A story for Mary
Lesley Stevenson | Tuesday, September 9, 2014
To the Most Blessed Virgin Mary,
Happy birthday! With your special day, the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, being yesterday and all, I wanted to drop you a line just to say thanks. And in honor of the occasion, let me tell you a story.
A long time ago in a galaxy — err, city — far, far away … a displaced five-year-old found herself entering uncharted territory when her parents enrolled her in an all-girls Episcopalian prep school rather than the co-ed Catholic kindergarten just down the street. There was no room at the inn, so to speak; the kindergarten didn’t have room for the timid tot, and so she sojourned onward into the unknown.
Fourteen years later, she graduated from St. Mary’s Episcopal School and moved to a place where students studied under the same name — your name — but said it in French, because we at Notre Dame are all about producing global citizens.
Here, she learned how you, St. Mary, can — and did — move a whole legion of fans to cry out in support of our football team, our University and you through the singing of the Alma Mater. She saw how you gleam on top of our golden dome all day, every day, and how you comforted her through long nights of stress and anxiety at the Grotto.
She discovered why her high school and University had chosen you as their patron saint: everyone needs a mother, and here, away from our homes, you are the common cause that guides and supports us all. Notre Dame is our mother, and we are the Notre Dame family.
The Friday before classes started, I stood under the Dome in front of the first-year students of Breen-Phillips Hall as their first-year orientation commissioner and told them this same story. I explained how you’ve led me academically for the last 16 years and how you, Notre Dame, can inspire them the way you have inspired me.
You are the comfort we need as well as the challenge we accept to better serve our brothers and sisters. Everyone needs a mother, and your love is for us all, regardless of our backgrounds and experiences.
Well, Mother Mary, it’s been a ride. And your family’s growing! My younger brother’s a freshman here now, and this is the first time he’s studied at a place named after you. Remember that big thunderstorm the first week of school? He called me just to be sure I’d heard the weather alert. He’s a sweet kid, and he understands what your family is all about.
The Church celebrated you especially yesterday, but we celebrate you every day. We see you, always looking your best, gleaming in gold come rain or shine, hell or high water.
We trust you’re always there, watching over all of us and reminding us of what it means to be the Notre Dame family.