naThe middle of the week is a special time at Saint Mary’s, when faculty, staff and students gather to eat, listen to music, share ideas and revel in being a Gael.

The early afternoons on Wednesdays are a time when a student’s schedule is wide open – no classes to take, no deadlines bearing down. Gaels can relax and take the time to connect in the old way: face-to-face. When the weather is clear and sunny, the community gathers at Ferroggiaro Quad for an outdoor barbecue, which is free for students. Faculty, staff and community members are asked to contribute a $5 donation.

“Community time reflects what the school strives for, community, inclusiveness and togetherness. I haven’t heard of another college that has the same block of time dedicated each week,” Associated Students President Leslie Anne Salvador said. “It’s great that because we’re a small college we’re able to do that. It’s a nice downtime for everyone.”

In addition to weekly Community Time, Saint Mary’s sets aside several shared mission days, allowing students to reflect and connect, said Carole Swain, vice president of mission.

Each academic year begins with The Mass of the Holy Spirit, a time for the president to welcome the old and the new, while Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent in the Roman Catholic tradition.

The State of the College Address and De La Salle Week are also opportunities to congregate on campus without outside distraction.

“During De La Salle Week, we honor an extraordinary Lasallian educator,” Swain said.

The beginning of the week is marked by a BBQ that draws about 1,800 people.

The 2013 De La Salle Day honored Brother Alvaro Rodriguez Echeverria, F.S.C., the superior general of the Christian Brothers. He travelled from Rome and was given an honorary doctorate from Saint Mary’s.

“It was probably the most people we’ve ever had,” said Swain. ”These mission days are really a time when the whole community can come together.”

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