In a mostly-filled Basilica of the National Shrine, in the presence of approximately 15 cardinals and bishops, faculty, students and family, John Garvey was inaugurated Jan. 25 as Catholic University of America’s 15th president. Although Garvey has been active on campus since last July 1, his inauguration was delayed by the Vatican’s November consistory.

The Mass was majestic, triumphal, regal even, featuring beautiful Handel, Bach, Mozart, Haydn and Brahms music by the university’s symphony orchestra and various choirs and choruses. The principal celebrant was Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl, chancellor of the university.

“In spite of the sometimes arid terrain where the seed of God’s word is sown, there now appear strong signs of new life and new receptivity,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl during the homily. “All you have to do is look around this campus and you see indications of the vitality of faith evident in the active participation in the campus ministry program, the campus council of the Knights of Columbus, the fruitfulness of the vocation and discernment programs, and most evidently in the thousands of students who joyfully attend and reverently participate in the opening Mass of the academic year.”

Following Cardinal Wuerl’s homily, Garvey led those gathered in the Profession of Faith and then took the Oath of Fidelity. It was the first time I had witnessed a university president making the Oath of Fidelity. I found it quite moving. Afterwards, Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron, CUA board of trustees chairman, gave the new president the symbols of the university: mace and a pewter medallion and chain of office bearing the university coat of arms, superimposed over the American eagle.

Following the Mass, Garvey delivered his inaugural address, “Intellect and Virtue: The Idea of a Catholic University.” Borrowing heavily from Cardinal John Henry Newman, Garvey described how the secular model of education has often abandoned moral formation in favor of intellectual formation.

Quoting from Newman’s The Idea of a University, St. Bonaventure, Aristotle, Pascal and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he showed the relation between intellect and virtue and argued that such formation is best done in a “community of people” living it. Garvey proposed that formation in virtue guides and leads to formation in intellect.

Said Garvey, “The path to the study of theology begins with prayer, not speculation.”