Scranton Students 'Break Open the Word' During Lent

Scranton’s "Breaking Open the Word" takes place after the 7:00 p.m. Mass during the Sundays of Lent and is led by a team of students. 
Scranton Students 'Break Open the Word' During Lent

When asked to describe the Office of Campus Ministries’ Lenten program, Breaking Open the Word (BOW), Fred Mercadante, campus minister for Retreats and Sacramental Formation, shared a quote from an unknown author:  “First we read Scripture, and then Scripture reads us.” The process is simple and dates back all the way to the early Church:

  1. Christians and those preparing to become Christians hear the Word of God proclaimed at Eucharist.
  2. They then gather to “break open” that Word; that is, they discuss how the Scripture (in particular Sunday’s Gospel reading) speaks to them as individuals and, perhaps more importantly, as a community of faith.

Scranton’s BOW takes place after the 7:00 p.m. Mass during the Sundays of Lent and is led by a team of students. The student leaders, who prepared weekly during the Fall semester through a team formation process, facilitate each BOW gathering. Participants are invited to re-hear the day’s Gospel, listen to a witness talk prepared and delivered by a team leader, break into small groups to discuss, and then gather together again to wrap up with closing thoughts and a prayer. 

“It’s part Bible study, part mini-retreat, and part catechetical program,” explained Mercadante. “We basically try to answer the same question each week: ‘What does today’s Gospel theme have to do with my life as a college student?’”


“BOW has been one of the first big steps throughout my religious journey,” said Ariana Flores ‘24.  “From listening to all the inspirational talks from students, to being able to connect with others who share that common interest, to learning and growing through discussion, I would say BOW is definitely memorable and always leaves me wanting to learn more!” 

Inherent in Scranton’s mission as a Catholic and Jesuit university is the call to be centered on the Gospel and to cultivate Gospel values. BOW provides an opportunity for students to answer this call in an interactive, peer-led fashion.

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