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4 rectors adjust to new roles

Tess Civantos | Thursday, August 28, 2008

Notre Dame welcomed four new rectors this academic year in Pangborn, Pasquerilla West, Keenan and in the new men’s residence, Duncan Hall.

Father Tom Eckert, a former rector of St. Edward’s Hall, was selected as the first rector of the West Quad’s brand-new Duncan Hall.

“When we were handing out maps to the freshmen and their parents at check-in we realized Duncan Hall wasn’t on the map,” Eckert said, so hall staff drew Duncan themselves.

“We’re going to put our place on the map,” he said. “There’s more excitement because there’s a lot of things we get to start.”

Eckert has a long history at Notre Dame. He graduated in 1995 from the University with a bachelor’s degree in both economics and Spanish. For three years, Eckert was rector of St. Edward’s Hall as well as the director of Latino Student Ministry in Campus Ministry and the associate director of the Office of Vocations for the Congregation of Holy Cross.

Eckert left those positions to concentrate on his graduate studies, and last spring earned a master’s degree in Iberian and Latin American Literatures at the University.

Eckert has traveled to Peru and Chile for mission work, and served as a deacon at St. John Vianney Parish in Goodyear, Arizona.

“I am the youngest of 14 children,” Eckert said, “which was good preparation for living in a dorm.”

Eckert also brings to the job memories of undergraduate life at Notre Dame.

“I remember all the hours hanging out with my section mates, playing cards, watching TV, just building our community bond,” he said.

Sister Mary Donnelly began her tenure this year as rector of Pangborn Hall.

“I am so excited to be here,” she said.

Donnelly, like Eckert, is also from a big family. She is the second oldest of seven children. Donnelly attended Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich., but Notre Dame is in her family – she has an older brother who graduated from Notre Dame in 1975.

“I’m looking forward to interacting with and influencing the women of Pangborn,” Donnelly said. “And they will influence me as well. It’s a mutual learning experience.”

Sophie Henrichs, rector of Pasquerilla West, earned a masters in theological studies from Notre Dame. For her undergraduate education, Henrichs attended St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.

“I loved the make-your-own pizza nights and pajama masses that the Marianist priests and brothers held,” Henrichs said. “The same things that people enjoy at Notre Dame are what I carried with me from my college experience.”

Henrichs said she’s liked her time as a Notre Dame rector so far.

“I’m really pleased with how things have gone,” she said.

Assuming the position of rector has gone smoothly for the new rector of Keenan Hall, Father Daniel Nolan.

“I love it here,” Nolan said. “I feel like I died and went to Heaven.”

Nolan is a native of Las Vegas and has an older sister and younger brother.

“I’m one of the few who grew up in Las Vegas and became a priest,” Nolan joked.

Before coming to Notre Dame, Nolan was a teacher.

“I taught at the St. Viator’s Clerics’ school in Las Vegas,” Nolan said. “I used to get tickets to Notre Dame games against USC and Stanford, so that was my contact with Notre Dame for a long time.”