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A Heavenly note on why the Notre Dame matters

Laura Hoffman | Friday, February 26, 2010

As a Notre Dame alumnus, it doesn’t take long to learn how much the Notre Dame family means. Some of us were blessed to have had friendships and mentors of faculty members who had a heavy presence in our lives for four years at the Golden Dome. One of those friends and mentors to me and many other Notre Dame students was Dr. Gail Walton, Director of Music at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
On Wednesday, Gail’s battle with illness ended and she joined our Notre Dame family in heaven. I share with you Gail’s impact on my life as a reminder of why the Notre Dame family matters.
I came to Notre Dame raised on Christian values but as a non-Catholic. When I auditioned for choir my freshman year in 2000, I wasn’t sure I would feel comfortable in a choir that sang at masses weekly. Gail Walton and Andrew McShane selected me to sing for the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir and I did so for four years.
Gail had a profound influence on my life beyond music. Singing at the mass at the Basilica weekly, I was exposed to the Catholic faith. Gail provided an extraordinary example to me of what it meant to be a faithful Catholic through the respect she trained us to have for our service in the liturgy and the way she personally conducted herself with class. I was baptized after graduating from Notre Dame during my first year of law school. I was touched by a stunning bouquet of flowers sent to me by Gail Walton and Andrew McShane on that special day of my entrance into the Catholic Church.
Gail Walton gave so much more to us students at Notre Dame than training and excellence in music. She brought us closer to God and made us better people. The Notre Dame family matters because of people like Dr. Gail Walton who helped us grow beyond our years at Notre Dame.
Thank you Gail, we love you and will miss your presence terribly in the Notre Dame community.

Laura Hoffman
Class of ‘04
Feb. 25