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College hosts Landscapes of the Spirit event

On Friday afternoon, Julianne Wallace, Saint Mary’s College vice president for mission, opened the first Landscapes of the Spirit event since before the pandemic with a prayer. The intention of this Landscapes of the Spirit was to highlight “Stories of Hope.”

Landscapes of the Spirit is a Saint Mary’s College tradition that gives a platform to faculty and staff to share their experience of mission at the College, what brought them to their place at the institution, as well as their passions. The event was held in the Stapleton Lounge, as well as being live streamed on Youtube and will have more installations throughout the coming semester. Landscapes of the Spirit is sponsored by Saint Mary’s College Division for Mission.

The first speaker was Nicole Labadie, the director of campus ministry. Labadie worked in ministry for eight years previous to her time at Saint Mary’s, having joined the campus ministry team in October of 2022. 

Originally from Texas, Labadie studied at Saint Edward’s University in Austin for her undergrad. Labadie spoke on her introduction to the Congregation of Holy Cross, their beliefs and how those beliefs impacted her life.

“It was the brothers that first sort of exposed me to the Congregation of Holy Cross, its charism, the way it sees the world and this education impacted me it formed me so deeply and it’s part of the way in which I since then and since that time have continued to see the world,” Labadie said. “The Congregation of Holy Cross helped me to for the first time as a college student see beyond myself, see beyond Texas, beyond our country to our brothers and sisters across the world to care for social justice and to live this sort of radical hospitality.”

Labadie explained the specific affinity she held for Saint Andre Bessette, through her time as an undergraduate. “This very ordinary man who God did extraordinary things through and so he, along with Moreau, have sort of informed a lot of my thinking,” she said. 

After her time at Saint Edward’s, Labadie continued her education at the University of Notre Dame, pursuing a Master’s degree in Divinity. This is where she found a worship community with the Sisters at Our Lady of Loretto. Labadie elaborated on her past experience with worship and Catholic mass as a whole.

“I had always been a Catholic who sort of struggled with the monotony of liturgy and the mass and I have to work sort of really hard to pay attention to the words that are so familiar that we just sort of say from a place of memory. For me, it was worship at Loretto that really helped me experience the liturgy in a new way to really fall in love with it. To see what it means to be a diverse church” Labadie said. 

In her time at Notre Dame, Labadie worked as an assistant rector in Pasquerilla East (PE). She revealed that it was this experience that helped her discern her passions. “It was sort of recognizing the beauty of ministering and accompanying women that led me to pursue campus ministry,” Labadie said. 

She continued to share her journey through working ministry in higher education and elaborated on how she more permanently made South Bend her home and place of work. She went on to explain what Saint Mary’s represents to her. “For me, Saint Mary’s really embodies this understanding of vocation as the place of intersection where our deep Joys meets the world’s deep hunger there is a lot of work to be done but I am hopeful and I am hopeful because of the mission of this place,” Labadie said. 

Wallace shared her story next. Wallace explained how she found a deep-rooted understanding and passion for charism. Having grown up in the Catholic faith and having attended Catholic school, Wallace continued her pursuit of this education at the Washington Theological Union. “This was all well and good until my 27th year of life when I was maturing in age and maturing and wisdom and understanding but not in faith and I found myself at the Washington Theological Union studying theology,” Wallace explained. 

In her explanation of charism, she identified multiple reasons why it is so important to her, such as the aspect of community that charism creates, and the impact of that community. “You need a community to tell your story and to be with you while you are that prophetic witness for the world and the great thing about this community is it’s not those people here in this room it’s not just those people on YouTube it’s the people that have gone before us the stories of those people that we tell now today and it’s also those people down the road that are going to follow us and tell us about their great stories,” Wallace said. 

Wallace also expressed her love for storytelling, and the difference telling stories has on communities and individuals themselves.

“These stories are who we are and inform who will who we will become in the future because identity is not static it is changing so I love storytelling I think that’s one of the things like hanging out with these religious men and women and hearing their stories and hearing the stories of their Founders it just energized me the characteristic of charism that speaks to me the most,” Wallace said. 

Wallace discussed her process of coming to Saint Mary’s College, which was inspired by her interest in institutional vocation.

