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Post-game Masses welcome thousands

| Friday, September 14, 2018

For Notre Dame football game attendees, the day often doesn’t end after the competition has been decided. For those interested in attending a worship service after the Irish have played a day game, Masses are celebrated about 30 minutes after the close of every home game played.

On these days, there are post-game Masses at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Crypt of the Sacred Heart, DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC) and six male residence halls across campus. For night games, there are Masses before the game, at 4 p.m. at the Basilica and in the same residence halls, and at 4:30 p.m. in DPAC.

Karen Schneider-Kirner, choral program director and organist, said people attend Notre Dame football games not only for the actual games, but for what Notre Dame, as a Catholic institution, offers spiritually.

“What’s very unique about the game-day Mass is that people come here not just for the football games, but they also really want the spiritual connection,” Schneider-Kirner, who also directs Handbell Choir, said. “That’s just a very important part of what happens as part of their weekend. So we just try to do our best to make the Masses as beautiful as possible because we know how much they’re appreciated by those coming to campus these weekends.”

Schneider-Kirner deals specifically with the post-game Masses that are in DPAC, opposed to the Basilica post-game Masses that happen at the same time. DPAC Masses only started about five years ago to fill the need for more space and a quality sound arena once Basilica post-game Masses filled up, Schneider-Kirner said.

“Previously they were held over at Stepan Center, which was not the most ideal location for sound,” she said. “I know everyone would love to be able to go to the Basilica after home football weekends, but it was just a setup as a separate site to accommodate the overflow crowds who could not get into the Basilica.”

Although the Basilica is a well-known site, Schneider-Kirner said it can hold about 1,200 people maximum, which is where the Masses at DPAC came in. Although DPAC is not normally used as a place of worship, it has turned into “a prayerful, reverent, beautiful space,” she said, and typically sees around 500 to 600 visitors during these football post-game Masses.

“We do find that after home football games, if we lose there, there might be fewer people in attendance at Mass, interestingly enough,” Schneider-Kirner said.

She said the opposing team’s fans also often attend these Masses, “which is nice to see.”

“Of course, if they come from Catholic colleges, we notice even more of a surge,” Schneider-Kirner said. “For the most part, I think we try to break down all rivalries and just welcome everyone who’s taken the time to come to Mass.”

Many students participate in the post-game Masses as members of the choirs at the services.

The Women’s Liturgical Choir (WLC) is among those groups that participate. Senior Megan Wilson, president of the Notre Dame WLC, said in an email that singing during Mass after a spirited football game is an unparalleled experience.

“The feeling you’ll get singing to an entire Basilica full of football fans and visitors after the Irish take home a win is something that really can’t be beat,” Wilson said.

Football Masses give game spectators, visitors and singers alike a unique bonding experience, Wilson said.

“Football Masses give us a unique opportunity to pray with and worship alongside visitors to campus. In a lot of ways, football Masses and the ministry of the Women’s Liturgical Choir help people pray on game day,” she said. “I love that our choir is able to enhance the incorporation of faith into the experience of ND football fans.”

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