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Student initiates e-reflection Bible study group to foster community, faith

| Monday, March 30, 2020

Senior Mar Diego came back to campus at the end of spring break with hopes to resume in-person classes in late March.  

Diego, an international student, came back to campus knowing that disruptions would be present already, but said she thought she would still be able to attend the daily service in the Basilica. Diego said she has been attending daily mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart since her sophomore year. 

“The 5:15 p.m. commitment has become such a huge part of my day,” she said.

She described daily Mass as a place of community for her. 

On March 17, Bishop Kevin Rhoades announced the suspension of masses in the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. 

“It was that piece of news, and that final rip of a Band-Aid, that broke my heart,” Diego said. 

Diego said she found inspiration at the Basilica to start the virtual faith-sharing group. 

“When we were all in that last mass of the Basilica, it gave me a lot of comfort that I looked around and saw that I wasn’t the only one crying,” Diego said. “I thought this was a call to use this time to try to build and keep up the faith community that Notre Dame does very much have.”

She said she came up with the idea by looking around and knowing in her heart that other people might also benefit from some support from other Notre Dame students.

To start the virtual group, Diego said she created a Google survey asking students for their name, email address, desired frequency, preferred time of day and a free-response question. 

The group now meets on Sunday afternoons at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. 

Diego said she decided to structure the meeting around members reading the first reading, second reading and the Gospel of the day, and then asking some questions or offering some reflection to help start conversation. 

Though formed in response to actions taken due to the pandemic, the group is not explicitly framed in light of COVID-19, Diego said. 

“Each reflection on Sunday will be mainly centered around whatever themes come across the readings and gospel,” Diego said. “I think a lot of what we might be reading from these stories, from these accounts are inevitably going to relate to our current feelings.” 

Diego said she has hopes to expand the group, which she has called the Sunday Spiritual Social, in the coming weeks.

Five Notre Dame students –– all seniors –– attended the first session Sunday via Zoom. 

Senior Elizabeth Summers attended the social and spoke about the necessity of the group in creating community for students. 

I think it’s been difficult for a lot of people being both isolated from their friends at school and the Notre Dame community, as well as their church communities,” Summers said. “For a lot of people, especially at Notre Dame, it may be odd not to be able to go to regular Masses.” 

Summers said the conversation was easygoing and felt natural on Zoom. 

“I think having a smaller group helped form a more comfortable environment because we didn’t have to worry about talking over each other as much and have plenty of time for everyone to talk, or at least feel comfortable enough to talk,” Summers said.

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