Students gather in prayer for victims of suicide
Simon Vogel | Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Notre Dame students gathered in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Tuesday evening for a healing and memorial prayer service organized by student government as a part of the “Glad You’re Here” event series in observance of National Suicide Prevention Week.
Upon entering the Basilica, attendees were provided with candles for a lighting at the Grotto which would take place later on during the service. Folk Choir violinist and junior Theresa Heidenreich played hymnals in the minutes preceding the service.
“We are here today to honor those who passed and the struggles we all face,” senior and co-director of health and well-being Juliette Kelley said.
Kelley called on attendees to embrace the Notre Dame education of the mind, body and spirit by taking advantage of the resources available to students — including the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being, University Health Services and Campus Ministry — if a student or someone they know is suffering.
Following Kelley’s introductory remarks, rector of the Basilica Fr. Brian C. Ching read from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans, drawing specific emphasis to the line, “If God is with us, who can be against us?”
Ching explained that it is in times of dire need when taking one’s life appears to be the only recourse for one’s suffering, God’s love is more — nothing can stand against it.
Ching continued by recalling a conversation he had with a visitor to the Basilica. The visitor, unfamiliar with the Catholic tradition of the Stations of the Cross found it “strange that in such a magnificent space there would be such vivid depiction of Christ’s pain and persecution.” But, Ching noted, that was exactly the point.
“There will be days when life is as magnificent as the gilded Basilica roof, but there will be far more days when one feels they suffer,” Ching said.
Loving God, Ching said, is the consolation in that suffering.
After Ching’s homily, a responsorial prayer was led by Mary Elizabeth Stern, student government director of faith and service. The prayers were centered around victims of suicide and those who suffer, calling on the Notre Dame community to support them. Additionally, prayers were offered for the leaders of the Catholic Church in hopes that the discourse surrounding suicide becomes destigmatized.
The Basilica service ended with a speech from junior Austin Wyman, student government co-director of health and well-being, who thanked attendees for coming and re-emphasized the resources for student well-being available through the University.
“Throughout this week and the rest of this month,” Wyman said, “we hope to continue the intention of honoring those who are lost.”
This week, Wednesday marks the final event of student government’s series: a discussion on suicide on the second floor of LaFortune Student Center at 7 p.m.
Concluding, Wyman invited students to light their candles and walk down to the Grotto for the final segment of the event. Singing the Alma Mater, the procession placed its candles and embraced and stood together in silence. When all assembled, Heidenreich played hymns on the violin as attendees prayed for those taken by or affected by suicide.
The scene of togetherness in the face of such a serious issue hearkened back to a comment made in Fr. Ching’s homily: “Let us simply be Christ for one another.”