By: Kyle Burgess ’21
On Sunday, Oct. 25, members of the Providence College Class of 2021 commemorated their time in Friartown with a celebratory Senior Ring Weekend (SRW) Mass at St. Dominic Chapel. This year’s celebrations took on a unique approach as the 130 masked seniors in attendance remained socially distant in their pews, but came together in faith and in their shared memories as a class.
The planning for this year’s celebrations had been nearly two years in the making until COVID-19 put a damper on some of the weekend’s festivities, including a formal dance for the Class of 2021 hosted at Twin Rivers Casino. However, the members of the 2021 SRW planning core were determined to keep one of the College’s long-standing traditions alive despite the current circumstances.
“It was definitely a challenge adjusting our plan for SRW to be in compliance with COVID restrictions,” explained Brianna Waldmann ’21, one of the core’s Mass and reception co-chairs. “However, Father Peter Martyr was incredibly helpful in creating the logistics for this Mass.”
Along with Father Peter Martyr, O.P.’s assistance, the team developed a seating chart that allowed pods of students to be seated together while also maintaining adequate distance between other pods. These pods were also filtered into the chapel using a system of traffic cones that helped to prevent crowding at the entrance. “Additionally, we had many amazing senior ushers and greeters who assisted with Mass, contact tracing requirements, and cleaning the pews of the Chapel after Mass to ensure the utmost safety,” Waldmann explained.
For Waldmann, the ability to help in the planning and preservation of this cherished tradition was an opportunity she could not pass up. “I wanted to be a part of creating such a fun weekend for the Class of 2021, and specifically wanted to serve as the Mass and reception co-chair,” said Waldmann. “I believe the SRW Mass is such a beautiful end to SRW weekend allowing our class to join in communion with one another and have our class rings blessed together. I wanted to help create an opportunity for us to join together once again as seniors.”
The rings, despite their variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, share several images reflecting the Class of 2021’s PC experience. Iconic locations such as the school’s front gates that greeted seniors during orientation three years ago, Harkins Hall, the Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies, and St. Dominic Chapel are engraved into the rings.
Dogwood trees, which are found on campus and blossom into a beautiful collage of colors each spring, are also present on the class’s rings to remind students that the heart of the Friar Family will always remain at PC, even if friendships fade away like the dogwood’s leaves in fall.
The Friar logo stands as an acknowledgement of the immense school pride that each Friar carries with them and unites the Friartown community at large. The phases of the moon from August 2017 and May 2021 complete the ring story, embodying the complete journey that this year’s seniors have taken together.
Although students were unable to come together as a class in a formal ceremony reception due to the COVID-19 protocol measures, the SRW planning core remains optimistic that the class of 2021 will have special events in the future, with the group allocating its remaining budget to senior events during the spring semester.
However, the Mass itself represented a unique opportunity for seniors to celebrate how far they have come as a class. As Waldmann put it, “Having our class rings blessed as a community of PC seniors is such an incredible way for us to recognize God’s graces in our time at PC and all that will come as we transition to a new stage in our lives post-graduation.” Despite the absence of many traditional aspects from the weekend’s itinerary, the class of 2021 remains grateful they were able to come together in recognition of their accomplishments and share in their excitement for what the future has in store.