 10, and continues through Tuesday night, April 18. Passover marks the liberation of the children of Israel from bondage and their subsequent exodus from Egypt. To acknowledge this most meaningful set of events, many Jews refrain from eating bread and bread-like products for the duration of the holiday (the technical term is hametz, meaning something which ferments or inflates) and mark the first nights of the holiday with a tableside ritual known as a seder, where they engage in a retelling of the story. This celebration of freedom is an opportunity for a reflection on those pieces of our souls which ought to be swept away along with the crumbs of hametz we clean from the corners of our homes, as well as a framework for understanding (and eliminating) that which enslaves us and those around us.

If you need seder hospitality, or have seder hospitality to offer, please drop a note to Ellie Afienko, Chaplaincy Administrator, no later than Wednesday ( Arrangements can be made for the sale of hametz as well.


Easter is the day Christians commemorate the resurrection of Christ. This year the Christian Orthodox Easter falls on April 16, the same day that Catholics and Protestants celebrate Easter. In the West, we follow the Gregorian calendar and the Orthodox follow the Julian calendar. In some traditions, the services begin the night before with the lighting of a new fire and the blessing of a large Easter candle. Water is blessed and many are baptized. Some churches have prayer vigils all night long leading into Easter morning. But for all Christians, this is a day to renew one's faith. In the Catholic Church, there is a sprinkling of all people with the newly blessed Easter water as a sign of renewal of their baptismal commitment. In many Protestant communities, Easter is celebrated at a sunrise service early on Easter morning. Easter usually ends with festive celebrations including special foods and Easter delicacies. Easter Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 16, in the Bethlehem Chapel. Agape Spiritual Community, pastored by Protestant Chaplain Matt Carriker, will have a 5 p.m. Easter Service April 16 in the Harlan Chapel.

The Multifaith Chaplaincy
Rev. Matt Carriker, Protestant Chaplain, 781-736-3573
Allison Cornelisse, Pastoral Associate for Catholic and Spiritual Life, 781-736-3574
Rabbi Charlie Schwartz, Interim Jewish Chaplain, 781-736-8416
Maryam Sharrieff, Interim Muslim Chaplain, 781-736-8742
Rabbi Liza Stern, Interim Jewish Chaplain, 781-736-3672