“I thought I would never go back to school I went to pursue my doctor of ministry and with this focus on understanding the many different vehicles and ways we can use vocation and I ended up writing a doctoral thesis on institutional vocation which brings an understanding beyond the personal where each called to something I wanted to study who are institutions as corporates entities are not corporate as in making the money but as a communal body together who is Saint Mary’s College called to be in this time and place and I actually think Art and Science and the signature experience and all that informs who that will be to we continue so that’s how I ended up as a mission officer,” Wallace explained. 

Similar to Labadie, Wallace also found a place worshiping with Sisters at Our Lady of Loretto, virtually through the pandemic.  

“I instantly felt the radical Hospitality of the Holy Cross tradition like two minutes on to zoom,  it may have had something to do with the pajamas and coffee that I was in on my couch very relaxed but I could just tell I felt most at home in a community more so than any other worshiping Community I’d ever been in,” Wallace described. 

The community, she explained, is what truly brought her to the South Bend area. “I was a member of the Church of Loretto starting in September of 2020 even though I’d never stepped foot in the church and I knew that I needed to end up in South Bend somehow,” Wallace said. 

Wallace ended her Story of Hope with a statement regarding her understanding of purpose in her life. “God has placed us here to do good work together, and I feel that as I look around at the women that I work with on the senior leadership team the executive team, as I look around at all of you here today and as I imagine the wonderful beautiful faces of those who are watching on YouTube, it just seems like each of us has been individually placed here for some definite purpose and that purpose is to empower women and all of those faculty and staff that are around us today to do good things to be that prophetic witness to share in the charism and the hope of Holy Cross,” she concluded. 

The event ended with a brief Q and A session and an invitation to the audience to reflect. Landscapes of the Spirit series continues Thursday, Feb. 9 at 12 p.m., with Stories of Discovery, from speakers Christin Kloski and Patti Sayer, located in Saint Mary’s Stapleton Lounge as well as live-streamed on YouTube.

Contact Cora Haddad at chaddad01@saintmarys.edu.

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Badin rector leaves, second departure announced this week

Azucena “Ceni” De La Torre, the former rector of Badin Hall, left her position late this week, according to an email sent to Badin residents Friday afternoon. De La Torre’s departure is the second to be announced in three days, following Walsh Hall’s former rector Kate Palko on Wednesday. De La Torre previously worked with campus ministry at DePaul University.

A reliable source relayed to The Observer that “this departure is not related to any kind of wrongful or inappropriate conduct.”

The email sent to residents from Nathan Elliot, director of residential life for training and development, also announced that Sr. Mary Lynch will lead the Badin community until a new rector is hired in January. Lynch is the former rector of McGlinn Hall and a current staff-in-residence who lives on campus.

Lynch — like Carol Latronica, who is acting as the fill-in rector for Walsh — will not move into the dorm. According to the email, Lynch “will be present in different ways, including supervising the staff and offering a rector’s expertise through the rest of the semester.”

In a GroupMe message sent to residents, assistant rector Godgift Iteghete acknowledged residents’ reactions to De La Torre’s sudden departure.

“We understand many of you may have built a relationship with [De La Torre] and are distraught to hear the news,” Iteghete said in the message.

She also said that further details would not be provided to residents.

“As per receiving further details regarding this matter please understand that hall staff is not at liberty to discuss further as it is a private Residential Life employee matter,” she wrote.

Elliot noted that Lynch would be present in Badin Hall Friday night from 7 to 9 p.m. and urged residents to reach out with concerns.

“I know that change can be hard, but I’m confident we have a good plan to get us through this period of time. Please feel free to reach out to Sr. Mary or stop by to meet her tonight,” he wrote.

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Worker Appreciation Week celebrates campus staff

Nov. 14-20 marked Worker Appreciation Week on campus and in honor of the week, various groups, including Campus Ministry, Student Government, the Center for Social Concerns (CSC), BridgeND and residence halls, came together to celebrate and uplift the Notre Dame staff.

Bridget Schippers, a junior who helped organize Worker Appreciation Week (WAW), said the goal of the week was “to try to show workers that they’re an appreciated part of our community and that students do think of them as we go about our day, that they’re not forgotten in the background, and that we see them at the front.”

