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GALA to recognize SMC sister

Anna Boarini | Friday, October 1, 2010

As assistant vice president for Student Affairs at Saint Mary’s College, Sr. Mary Louise “M.L.” Gude, worked to foster tolerance for gay and lesbian students at Notre Dame.

Gude will receive the Thomas A. Dooley award on Saturday for her service to the gay and lesbian community of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s from Gay and Lesbian Alumni of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College (GALA).

The Thomas A. Dooley award is named after a gay, former Notre Dame student who worked as a Navy doctor in Southeast Asia and continued as a humanitarian doctor in Laos after his dismissal from the Navy, according to GALA’s website.

The award is given to individuals who use their faith to advance the rights of American gays and lesbians.

Growing up in Cleveland as the oldest of five children, Gude said she always knew she had a religious vocation.

“I wanted to be a sister of Holy Cross because my mother’s family had connections to Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s,” Gude said.

Gude came to Notre Dame in 1983 and remained at the University for 23 years, until she became the vice president for Mission at Saint Mary’s College in 2006. She started as an assistant rector in Breen Phillips Hall and eventually became an assistant vice president for student affairs in 1998.

In 1996, Gude helped found the standing committee on gay and lesbian student needs at the University. The Network Initiative, one of the first programs implemented, was designed to promote understanding and facilitate dialogue in the Notre Dame community.

“I met quite a few students in the late 90s and early part of this decade through that program,” Gude said.

The standing committee is now the Core Council, which hosts events such as CommUnity and Solidarity Sunday in support of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community.

“Catholic theology is founded on marriage, and sexual acts should take place in a marriage,” Gude said. “On the other hand, LGBT deserve not just tolerance, but our respect and acceptance.”

She also said the goals of the standing committee and Core Council are not based on activism.

“We were not activists. We just want people to be accepted for who they were,” she said.