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President’s Message: Ringing of the University Church Bell


Dear Members of the Extended Fordham Family,

Old Edgar Allan is not just any old bell. Far from it. From the moment it was installed in the tower of the University Church, Old Edgar Allan has played an important role in the life and ministry of the University. In its usual, steady cadence, it has called generations of Fordham students to prayer; with its somber tolling, it has marked the deaths of those who are dear to us whose losses we feel acutely—whether they be members of the University family or women and men of distinction who have lived lives of service to the country or the world; and in its full-throated swinging peals, it has joyfully celebrated great moments or events, both personal and public.

In light of the great importance of several events that we will observe this week I have asked that Old Edgar Allan be rung:

At Noon on Monday, 18 January, to celebrate and thank God for the life and legacy of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., a towering and iconic figure in our nation’s history whose prophetic ministry called all of us to give ourselves to the cause of racial and social justice.

At 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 19 January, to mourn the deaths of the hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens who have lost their lives to COVID-19. (President-Elect Biden has invited all churches to participate in this national act of prayerful remembrance.)

At 9 a.m. on Inauguration Day, Wednesday, 20 January, hearkening back to the Inauguration of George Washington when the New York City churches rang their bells at that time. The University will stream this bell ringing on Facebook live in celebration of a new presidential beginning, and to invite all to pray for the healing of our country.

At 11:50 a.m. on Inauguration Day, Wednesday, 20 January, to call us all to prayer for President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris as they prepare to take their oaths of office.

At 12:30 p.m. on that same day, the moment at which it is estimated that President Joseph Biden will utter the last words of his oath of office, and thus officially become the 46th President of the United States. It will be at that moment that we will celebrate the peaceful transfer of power that has always been a key feature in our national life, as well as an affirmation of the democratic principles upon which the republic was founded and on which its life is based. May that moment also mark the triumph of hope over cynicism and the beginning of that healing that our nation yearns for and deserves.

May God bless the United States of America.

Joseph M. McShane, S.J.


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