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Student government to sponsor teaching Mass for community members

| Friday, September 1, 2017

Student government will be hosting a “Welcome Back Teaching Mass” to educate students on the workings of Catholic Mass in the Stanford-Keenan Hall chapel Sunday night.

Organized by junior Keenan White, the student government director of faith and service, the Teaching Mass will feature a dialogic Mass led by Fr. Lou DelFra, the priest-in-residence at Keenan Hall, who will explain the theology behind the main parts of Catholic Mass.

“It’s still just a regular Mass, but the priest is literally explaining everything he’s doing so you actually get a feel for what’s going on on the more theological side,” White said.

White said the inspiration behind the idea came from feedback she received signifying that students of different faith backgrounds don’t receive much ministering on campus. After hearing of the quality of Teaching Masses Fr. DelFra has led in the past, White reached out to him during the summer and has been preparing for the event since.

“When about 80 percent of the student body is Catholic, I can totally understand how it could be intimidating to come here as a non-Catholic student,” White said. “What we can do to incorporate our Catholic tradition and values with students of different faith backgrounds is to make it a hospitable environment for them to learn about our faith.”

All students are invited to attend. DelFra said attendees can stop the Mass at any point to ask what is happening or why he is doing something, saying something or gesturing in a particular way.

“[The Mass is] so powerful, it has transformed my and countless people’s lives over the centuries — and I hope students will come to some glimpses of that power and that beauty,” DelFra said. “And also to see that the various components of the Mass are not arbitrary but have deep and really beautiful meaning to them.”

DelFra said he hopes students — whether non-Catholic or Catholic — will come to not only a deeper understanding of Catholicism after the Mass, but also a deeper appreciation and love of “the beautiful sacrament.”

“I’m really excited that it came at the request of the current student body, showing their growing interest, and even joy, in this sacrament that is at the very heart of our Catholic identity,” DelFra said. “It is such a beautiful gesture of hospitality towards students who are not as familiar with the Catholic faith.”

The Mass is expected to last about an hour starting at 7 p.m. Depending on the attendance, White said she hopes student government can continue hosting the Mass annually.

“I would hope that it brings awareness to the kind of community that the Mass is at Notre Dame,” White said. “A lot of times we’re dozing off or it’s just mundane because we go every week, so to be more present and engaged in the Mass when it’s being explained to you and you’re getting the behind-the-scenes tour will be cool for Catholic students.”

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About Kelli Smith

Kelli Smith is a senior at the University of Notre Dame. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she served as Editor-in-Chief at The Observer for the 2019-20 term. She is pursuing majors in political science and television with a minor in journalism. // Twitter: @KelliSmithNews

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