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Prayer, not just silence

Steven Granados | Sunday, April 28, 2013

One of my strongest memories in my six years near the Dome was the reaction of our community after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The mass on South Quad that afternoon was a profound spiritual experience, one that moved me then and is something I cherish deeply in my heart to this day.
When football resumed on September 23, 2001, it was a moving and emotional day, though I remember finding it odd that at the University of Notre Dame, with the attention of many (including the 80,000 in the stands) all together, public prayer was not a part of events at the stadium when remembering those who died so tragically. We did, however, observe a moment of silence together.
At the time, the issue was not on my personal periphery, but the issue of prayer (or lack thereof) at Notre Dame stadium is a debate I have heard from many, especially as a part of the continuing discussion regarding Notre Dame’s Catholic identity. It’s something that definitely was on my mind when visiting Brigham Young University’s Cougar stadium in 2004 and seeing their community come together for prayer before the game, with the reason being that’s what they do. It’s something that has remained on my mind, especially when I wonder why Catholics seem so hesitant to be evangelical (the word alone makes many Catholics cringe with regard to Christianity, myself included), or even at times embarrassed to show their faith.
After the tragic death of Declan Sullivan two years ago, I was encouraged to see the Notre Dame community come together spiritually, including in prayer at the next football game.
Now, as a teacher at a Catholic school as well as a partner with Notre Dame’s “Play Like a Champion” character education program which touts coaches as ministers, one of the accomplishments I am very proud of is when our athletic directors in San Diego’s North County Parochial League “mandated” pre-game prayer. What I find ironic is, why during the annual Blue/Gold game did the University opt for a “moment of silence,” a more secular practice, rather than a prayer? Was there fear a prayer from a religious university would offend the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing? The University of Notre Dame is the most visible Catholic university in the United States and perhaps in the whole world, so it is perplexing why it does not openly lead prayer at its games, especially in instances where it believes a “moment of silence” will suffice?

Steven Granados
class of 2003
April 22