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Masses develop identity, loyal following

Justin Tardiff | Thursday, October 6, 2005

Each Sunday, sounds heard emanating from residence halls on campus take on a different tone from those usually heard in a college dorm, as students attend Masses offered in each dorm.

Junior Ann Flies lives in Pasquerilla West Hall, but every other week she attends Mass at Siegfried Hall rather than at her own dorm. She said this is partly for the music selections, but also because she enjoys the service offered by Siegfried’s regular priest and rector Father John Conley.

“There is more camaraderie at the dorm Masses,” Flies said. “You know everyone there, as opposed to at home when you just know your family and family friends. The Masses are also geared toward a younger group, and the attire is more casual.”

Father Richard Warner, the director of Campus Ministry, estimates the percentage of students who regularly attend Mass at Notre Dame to be at least 70 to 75 percent.

“The rectors report that the dorm Sunday Masses are full this year and so are the Masses at the Basilica, where a significant number of students worship,” Warner said. “The congregation at the 11:45 a.m. Mass is almost all students, and there are a significant number of them at the 10 a.m. and the 5 p.m. vigil Mass on Saturday.”

Every undergraduate dorm has a chapel that offers mass on Sunday, and many offer Mass at different times throughout the week. St. Edward’s Hall has a Spanish Mass that is offered twice a week. At Dillon Hall, milkshakes follow Mass on Thursdays. Sorin, Stanford and Walsh Halls all offer Mass following home football games.

The Basilica is another available option for Sunday or weekday Masses.

Lauren Prieto, a campus ministry intern, describes the advantage of the dorm Masses over the Basilica.

“The dorm Masses offer a close-knit community and camaraderie in the residence halls,” Prieto said. “It is a more personal experience. You are physically in a smaller space, and you know most of the people there.”

As a campus ministry intern, Prieto works with the musical and liturgical commissioners in each dorm. Her guidance provides a starting point for the commissioners in each dorm to shape their Masses and develop traditions unique to their particular dorm.

“These Masses stress the importance of the liturgy – it is an integral part of dorm life,” she said.

The prominence of Mass in the life of a Notre Dame undergraduate instills in students a routine that continues beyond graduation.

“A recent study of Mass attendance by graduates of 24 Catholic colleges and universities ten years after graduation, which was carried out about three years ago, indicates that about 75 percent of Notre Dame graduates attend Mass weekly ten years after their graduation,” Warner said. “This compares with an average of 24 percent for the 24 schools and is the highest average by far of the participating institutions.”

Warner said the numbers are impressive but said the main important qualities of the dorm Masses are “how prayerful these residence hall Masses are, how well the students participate and what a significant role they play in the lives of our undergrads.”