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Mormon upbringing impacts experience

Maria Smith | Monday, September 6, 2004

When people at Notre Dame find out I’m not a Catholic, they occasionally ask if it’s weird being around so many people from a different religious background. The answer, generally, is that it can be a little strange, but it’s never been a problem.

When people find out I was raised Mormon, they usually ask how many wives my father has. Although I’m sometimes tempted to ask how it feels to be part of the religion that spawned the Spanish Inquisition, I generally laugh it off.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Notre Dame, and my loyalty to Mormonism has faded as I’ve grown older. Nowadays I go to Mass far more often than I enter a Mormon church. Despite being born in Salt Lake City, when people ask me seriously I don’t claim the title of being Mormon. Like a lot of the things we all grow up with, Mormonism increasingly fades into the back of my head as I get closer to a Catholic campus.

But like a lot of those things we don’t think we think about, my Mormon heritage frequently rears its head and reminds me where I come from. When the first points appeared on the board for BYU during the football game, I was surprised to realize how much I was rooting not for my future alma mater, but for my father’s.

I didn’t quite dare to cheer for the Cougars during the game for fear of having something thrown at my head by the numerous highly vocal fans surrounding me, and as usual, I kept my mouth shut through jokes at the expense of Brigham Young. Needless to say, after an entire game of keeping my mouth shut while people theorized about how many wives the players had, I was secretly more than a little satisfied to see BYU vindicated with a victory.

Since Saturday night I’ve had a few friends tell me that after that game, they’re considering switching to the Mormon God instead of the Catholic one. Of course, a football game isn’t the way to choose a religious faith, and despite all the differences that exist I’d like to think that wherever people go to church it’s still the same God watching the Irish and the Cougars play.

But I have to admit I felt a lot of BYU pride for a few minutes when I saw the final score. Things may change over time, and I may still be glad I go to Notre Dame instead of BYU, but watching the game made me realize that in some part of my heart I will always be a Mormon.