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Celebrating Catholic faith

Tori Roeck | Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In an apostolic letter titled “Porta Fidei,” Pope Benedict XVI declared the year following Oct. 11, 2012, as a “Year of Faith.” The date marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the new Catechism.

Notre Dame’s Office of Campus Ministry is celebrating the Year of Faith by encouraging students to make small efforts to reflect on their Catholic identity and their relationship to the Lord, Campus Ministry program manager Katharine Barrett said.

“Part of the Year of Faith is to learn more about who we are as Catholics, so there’s sort of a learning piece of it,” Barrett said. “The main part is to deepen our relationship with God, so it’s more personal and spiritual.”

To guide students through this reflection, Campus Ministry will post monthly themes online so students can incorporate those suggestions into their Year of Faith journey, Barrett said.

“Our natural tendency for a lot of things at Notre Dame is to plan big events … In thinking about it more, we thought if you think about any developing relationship with a person, it typically becomes stronger and deeper over the long term of doing lots of little things together,” she said. “Your best friends are the ones you do normal stuff with all the time. We wanted in the Year of Faith to mimic that type of relationship through lots of little things.”

The theme for November is “sacred places.” Barrett said she encourages students to seek out sacred places on campus where most students have never been, such as the chapel in Moreau Seminary, or to revisit old ones, such as the Grotto.

“I remember finding the Grotto for the first time as a freshman – I sort of stumbled upon it by accident and was just stunned by its beauty, and by the fact that such a place was tucked away right here at Notre Dame,” Barrett said. “I hope everyone can find a place here which moves them that much and which becomes a beloved spot, a place they can return again and again for prayer, whether in grief, joy, confusion or praise.”

Students can also augment their Year of Faith experiences by reading more in the Catechism and Vatican II documents, Barrett said.

“The documents of Vatican II and the Catechism receive special recognition because they guide the faithful worldwide,” she said. “On Campus Ministry’s Year of Faith website we will highlight ways to use these two resources to find out more about the theme of each month.”

While individuals can follow the Year of Faith by keeping up with the themes posted on the Campus Ministry website, some dorm commissioners are trying to incorporate more members of their halls into these activities, Barrett said.

“Campus Ministry commissioners are working with us to create activities within the halls that will support and coincide with the Year of Faith themes and ideas,” she said. “For example, several halls already do Grotto walks together, and others will be trying them for the first time.”

Barrett said another way to better live out the Year of Faith is to share it with friends.

“If you find something online that you like, why not ask a friend to join you in that activity?” she said. “Sometimes we feel uncomfortable asking our friends to join us in a spiritual activity, but you never know who just needs to be asked – it’s worth being bold and taking a chance. You never know, for instance, who would love to go walk the Stations of the Cross around St. Joe Lake with you – just try asking.” 

To learn more about the Year of Faith, visit http://campusministry.nd.edu/about/year-of-faith/.