Under the banner of WAW, BridgeND hosted a discussion Monday on the state of labor in America. Also on Monday, Campus Ministry hosted an opening mass for workers, in addition to a prayer service for workers at the Grotto on Tuesday and a Social Justice Stories panel featuring several campus staff on Thursday.

SolidarityND discussed Catholic Social Tradition and the dignity of labor at their meeting on Thursday, and the CSC served ethically-sourced coffee flights to complement a labor discussion on Sunday.

Schippers and Quinnlan Murray, another junior who organized WAW, are part of the Raising the Standard Campaign (RSC), which advocates for a just wage structure at Notre Dame. The RSC saw a victory earlier this year when Notre Dame announced that they would raise the minimum wage to $15. Much of the inspiration for WAW grew out of their work with the RSC.

“Something big that came out of [the RSC efforts] was realizing how many workers were afraid to talk about their experiences on campus because of backlash that happened in the past. And so, at the same time as we were recommending policy changes and ways to improve either benefits or actual wages for workers, we found that something else that really could use work on our campus is the environment,” Schippers said.

However, Schippers and Murray said that Raising the Standard is not an official campus group, so they had to approach each group involved in Worker Appreciation Week separately.

“If the best way to actually make this happen and to try to improve the environment for workers on campus is not for our name to be associated with this, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Schippers said.

Murray became involved with RSC and WAW when she realized that labor affects everyone. She has worked nine jobs on campus, and she wanted to participate in a campaign that would tangibly affect her life and the lives of other campus workers.

“Labor touches every single person, everybody works,” Murray said. “And right now, people are really taking notice of labor nationally, in politics. So I think that another goal of Worker Appreciation Week was to bring that conversation to campus.”

On Monday through Wednesday of this week, students had the opportunity to write and deliver thank-you notes to campus workers. Tables were stationed with supplies in SDH, NDH and Duncan Student Center.

Schippers said that at first, a lot of students misunderstood the premise of the thank-you notes. Rather than personally delivering the cards, students tried to hand the cards back to Schippers, thinking that her team would deliver the notes.

“It was shocking to see how many people were like ‘I don’t know any campus workers,’” Schippers said.

Nevertheless, she said she witnessed many students being “brave” and having their first face-to-face interactions with campus workers. 

Schippers estimates that over 500 thank-you cards were delivered to campus workers from students this week. Eighteen residence halls also delivered flowers to their cleaning staffs.

On Friday, Murray and several other students participated in a dining hall clean-up, where they worked the post-lunch cleaning shift. Murray went around North Dining Hall wiping down tables, cleaning plates and pushing in chairs.

“It was weird being in that position. Because even though I was a student, it felt like because I was now carrying a rag that I was a completely different person all of a sudden… Not a single person came up to me or said anything,” Murray said.

Murray said she was grateful for the perspective that the dining hall clean-up gave her, and she hopes to continue to do them as often as once a month.

On Thursday, the Faith and Justice Alliance branch of Campus Ministry co-sponsored a WAW event titled “Social Justice Stories: Unheard Voices of Notre Dame.” Becky Czarnecki, assistant director of Faith and Justice at Campus Ministry, partnered with the WAW team to recruit four campus workers to speak on a panel about their experiences.

One such worker, Linh Tran, works as a supervisor in Building Services. He has worked at Notre Dame since 2009, beginning at Reckers (the now-defunct pizza restaurant attached to South Dining Hall), then moving to Star Ginger and eventually Building Services.

Tran said that though he has always wanted to go to college, circumstances prevented him from doing so. He was born the youngest of 16 children in Vietnam, and he never got to complete his high school degree because he was put in a labor camp.

“I think the one thing that really brought me to the University of Notre Dame was about education. The dream that I wanted was to be in college. Being able to see all of [the students] come to this school and seeing myself through you… that kind of gives me another comfort that at least I am able to touch part of [my dream],” Tran said.

When Tran first began at Notre Dame, he said he was repeatedly denied the promotion to manager, despite his experience and natural skill. This pushed him to pursue a college degree in the United States, and he eventually graduated with his master’s in human resources and organizational leadership. Tran especially thanked all the Notre Dame students who tutored him in math and composition along his educational journey.

“That’s the one thing I love about Notre Dame — there was no difference between me and the students or the students and me,” Tran said.

