Associate director of Campus Ministry outlines Basilica Christmas programming
Tom Naatz | Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Even though nearly all students will be off-campus for Christmas, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart will still offer Masses on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this holiday season. Even though the Basilica will operate on a reduced schedule for break, Mass will be held on Christmas Eve at 5 p.m. and midnight, as well as on Christmas Day at 10 a.m.
Katie Barrett, the associate director of campus ministry — who is in charge of liturgy, including the Basilica — said in an email that there are numerous special events this December to mark Christmastime.
“We had Advent Lessons and Carols this past Sunday night as we do each year on the weekend after everyone returns from Thanksgiving. We will have Advent Vespers next week, too, at 7:15 pm,” Barrett said. “Anyone who has never experienced Vespers … should come — either on Dec. 10 or any Sunday when the University is in session. Another very special evening will be on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 5:15 p.m. when we will celebrate another great Feast during this season — the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
Barrett said this year there will have to be a “quick turnaround” on Christmas Eve. Since Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year, the fourth Sunday of Advent will be celebrated in the morning before the other two Masses later in the day. The later service on Christmas Eve will feature a community choir. All of the Christmas Masses will be officiated by Fr. Peter Rocca, the rector of the Basilica.
“We have a lovely community choir of volunteers who comes together to sing for lessons and carols (11:00 a.m.) and midnight Mass, since the student choirs will be gone at that time,” Barrett said.
Beyond that, some aspects of the Christmas Masses will be different than typical Basilica services. Other than the midnight Mass, there will be less music than usual, owing to the absence of the student choirs. The congregation of people will also be different than usual, Barrett said.
“The assembly changes a lot for these Masses. Some people come as visitors because they’re from out of town and here to visit family. Others from the Notre Dame faculty and staff choose to go to their home parishes in the area, and of course, some of them travel as well,” Barrett said. “I should also mention that a fair number of Notre Dame students are from the South Bend area, and some of them come, and even help out in the various ministries over Christmas break, which is very kind. Our community members are always very generous about helping with all the ministries, especially when most of the students are gone.”
Barrett said that although most students will not be present for the Christmas services, the decorations will be left up until students come back.
“The decorations will be beautiful — and we leave them up so that students can see them upon their return to campus,” Barrett said.
Once the Christmas Masses are complete, the Basilica will be closed as all of the church’s lighting is due to be “replaced and upgraded,” Barrett said. There will be no Masses between Dec. 26 and Jan. 5 as workers take advantage of the academic break to carry out the replacement of the lights.
On the whole, Barrett expressed a hope that the Basilica’s Christmas programming will help people to grow in their faith.
“We always just hope that everyone who attends is brought closer to God, and closer to each other. We are all the body of Christ, and Christmas is a very special time to remember that — especially when we know that so many right in our local community are suffering without proper shelter, food or clothing, just as Jesus did at the Nativity.
“Our worship should always lead us to live our lives of faith with more gratitude and a deeper desire to love as Christ loves us. Hopefully, the Basilica will be a place that opens people up to the Holy Spirit through hearing the scriptures and celebrating the sacraments together.”