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Basilica call-in day brings nerves, community effort

| Thursday, March 8, 2018

The sun is shining, birds are chirping and even the most stubborn snow piles have melted. Spring is — dare we say it — in the air, and Monday was a day marked on Notre Dame couples’ calendars months in advance. Monday was “Basilica call-in” day.

2019 wedding dates for the Basilica of the Sacred Heart opened for reservation Monday, and for those couples that have already passed “go,” collected their ring and moved on to the planning stages, Monday marked the first step in their save-the-date process. Kate Barrett, associate director of liturgy for Campus Ministry, said 122 spots are up for grabs in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and 60 of those spots are normally filled by the end of the first day.

Barrett said in an email that the most coveted spots are afternoons in June and July. According to Campus Ministry’s webpage, the Basilica is open for weddings at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Fridays during the summer and Saturdays at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. However, she explained, these times and dates are contingent upon events at the University. Weddings are not held in the Basilica during home football weekends, commencement, ordinations and Welcome Weekend, for example.

Additionally, at least one member of the couple must be a current Notre Dame student, an alumni, a member of Sacred Heart Parish or a faculty or staff member who has worked at the University for at least five years.

Kaelyn Fox and Jared Diesslin, both Notre Dame juniors, were engaged on Jan. 1 at the Grotto. The couple plans to get married in the summer of 2019, and was gearing up for the flurry of phone calls and busy signals they’d experience on Monday. While both Notre Dame students, their reasons for aiming to celebrate their wedding in the Basilica go beyond merely their education.

“[The Basilica] is more like my home parish than the parish that I’ve been going to for awhile because we switched parishes when I was in eighth grade, so I’ve been going to the Basilica since I was seven,” Fox, a South Bend native, said. “For me, that’s almost more home than anything else.”

The couple planned to travel to Fox’s home on Monday to gather with family members from both sides in hopes that one would find their way through the sea of calls to the Basilica office.

“We’re all going to be calling starting right at 8 a.m., just have all of our phones lined up and just be hitting redial, bringing a bunch of phone chargers with us, hitting redial until we get in, basically,” Diesslin said. “We’ve heard of some people taking several hours to get in, we might be there most of the day.”

Couples calling in to the Basilica often enlist other family members and friends to call throughout the day, and Fox said that they day itself can be “intense.” However, she and Diesslin said they planned to go off campus to call on Monday to relieve some of the stress.

“If we’re with our families and then making a fun time out of it, then it’s focusing on what’s most important with the wedding which is family and community and the marriage and the sacrament, because I think we’ll have a really good time at my house just hitting redial,” Fox said. “If it was just me in my room calling, and Jared in his room calling, it would be kind of nerve-wracking.”

Call-in day came, and Fox and Diesslin were pleasantly surprised; at 9:06 a.m. on Monday, their call was one of the lucky ones to get through. The couple was successful, and was able to reserve their first-choice date in June.

While the two were able to reserve their preferred date, the focus on the sacrament itself is one that Barrett also mentioned, noting that while the Basilica is a popular place to be married, and one with lots of significance to couples, Campus Ministry believes the wedding and reception shouldn’t be a “giant, over-the-top (often financially crippling) ‘event.’”

“We in Campus Ministry have really been trying to figure out how we can help focus on that: a lifelong, happy, faith-filled married life, rather than just having the ‘perfect’ wedding at exactly the right time of day and month of the year,” Barrett said. “We want the Basilica to be a beautiful part of a sacred beginning.  That can happen just as easily at 9:00 a.m. as it can at 3:00 p.m., and just as easily in November as it can in June!”

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About Claire Kramer

Claire Kramer is a senior staff writer majoring in American Studies with minors in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy (JED) and Theology. A proud native Kansas Citian, she never lets anyone forget that indeed, the Royals won the World Series.

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