The student senate is currently considering a resolution that would formally declare the week before Thanksgiving Worker Appreciation Week every year.

Schippers said that many universities, including Purdue University, Columbia University and Indiana University, already have a similar event.

Going forward, Schippers said that she hopes Notre Dame students will continue to extend their gratitude to Notre Dame workers. Her goal is for more students to know campus workers’ names when addressing their thank-you cards next year because they’ve built a relationship.

“I think the biggest hope is that… it’s not a surprise whenever we hear about how interconnected we are with the people here every day with us,” Schippers said.

Contact Katie Muchnick at kmuchnic@nd.edu.

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Campus Ministry focuses on faith and justice, expands opportunities for students to serve

I’m writing to respond to an article in The Observer on Oct. 11: “Center for Social Concerns withdraws resources for community engagement.”

As the inaugural assistant director of faith and justice in Campus Ministry (beginning this new role July 1), I have the privilege of organizing service opportunities and social justice initiatives for students. Many of our students at Notre Dame are enlivened by their faith and because of it, feel called to serve the marginalized and fight for justice. I’m here to create opportunities for these encounters to happen. I organize a program called Mercy Works, which used to be a collaborative effort between the Center for Social Concerns and Campus Ministry and is now housed entirely under Campus Ministry.  Mercy Works offers students the opportunity to practice the works of mercy: feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and so on. Students go out into the South Bend community to feed breakfast to homeless folks, tutor children experiencing poverty, accompany men transitioning out of the prison system and more. Not only do the students serve, but they have the opportunity to gather for monthly dinners on campus and incorporate what they have experienced with issues of social justice, spirituality, and Catholic social teaching. I set up transportation for the students as well, either by finding a driver for the group, determining a bus line students can utilize or offering reimbursement for Uber or Lyft rides to their service sites. These students are truly a force for good in our community, and Campus Ministry is here to support them.

As someone who admires the work of the CSC and the difference they have made in the lives of our students, I believe that they too desire for students here to be a force for good in the world. The fact that they are moving in a new direction and are not providing funding for transportation to service sites does not mean that they or the university as a whole has lost interest in our South Bend community. It means we have the opportunity to create new initiatives and relationships that will expand and enliven our students’ experience of service. We can take this change as an opportunity to begin again, to start fresh and to reimagine a campus where service is part of who we are and what we do.

I agree with Clark Power, who Angela quoted as saying, “…“If we want to take [our] mission [as a university] seriously, there needs to be more efforts to make service accessible to students.” But I want to clarify for you and your readers that it is not only the CSC that can offer these opportunities to our students. Campus Ministry is delighted to oversee Mercy Works, which we know from conversations with students and community partners is mutually transformative.

This program is just the beginning: Campus Ministry is excited to explore how we can continue to make an impact in our local community through both service and justice opportunities as people with hope to bring. I warmly welcome any student who wants to get involved! All are welcome to contact me at rczarne2@nd.edu.

In peace,

Becky Czarnecki

assistant director of faith & justice, Notre Dame Campus Ministry

Oct. 21

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Fr. Pete McCormick, other Campus Ministry officials promoted

Fr. Pete McCormick was promoted as the inaugural assistant vice president for campus ministry, with three other campus ministry employees promoted to director roles.

McCormick’s new title, along with the promotion of three other campus ministry professionals, was announced Tuesday by director of communications for the division of student affairs Kate Morgan.

McCormick, who was ordained as a Holy Cross priest in 2007, has served as the director of campus ministry since 2015. Before this, McCormick was the rector of Keough Hall.

Morgan outlined McCormick’s new role and noted that his duties overseeing the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, providing pastoral support to faculty and staff and contributing to campus ministry will continue.

“As assistant vice president, Father McCormick will lead the University’s faith formation, spiritual life and liturgical offerings of undergraduate, graduate and professional students within the division of student affairs,” Morgan said.

The announcement included a quote from vice president for student affairs Fr. Gerry Olinger:

“Father Pete has clearly and consistently demonstrated his leadership and presence on our campus and, as we prepare to implement our next strategic plan, I am grateful for the many ways Father Pete and our Campus Ministry team have and will continue to contribute to discussions around the role of faith in our students’ lives,” he said.

