Eight Notre Dame residential communities welcome new rectors
Peter Breen | Friday, August 18, 2023
Nearly a quarter of Notre Dame’s 33 undergraduate residential communities received new rectors this academic year.
Rectors serve as pastoral leaders and administrators for the 17 men’s and 15 women’s residence halls on campus. A rector will also guide the University’s new Undergraduate Community at Fisher.
Every freshman and 80% of sophomores, juniors and seniors live on campus under the supervision of rectors, according to Undergraduate Admissions.
Dillon Hall’s new rector, Edward Dolphin, a seminarian with the Congregation of Holy Cross who graduated in May with a master’s degree in divinity, will be professing his final religious vows later this month.
Dolphin said during his time at Moreau Seminary he met many fellow seminarians who attended Notre Dame as undergraduates and had transformative experiences in their halls.
The seminarians who graduated from Notre Dame “were super complimentary of their (residential assistants), rectors and assistant rectors about how those guys were really good mentors, good role models and good people to go to for help,” Dolphin said.
“Once I heard about how great of an opportunity (becoming a rector) was to help students, especially when they’re first beginning their years in college, that sounded like a great opportunity, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Sarah Motter, the new rector leading the Breen-Phillips community — which will occupy Zahm Hall this year while Breen-Phillips Hall undergoes a full-year renovation — graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in biological sciences and then was a teacher for seven years.
Motter said she grew so much living in Lyons Halls during all four years at Notre Dame and wanted to be part of that experience for future classes. When it comes to advice for incoming freshmen, Motter said new students should “own” the nerves.
“The first thing is to acknowledge and accept that the nerves and the fear are all really valid, and it’s a feeling that probably almost everyone else is feeling,” she said. “I think it’s really easy to feel like I’m the only person that’s nervous about coming here. Everyone else is figuring out their lives, and here I am.”
Keenan Hall’s new rector Cory Hodson has no prior connection to the University, although he did earn a degree from Yale Divinity School and worked at a Massachusetts middle school in a role very similar to that of Notre Dame rectors.
Hodson said the biggest challenge for the Keenan community this year will be finding balance.
“These guys are incredibly endearing and authentic and committed to virtue and faith, but are deeply, deeply funny,” Hodson said. “They don’t take themselves too seriously. They know when it’s time to laugh and to build other people up by good humor. It is a major part of the culture of Keenan Hall.”
Cheyenne Schuster, a double domer who served at a parish in South Jersey for two years through Notre Dame’s Echo Graduate Service Program, will be Walsh Hall’s rector this year.
Even though Notre Dame can feel like a very overwhelming environment, it’s necessary to take risks, according to Schuster.
“My first day of (general chemistry) I sat next to a girl that I did not know, and she knew the girl who was sitting on the other side of her. They were talking about getting brunch,” Schuster said. “I said, ‘Hey, can I join you?’ And I did, and now we’re best friends.”
Siegfried Hall’s new rector, Michael Davis, is a former Siegfried Rambler who was a residential assistant his senior year. He worked as a consultant for two years before enrolling in the Alliance for Catholic Education program.
During his time in Siegfried, Davis said he witnessed the power of an intentional community focused on Christ, sacrifice and love.
“My favorite part about Siegfried is that it is filled with people who care — people who are going to be present to you and are going to care for you no matter what, no matter who you come into this hall as, no matter your values or political beliefs or lifestyles,” he said.
Mike Ryan, another seminarian who graduated this year with a Notre Dame divinity degree, will be the rector in O’Neill Family Hall. Ryan was a residential assistant in O’Neill as an undergraduate.
“My rector, a guy named Ed Mack, was a really big influence in my life, so I always saw the rector as this guiding figure throughout college,” Ryan said. “Then during my time in seminary, I really enjoyed working with college-aged students.”
Matthew Tucci, an educator who taught and coached in South Bend after graduating from Purdue University, will be the new rector for Morrissey Manor this year. Beatrice Comty-Charnock, who spent the past 11 years as a marriage and family therapist and drug and alcohol counselor, became the inaugural rector for the Undergraduate Community at Fisher.
Each Notre Dame residential community has its own unique history, set of traditions, rector, chapel, mascot, colors and signature event, according to Residential Life.