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Campus Ministry, SCC encourage emotional well-being with positivity board

| Monday, October 12, 2020

Uncertainty, loneliness, fear, frustration, anxiety, gratitude, hope, love.

These were some of the most common emotions Notre Dame students who participated in The Fighting Irish Project said they have been feeling during the fall semester.

The Fighting Irish Project was an initiative conceived by Fr. Pete McCormick to connect the community in the time of COVID-19.

Last Tuesday, McCormick asked students to fill out a google form naming the most common emotions they have felt throughout the semester. The responses were compiled and organized into an 8×8 ft canvas spelling out the phrase “The Fighting Irish.” The canvas was displayed between the Duncan Student Center and Debartolo Hall last Friday.

“It was an effort to legitimize what folks are feeling in these unprecedented times,” McCormick said.

McCormick said he has spoken to students who have felt the challenge of coping with a difficult semester, the anxiety of an uncertain future and the loneliness of being away from their friends. McCormick said the goal of this project was to acknowledge the struggles students have faced this semester while also fostering hope.

Senior Anne Ritten, member of Senior Class Council (SCC), said her team had a similar idea earlier in the week to place positivity boards throughout campus to help improve the emotional well-being of the student body.

“On Tuesday I got an email from Fr. Pete and he’s like, ‘Hey I’m working on a project called The Fighting Irish Project. It sounds like you have something similar going on,’” Ritten said.

SCC partnered with McCormick and Campus Ministry to make this event happen. During the day, students were invited to write phrases of hope around the printed words on the board in colored sharpie markers.

“We wanted to make this an event people are actually a part of,” Ritten said. “They are putting their own mark on the mural.”

Senior and member of SCC Connor Bert said he wanted both on-campus and off-campus students to take part in writing words of positivity on the canvas, and they took off-campus students into consideration when they planned the location of the event.

“So many students have decided to live off-campus because of the pandemic, but a majority walk through the Duncan Center lot to get to their classes every day,” Bert said.

Bert said he hopes that through this project students understand that they are all in the same struggle together.

“You’re not the only one who is afraid of what the pandemic may bring, you’re not the only one who is feeling alone and homesick,” Bert said.

Tommy Filip | The Observer

Senior Connor Bert, junior Tim Purnell and Fr. Pete McCormick worked to organize The Fighting Irish Project to connect students through their struggles during the pandemic.

As in-person events have been limited this year by the University in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, this event allowed the community to come together while maintaining health and safety protocols, Ritten said.

Tami Schmitz, associate director of pastoral care for Campus Ministry, also helped with the planning of this event. She said she wanted to make God known, loved and served with this project, and she thinks many good conversations have come out of it.

The board will be hung up above the entrance to Duncan Student Center near the Hagerty Family Café.

Senior Kelly Liang, a member of SCC, stressed the value of hanging the mural within Duncan.

“Putting it in Duncan makes it a lasting reminder,” Liang said. “It’s a sign of hope that you get when you walk in the student center, a reminder that people are going through the same thing.”

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