Hundreds gather for 'Mass on ice' on Lake Sagatagan

Hundreds gathered for Mass on ice, an effort by St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict.

For more than 160 years, Lake Sagatagan has been one of the main features at St. John's University. But, over the weekend, the frozen body of water became a house of worship.

"It's a place of rest after a long week where students can come together and be present with one another," said St. John's University Chaplain Nick Kleespie.

"It was a little cold, but it wasn't anything us Minnesotans couldn't handle. I know some of the out of state students weren't feeling the same way," added St. John's student Logan Edwards.

On Sunday night, about 300 students from St. John's and its sister school, the College of St. Benedict, attended a student Mass on top of the ice-covered lake. This is the first time in its history campus ministry has had an ice Mas on what has been nicknamed "the Sag."

"We've been trying to find creative ways to do Mass during coronavirus time,  and we've done seven masses outside - football stadium, out in front of the church on the lawn - and we thought, it's the middle of Minnesota winter, why not try the lake?" Father Kleespie said.

During the 40-minute service, students braved the elements while practicing their faith.

"We've never done anything on the lake. Students were asking, 'after the ice Mass will we have Mass on the floating raft when it gets warm out in the summer.' You can always add gear, but Mass in swimming trunks may not be appropriate," Father Kleespie said.

And what better way to build community than by putting it on ice.

"I just loved every minute of it. It was awesome to gather together in a place that's kind of the pinnacle of St. John's campus on Lake Sagatagan and just gather and pray together," Logan Edwards said.