Northwestern community observes Holy Week and Easter on campus


Kimberly Espinosa/Daily Senior Staffer

This Sunday, Northwestern religious organizations including the Sheil Catholic Center will celebrate Easter, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus.

Jessica Ma, Assistant Campus Editor

Around campus, members of Northwestern’s Christian community are observing Holy Week leading up to Easter on Sunday.

For Rev. Julie Windsor Mitchell, campus minister at University Christian Ministry, Easter is one of the most meaningful holidays in the church calendar because it commemorates the resurrection of Jesus. 

“For me, that is the most important symbol of hope in our faith,” Mitchell said. “All of the things that keep people oppressed in our world … (are) replaced by hope, joy, peace and liberation.” 

To celebrate Palm Sunday, the first day in Holy Week, UCM presented a story from the Gospels in a “reader’s theater” format, Mitchell said. Participants narrated some parts of the story and, at other times, everyone read aloud together. 

This Sunday, UCM, Lutheran Campus Ministry and Canterbury House NU will host a special sunrise service at Clark Street Beach. According to Mitchell, about 150 to 200 people, including NU community members and Evanston residents, attended in the past.

“We will have three big crosses that we will put on the sand,” Mitchell said. “We will have a full worship service with scripture readings and hymns.”

Weinberg junior Nicole Wallace said she plans to attend the sunrise service and anticipates it will be a reflective experience. 

This Easter will be Wallace’s first on campus, she said, since she usually goes home to celebrate.

“It’s going to be hard for me, because Easter has always been a big family celebration, especially celebrating with my grandma,” Wallace said. “But the community I’ve found here with the Lutheran Campus Ministry and Religious and Spiritual Life … is a good placeholder.” 

The Sheil Catholic Center organized services for the Triduum, three days of public worship, which began Thursday night and lasts until Saturday evening. 

On Holy Saturday, Sheil will celebrate the Easter Vigil by blessing the new fire for the coming year. The fire will then light the Paschal candle, a symbol of life for the Catholic Church, according to Father Bradley Zamora, NU’s Catholic chaplain and director of Sheil. Zamora said he will lead the congregation into the chapel. 

“Once we’re in the space, we will share the new light of Christ with everyone, and everyone will stand with lighted candles,” Zamora said. “The liturgy begins with what’s called the Exsultet — it’s the Easter Proclamation, where we hear the story of salvation history.”

Sheil will host three masses on Easter, along with a virtual one. Everyone is invited to renew their baptismal promises, Zamora said. 

Around Easter, people observing the holiday tend to look for community when they would typically be with family, Zamora said. Sheil aims to create “soft entry points” into worship by providing worship aids, he added. 

He called experiencing Easter as a community a “total gift.” 

“Our hearts are open to the gift of the mysteries that are going to be broken open in these days of the Triduum and Easter,” Zamora said.

University Chaplain Rev. Kristen Glass Perez, executive director of RSL, will preach at a worship service at the Alice Millar Chapel on Sunday.

Glass Perez said she takes great comfort in the meaning of Easter. She said while hatred exists in the world, Easter emphasized the potential for healing. 

“Easter is really the central ritual in the Christian tradition,” Glass Perez said. “Every day, we rise again to new life with Jesus. Every single day, there’s possibility for that.” 

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Twitter: @JessicaMa2025

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