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University welcomes six new hall rectors

Kathleen McDonnell | Friday, August 25, 2006

While leading the center of the Notre Dame community seems a daunting task to many people, six new rectors are embracing the opportunity this fall.

Denise McOsker of Lyons, Sister Denise Lyon of Badin, Linda Cirillo of Lewis, Mark DeMott of Keough, Breyan Tornifolio of Pasquerilla East and Father Ralph Haag of St. Edward’s Hall join the 21 returning rectors this academic year.

Sister Jean Lenz, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, is enthusiastic about the new rectors. Fifty-five hopefuls applied for the six available positions.

“We were just so fortunate to have the folks we have,” Lenz said. “Notre Dame attracts, right? As a group, the new rectors just seem so happy to be here.”

An applicant must have a master’s degree in his or her respective field and experience working with young people. He or she must also agree to stay three years if hired. While only two are clergy members, all are from places where the pastoral dimension is very important, Lenz said.

McOsker comes to Lyons after eight years of teaching high school in Fort Pierce, Fla. She also taught at Indian River Community College, and prior to that, coordinated laboratory research projects in hospitals.

“I only visited [campus] for the first time in 1997,” she said. “I had come for a wedding and walked around like a child on her first visit to Disney World. Since then I’ve always wanted to come back.”

Lyon joins Badin after two years at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Spiritual Renewal Center, preceded by 30 years of teaching experience. She holds graduate degrees in pastoral care and counseling as well as spirituality and monastic studies. With roots in Pennsylvania, Lyons said she is most excited for the first home game against rival Penn State.

Cirillo, the new rector at Lewis Hall, served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force as a logistics manager and inspector. During that time she served around the United States and throughout the Far East and Europe. Cirillo holds graduate degrees in spiritual and pastoral care and human resource development. She is also a certified Catholic chaplain.

Keough’s DeMott, a double Domer, finished undergraduate work in 2002 and will complete his master of divinity degree in May 2007. He also interned for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Department of Education in Washington, D.C.

“After eight years at Notre Dame, I’m finally happy to be living on campus – and air conditioning and an elevator work wonders,” said DeMott, who prior served as both a resident assistant and assistant rector at Carroll Hall.

DeMott said he is looking forward to “get more involved in students lives” and devote more time to the ministry in the hall.

Torifolio joins Pasquerilla East with a master’s in higher education from Geneva College. She has six years of experience working with residence life and served as coordinator of Institutional Research at Wheeling Jesuit University.

Before becoming rector of St. Edwards Hall, Haag served as the associate pastor of St. Gregory the Great Parish in Phoenix, Ariz. He worked with youth groups, directed religious education and created programs for adult faith education while at St. Gregory. Haag earned his master of divinity degree from Notre Dame in 2003 and was ordained a Holy Cross priest in 2004.

Even under the stress of a very hectic Frosh-O weekend and first week of classes, the University’s newest rectors are now eager to embrace the unique Notre Dame culture.

“I knew for sure that I was back in a university setting when [I was] awakened at 1 a.m. by the Fisher men serenading our ladies,” McOsker said. “Ah, tradition!”

Lyon said she looks forward to “coming to know and love the ND traditions.”