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ND Response organizes demonstration on campus

Aaron Steiner | Friday, May 15, 2009

ND Response, a coalition of 11 Notre Dame student groups opposed to President Obama’s commencement visit, will hold their biggest event yet when they begin a “prayerful and constructive” demonstration Saturday night, a series of events that is scheduled to stretch nearly 24 hours.

The ad hoc group composed of 11 student clubs is leading the only on-campus demonstration scheduled this weekend in response to Obama’s visit. The group will host a prayer vigil, outdoor mass, rally and an alternative event – a meditation – for seniors boycotting their graduation.

A May 12 press release from the coalition said they aim to “literally fill Notre Dame’s South Quad with Notre Dame and pro-life supporters from around the country.”

The group has invited anyone who is “interested in respectfully and constructively standing alongside us as we give witness to Notre Dame’s Catholic identity and affirm the sanctity of life,” according to ND Response’s Web site.

The demonstration events will begin Saturday at 9:30 p.m. with all-night prayer vigil in the chapel of Alumni Hall. Local Bishop D’Arcy, who is boycotting the ceremony based on the University’s invitation to Obama, is scheduled to be present at the beginning of the vigil.

Events on Sunday, the day when primary Commencement ceremonies will take place on Notre Dame’s campus, begin at 10:45 a.m. with a Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the Alumni Hall chapel, moving outdoors at 11:15 a.m. for a Mass.

The outdoor Mass will be celebrated on South Quad outside the Rockne Memorial building.

The primary event of the day, a rally, will begin immediately after the Mass on South Quad.

Some six speakers will be present for the rally, including Fr. John J. Raphael, principal of St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, La., and a Notre Dame alumnus; Elizabeth Borger, former chair of the board of the Woman’s Care Center and a Notre Dame alumna; Professor David Solomon of the philosophy department and director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics & Culture; Fr. Wilson Miscamble, a professor of history at Notre Dame; and Lacy Dodd, an alumna of the University who also serves on the board of directors of the Room at the Inn in Charlotte, N.C.

Then, at 2 p.m., ND Response will hold a “Class of 2009 Vigil for Life” at the Grotto on Notre Dame’s campus.

“Those supporters in attendance will be urged to join seniors who have decided not to attend graduation at a prayer vigil on campus,” according to the group’s Web site.

“Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, will be leading a Scriptural Rosary during this prayer vigil,” the Web site states.

A post-commencement honor ceremony and party are scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday, held by ND Affirm Life, a national coalition group organized in response to the Obama invitation, at the State Theatre in downtown South Bend.

ND Response, although having coordinated events with outside organizations, is not officially associated with any outside groups.

While inviting those outside the University community to the demonstrations, the coalition states on their Web site that graphic images “not in keeping with the tone of this rally” will not be permitted on campus and those violating this request may be escorted from campus by security.