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ThinkND’s new podcast series aims to answer life’s biggest questions

| Wednesday, April 7, 2021

ThinkND will launch a new podcast called “The Heart’s Desire and Social Change” April 15. This series, hosted by vice president and associate provost Fr. Daniel Groody, aims to guide students seeking to answer life’s biggest questions. 

Groody graduated from Notre Dame in 1986, majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies. He credited the major with helping him learn how to ask questions about life and engage in meaningful conversation with other people. In acting on those skills, he discovered a new calling.  

“I didn’t come here thinking I was going to be a priest. But through a series of experiences, I really began exploring what my vocation was,” Groody said. 

However, he realized he lacked the outlet he felt he needed as a student to help answer the questions. 

“I didn’t really have anybody at the time that could help me sort through a lot of those questions,” Groody said. “There were certainly some good priests that helped me through some of that but I wish I would have had a class that could help me sort through some of the deeper desires of my life and what they spoke to.”

In addition to serving as an associate professor of theology and global affairs, Groody created the class he said he needed as a student. He called it Heart’s Desire & Social Change. After garnering much popularity, ThinkND partnered with Groody to take the lessons taught in the course to the broader Notre Dame community in the form of a podcast. 

“This class, and now podcast, is about discernment, about meaning, about purpose, about the true self, about trying to find how to live life and to live well.” Groody said. “Ultimately, it is about figuring out really what are the things that endure and matter and how does one live life in accordance with that.” 

Yu-Tzu Chang, a junior studying biochemistry and theology, said Groody’s course gave her a new perspective on how to see the world. 

One of the core principles of the class that resonated with Chang was embracing humility. 

“If you have the humility to be yourself, then you’re the most unique person in the world,” Chang said. 

Chang noted that everyone has their own gifts, talents and way of contributing to the world. She said Groody pushes one to figure out who they are through their own eyes before guiding them in matching that up to the world around them. 

Chang did not shy away from noting how challenging this is for college students, especially students at Notre Dame. 

“A lot of times we go into college and we think like we need to figure out our entire life right away,” she said. 

Chang said the stress from these challenges builds over time and results in unhealthy habits. 

“We get thrown into that hole of thinking we need to just keep moving forward in life and try to achieve as many things that we can, but I think the most important part of college is not that at all; it’s figuring out who you are,” Chang said. 

Groody echoed this idea of focusing on the wrong external noise.

“We spend a lot of time reading about other texts of other people’s lives or other material outside of us, but we don’t spend enough time reading the text of our own life — and in a disciplined way, in a way that actually goes deeper into understanding who we are,” he said. 

He said too many people spend their time emulating other people and not enough time trying to clarify what their own story is. Groody hopes the course and podcast will push students to identify their values and then find ways to connect those values to build a landscape of their life.

With the podcast, Groody wants to help listeners be at peace with their true selves and strengthen the community.

“The podcast is meant to stimulate reflection so that the conversations students have with others are conversations that are really of substance and depth, and that students walk away from these conversations feeling more aligned with what matters because of the value of the conversation,” he said.

One of Groody’s goals when educating is to nurture the kind of meaningful conversation that helps people grow. In connecting with students through this podcast, he hopes to encourage people to have more of these meaningful interactions with others. 

In conversation with his colleagues and Groody, senior Adam Achecar, who is majoring in science pre-professional with a supplemental major in theology, was inspired to take on a new challenge after graduation. 

“By participating in this course, I discovered my intersecting passion between my faith and medicine, which propelled me into applying to medical school this year,” Achecar said.

He is excited that the topics he discussed in the classroom with his colleagues will become available to the greater community through the podcast. 

I hope that in listening to this podcast, people will be able to discover what their true and false selves are, which will eventually lead them to an idea of what their hearts desire is,” Achecar said. 

Groody believes the “Heart’s Desire and Social Change” podcast can help people act in ways that align with others, not simply themselves. 

Achecar thinks expanding this perspective to more Notre Dame students has the ability to ignite campus in a new way. He believes this addition to ThinkND has the potential to create “a campus full of motivation and drive that will inevitably translate into unmeasurable success and outreach throughout the community of ND and beyond.” 

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