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Club promotes family values

Marisa Iati | Wednesday, February 13, 2013

To encourage students to build healthy relationships, members of the Rodzinka: Little Family club are promoting discussion about traditional perspectives on dating, marriage and the family.

The club, whose name means “little family” in Polish in honor of a small group of college students Pope John Paul II ministered to when he was a parish priest in Poland, addresses alternatives to the college “hookup culture,” speaker coordinator Tim Kirchoff said.

“You need to be able to examine the alternatives to it in a coherent way and in a way that allows people to share experiences meaningfully – give people an idea of what’s really possible with marriage and family life and how to go about achieving that,” Kirchoff said.

Although Rodzinka has been operating on campus for approximately six years, Kirchoff said it became an official student club at the beginning of the fall semester and currently consists of undergraduate and graduate students.

Kirchoff said a professor or other University community member speaks to the approximately 20 students over informal dinner conversations Thursdays in the Knights of Columbus Council Hall. The presentation typically lasts half an hour and is followed by discussion, he said.

“The format we have now … empowers professors to be able to talk about these issues with students and lets them know it’s something we are willing to listen to them about,” Kirchoff said.

Previous speakers presented about Christian dating, marriage preparation and infant development, Kirchoff said, and the group meets at the end of each semester to choose future speakers.

“We generally have a list of people we know would be interested in speaking or from whom we’d like to hear,” Kirchoff said. “This is the officer board and generally people who would show up to any meeting anyway because they’re the people who show up to a planning session.”

Speakers must have personal experience with the issues they discuss, Kirchoff said.

“They have to have a story they can share,” he said. “It can’t just be totally speculative.”

Knights of Columbus sponsors the discussion series, Kirchoff said, and the national Knights organization bestowed an award upon the Notre Dame chapter during the 2011-12 school year for its sponsorship of the Rodzinka discussion series.  

The Love and Fidelity Network also sponsors Rodzinka by providing funding and advising the club about presentation topics, Kirchoff said.

“Love and Fidelity is a national network of college students … trying to get people to reexamine concepts like dignity, romance and how they relate to college life, trying to foster lives of personal and sexual integrity on campus,” Kirchoff said.

Kirchoff said Rodzinka will soon put up posters on campus on behalf of the Love and Fidelity Network to promote conversation about romance and dignity.  

 “It’s not judgmental,” Kirchoff said. “It wants to get people to honestly examine what they want out of a dating relationship or any sort of relationship on campus.”

Kirchoff said he hopes to give students who are busy during the Thursday evening meeting time other opportunities to interact with professors. He said he is also interested in bringing professors of political science to speak to the club.

“I’ve often heard it said that from the perspective of political theory, either the family is the base unit of society or it’s the school of charity,” Kirchoff said. “Every government has as its foundation the family unit.”

Contact Marisa Iati at [email protected]