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Web site brings ND spirituality to world

Molly Madden | Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spirituality plays a dynamic role in the life of the Notre Dame community, even those not on campus. The University has its own prayer Web site, pray.nd.edu, to allow people from across the world to participate in the University’s rich prayer life.

“”The purpose of the site is to help people connect with their spirituality,”” Kathleen Sullivan, senior Director of Spirituality and Service at the Alumni Association and one of the creators of the Web site, said.?

Sullivan came up with the idea for the site three years ago when a new position had been created within the Alumni Office.?

“”We were focusing on spirituality and wanted a way to touch as many people as possible,”” Sullivan said. “”My dream was to find a way that we could bring the vibrant spiritual experience of Notre Dame into homes, workplaces and schools.””?

After a year of planning and designing, the site was launched in 2007. There were about 22 key people involved with the planning and actual creation of the site including individuals from the Alumni Office, Web Office, Campus Ministry and a few faculty members.

Funding for the site came from class of 1950 alumnus, Art Frericks.?

“”Not only did Art give us the money we needed to get the Web site up, but he also helped me with the design,”” Sullivan said.?

Many aspects of the site are specifically designed to connect the spiritual atmosphere of Notre Dame to those who cannot physically be on campus to experience it for themselves.?

The site features a weekly video that goes to a different spot on campus and incorporates religious activities so that people away from Notre Dame can watch the video and participate as if they were on campus.?

“”People can see these different sacred spaces of Notre Dame and get put into a reflective, spiritual mood,””Sullivan said. “It also allows them to practically live the Gospel.””?

There is also a section on the site that allows anyone to submit a prayer request that will then be prayed for at the Grotto on Thursday evenings.?

“We have a green candle that is lit for a week in the Grotto,” Sullivan said. “We get 125 prayer requests a day for their prayers to be said at the Grotto. The green candle burns for a week for those prayers and then we put in a new candle for the next week’s prayers.”?

Every prayer request that is received by the site gets a response through e-mail, according to Sullivan.?

“”We have responded to 13,000 prayers since the site began two years ago,” she said.?

The concept of being connected to the Grotto from anywhere in the world has been popular and is responsible for attracting many visitors to the Web site.?

“”It was such a simple idea that has really taken off,”” Sullivan said. “But we really wanted to be ambassadors for people at the Grotto and I think this is a great way to accomplish that.””?

The site allows visitors to print off prayer cards on topics such as unemployment, marriage, healing and gratitude.?

“The prayer cards are meant to be relevant for people today,” Sullivan said. “We are going to be putting up more with topics such as depression, divorce, stress and others.”

The site also features reflections on the various Gospels. Until recently, Sullivan or faculty members had written these reflections. However, Notre Dame students will begin to contribute some of the reflections next month.?

“I really wanted some student involvement. We want to learn through our students, and we hope that students writing the reflections will bring more awareness to the site from the student body as well as from their family members,” Sullivan said.?

As a whole, Sullivan believes her vision of a Web site that would allow people from all over to connect with their spirituality and the faith life at Notre Dame has been actualized.?

“I hope this site helps people to feel God’s presence in their day-to-day life and encourage them to live life with integrity and that Notre Dame is with them in their faith journey,” Sullivan said.