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Website fosters faith

Tori Roeck | Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Notre Dame Alumni Association launched a new website, FaithND, to extend the University’s spiritual resources beyond campus in an effort to fill a void for religious guidance online.

Spirituality program director Angie Appleby Purcell said the site is available to people of all faith traditions interested in exploring Catholicism, even if they are not affiliated with the University.

“As a Catholic university steeped in rich tradition, with wonderful resources of faculty, staff, students and alumni trying to live the University’s mission in terms of how to be a people of faith, a Catholic community into the world, we want to be able to provide good quality resources and enrichment for the spiritual and faith journey that we all are on,” Purcell said.

FaithND offers a variety of informative services, such as video reflections on liturgical seasons and scripture passages, online courses and opportunities to ask questions about the Catholic faith, Purcell said.

One of the best ways to stay engaged with one’s faith is to sign up for the daily email newsletter that includes the day’s Gospel reading, a written reflection on it, a short prayer and a profile of a saint, she said.

“[Every morning] I grab my iPhone on the side of my bed, and I read the reflection and the prayer and the saint of the day, and many people start their day with that first step,” Purcell said.

More than 9,000 people have signed up for the daily email subscription thus far, Purcell said.

Another important feature of the website is the ability to submit prayer requests at the Grotto, a service that existed even before FaithND but is now streamlined. The Alumni Association received more than 24,000 of these requests last year, Purcell said, and they still manage to light a candle for every one.

“The Grotto is a significant part of the spiritual imagination of people who are formed here,” she said “They can’t be there in that sacred space, but they certainly can allow us who are here on campus to pray on their behalf.”

While most of these services fall under the sphere of prayer, the FaithND website includes three other sections: “Live,” “Serve” and “Explore.”

The “Live” section provides monthly themes for reflection on how to live a life of faith, Purcell said.

“This month, because we’re very mindful of November being All Saints [Day] and remembering holy people in our lives, we’re focusing on the call to holiness, not from the standpoint of ‘I have to be a Mother Teresa,’ but, ‘In my daily life, how am I called and how can I make decisions based on how to be a better, more holy person?'” she said.

The “Serve” section focuses on ways to give back to the community of faith, Purcell said.

“[It] talks about how through our faith we are called to service through Catholic Social Tradition, what does that look like, how are we at Notre Dame forming leaders for the Church?” she said.

The “Explore” section addresses the intellectual aspects of faith, Purcell said, and it strives to answer the questions, “How do we explore the Catholic intellectual side of what we offer on campus, and how can that inform us as we move forward in life?”

Purcell said FaithND was developed after months of research on the spiritual desires of the Notre Dame community, especially those of young alumni.

“This came about ultimately from our constituency, our larger Notre Dame family, internally and externally, as to where Notre Dame could help them in continuing to grow in faith,” she said. “It was really a mandate from our constituency and our Notre Dame family.”

Those interested in exploring the resources available though FaithND can visit faith.nd.edu

Contact Tori Roeck at vroeck@nd.edu