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Five hall rectors leaving Notre Dame at end of academic year

Brandon Keelan | Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Residents of Farley Hall are used to knocking on rector Sr. Carrine Etheridge’s door to ask for advice and to walk Etheridge’s dog, Farley. But after 19 years as rector of Farley Hall, Etheridge will take Farley the dog from her namesake hall when she returns to Virginia to be closer to her 91-year-old mother.

In addition to Etheridge, the rectors of Breen-Philips Hall, Keenan Hall, Stanford Hall and Zahm House will leave Notre Dame at the end of the academic year.

  Reflecting on her time in Farley, Etheridge said she values not only the character and history of her hall, but also the accomplishments of the women who have lived there.

 “They come in as little high school girls, but they leave as young women who are ready to do amazing things,” Etheridge said. “[They] fly jet planes and do research. We’ve got people who work in Congress. We’ve got people who are doctors now. We’ve got women in the law. We’ve got one who’s been on the [University] board of trustees.”

Etheridge said she remembers Sept. 11, 2001, as a particularly memorable day in Farley’s history due to the strong sense of community fostered between residents and across campus.

“We had women here in the dorm who didn’t know whether their parents were safe or not,” she said. “That was really scary. I think the plane struck at 9 or 9:30 in the morning, and I think it was like [by] 2 o’clock or 3 o’clock we had a full orchestra, we had 10,000 chairs up. We had a couple hundred priests. It was amazing.”

Etheridge said the most important lesson she has learned at Notre Dame is what it means to be a member of the Notre Dame family.

“Every year I tell [graduating seniors], you never really leave Notre Dame,” she said. “It’s so true. Sooner or later, everybody gets back.”

Fr. Tom Gaughan became rector of Stanford Hall in 1992 after serving as an assistant rector in Sorin College for five years.

  Like Etheridge, Gaughan said seeing the Notre Dame community unite on Sept. 11 stands out as a special moment during his tenure on campus. He said he remembers his residents coming together, praying and wanting to give blood in order to help relief efforts.

“What stands out about that day is the Notre Dame community coming together to support one another and to pray for each other and for the world,” Gaughan said.

Above all, Gaughan said mentoring students has been the most fulfilling aspect of his role as rector.

“I have always found and felt such an amazing privilege to be invited to walk with people in their lives,” he said. “That’s such a humbling and awesome privilege.”

Gaughan, who completed his Doctor of Ministry in preaching in 2009, said he plans to turn his dissertation into a book when he leaves his position as rector.

“I’m hoping to have a little sabbatical time, but then to return to this ministry, hopefully in residence in a hall,” Gaughan said.

Rachel Kellogg has served as rector of Breen-Phillips Hall since 2005. During that time, she said, her conversations with students in the early hours of the morning became an important part of her Notre Dame experience.

“By our front door, we have a table and a couple of chairs. People often end up starting conversations there,” Kellogg said.

“Notre Dame students are so intelligent and so interesting, and for me, it’s really fun to talk to so many bright people who have so many ideas and enthusiasms.”

Serving as a rector in a Notre Dame residence hall has reinforced the true meaning of Holy Cross and Catholic teaching, Kellogg said.

“For me, being a rector has really brought home the Holy Cross charism of hospitality,” she said. “I’ve learned that hospitality of spirit is the most important thing, because if you show people that you are ready to listen to them, and that you care about them, that can really change people’s lives and it can change your life too, because you learn from other people.”

Zahm rector Corry Colonna has led the hall since 2007, and he said his relationship with his residents has been the most rewarding part of his job.

“The best part about being a rector is the opportunity to walk with people on an important part of their life’s journey,” Colonna said.

During Colonna’s first year as rector the men of Zahm recreated the “Here Come the Irish” banner that hangs on the front façade of the hall during football weekends.

“We rented out the Stepan Center, and probably 60 to 70 guys were involved from helping to lay it out and paint it to figure out how to hang it up,” Colonna said.

Colonna said the most challenging aspects of his position are itseround-the-clock responsibilities and having to be prepared at a moment’s notice for anything.

One such experience occurred when a Zahm resident’s mother was involved in a car accident in the middle of the night.

“I had to wake [the student] up and talk to him about it, and actually then went with him to the hospital,” Colonna said. “You want to be there for your students, but it’s also hard to find some balance in your own life.”