Catholic Campus Ministry and Hillel partner to celebrate fall and Halloween

This annual Pumpkin Carving event allows students to have fun and build community.

Father Peter Trembley, left, in a photo with Abby Krause ’26, who created the pumpkin head, which was a hit with everyone!

On Wednesday, Oct. 25th, at 7 p.m., student leaders from Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) and Hillel collaborated to host a Pumpkin Carving party for the Elon community.

About 50 students enjoyed doughnuts, apple cider, and other snacks while chatting and making Jack ‘O Lanterns on the lawn of the Holland House on South Campus. CCM and Hillel have partnered in the past for an annual Super Bowl party, so it was only time for both groups to find another way to work together.

“I loved having the opportunity to collaborate with Hillel because we are both organizations filled with students committed to the daunting task of trying to live out our respective faiths while in college. Pumpkin carving is an especially fun event to work together on because it is a welcoming, low-stress opportunity to grow in the community,” said Jillian Thomas ‘25, Elon CCM Treasurer and member of the Servant Leader team.

This sentiment was shared by many of the students as they partnered up to carve pumpkins ranging from standard Jack O’ Lanterns to the Elon Phoenix and even intricate works of art displaying a haunted house. Laughter and conversation easily drown out the spooky party playlist blasting from the speakers on the porch.

But why does Elon CCM hold this annual event? Is it just to have fun and carve pumpkins? Well, yes, but there is much more to it. Halloween, for Catholics, is tied to All Saints’ Day, which is a significant feast day. It is similar to Mardi Gras before Ash Wednesday. It is a way to celebrate and prepare for what happens next: All Saints’ Day on the Nov. 1 and All Souls’ Day on Nov. 2.

International Student Maria Romero-Achon ’25 and Gavin Michaud ’26 work hard scrapping out their pumpkins.

All Saints’ Day is a day to honor and remember all the saints, those we know the names of and those we do not. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops defines saints as “persons in heaven (officially canonized or not), who lived heroically virtuous lives, offered their life for others, or were martyred for the faith, and who are worthy of imitation.” These can be people who lived hundreds of years ago or as recently as the 1990s. They are examples to look up to and to be inspired by. Catholics also believe they are still rooting for us from Heaven and are great people to ask to pray with us when facing tough times, struggling with classes, or just trying to figure out what to do next.

All Souls’ Day is a day where we remember and pray for the souls of our loved ones who have passed away and for all the faithful departed, especially those who may not have others to pray for them. For Catholics, just like the saints do not stop caring for us, we do not stop caring for our loved ones as they journey to heaven.

“Both All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days help to remind us that we are not alone, that we have so many people praying for us, encouraging us, and inspiring us as we navigate life,” Father Peter Tremblay said, “It shows just how big community truly is.” Maybe the CCM & Hillel Pumpkin Carving gave us a little glimpse of that community, too.

Elon CCM will host an All Saints’ Day Mass on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. in the Sacred Space of the Numen Lumen Pavilion. All are welcome to attend.