The three other promotions in Campus Ministry are Tami Schmitz, Kate Barrett and Mike Buckler. They will serve as directors of pastoral care, liturgy and student ministry, respectively.

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Campus organizations celebrate Dia de los Muertos

On Nov. 1 and 2, the streets of Mexico will brim with celebrations of Dia de los Muertos — literally meaning “Day of the Dead” — with colorful papel picado decorations, giant parade floats, face painting, mariachi bands and traditional dancing. 

Dia de los Muertos originated in Mexico, although it is widely celebrated in the Mexican diaspora globally to commemorate loved ones who have passed away. Nov. 1 honors children who have passed away, while Nov. 2 commemorates adults. The holiday is a joyous celebration rather than one of mourning, according to a talk by Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) faculty fellow Jenny Padilla. 

“The centerpiece of Dia de los Muertos is remembering your loved ones who have passed, remembering the life they lived and sharing your stories with other family members,” Denise Brenes, assistant director of Multicultural Student Programs and Services (MSPS) said.

Emily Meneses, vice president of the Spanish language choir Coro Primavera, said that during this time, many believe the dead come closer to the living. It is a day to honor friends and family who have passed away, she said. 

The ILS hosted a community gathering Tuesday to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. The event featured traditional Mexican food and a display of altars created by student groups. Padilla spoke at the event about the origins of the holiday and traditions associated with Dia de los Muertos.

She discussed how families create and decorate altars to honor their loved ones who have passed. The altars are set up in homes and cemeteries and contain photographs, flowers and ofrendas — or offerings. 

“The altars are decorated with offerings that are meant to represent the four elements: fire, water, wind and earth,” Padilla said. 

She explained how the different elements are incorporated into the altars. Fire is represented by candles that light the way for the spirits to return to their families. Pitchers of water are placed on the altars to quench the spirits’ thirst. The wind is represented by papel picado — intricately cut papers that help the souls pass through. Earth is represented by traditional foods, like pan de muerto, hot chocolate and tamales. 

Padilla explained that marigolds are the holiday’s iconic flower. The altars are decorated with bright orange and yellow flowers because the fragrance is said to help guide the spirits from their burial place. 

La Catrina, the elegant skull, is another symbol associated with the holiday and it is seen in costumes, face paintings and candy skulls. It originated as a satirical lithograph in the 1910s by Mexican illustrator Jose Guadalupe Posada. 

The two-day celebration of Dia de los Muertos aligns with All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls’ Day on Nov. 2,  days of prayer and remembrance observed by Christian denominations. 

Dia de los Muertos was originally an Aztec tradition celebrated during the summer harvest season.

“The origins of Dia de los Muertos date back to the indigenous people of Mexico and Central America and the idea is that death and the dead are to be celebrated and honored rather than mourned,” Padilla said.   

It wasn’t until the 16th century, during the Spanish colonization of Mexico, that the dates of the holiday changed. Brenes explained that after colonization, holidays involving pagan traditions or rituals were incorporated into Catholic celebrations, so today’s celebration of Dia de los Muertos contains an amalgamation of pre-Hispanic traditions and Christian religion.

Meneses discussed the intersection between the two traditions.“We celebrate Dia de los Muertos because we honor the saints, and so from a religious perspective, they can intercede for us and bring us closer to the deceased,” she said.

A holiday that is mistaken as having ties to Dia de los Muertos is Halloween. Padilla clarified that although Halloween and Dia de los Muertos “occur in tandem and [though they] share similar customs like candy, face painting and community gatherings, the two are not related.”

To mark the second day of Dia de los Muertos on Wednesday, Campus Ministry is holding a procession at 7 p.m. from the Cedar Grove Cemetery culminating in a prayer service at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Following the service, there will be a reception in the Coleman-Morse lounge where student clubs including Ballet Folklorico Azul y Oro (BFAYO), RitmoND, Coro Primavera and Mariachi ND will be performing. 

Arianna Kelley, diversity council representative of BFAYO, said the group will be performing typical Mexican folkloric dances and painting their faces like skulls. Coro Primavera and Mariachi ND will be leading songs that will be sung during the procession from the cemetery to the Basilica. Coro Primavera will be singing “Un pueblo que camina” — which translates to “a town that walks.” “It’s a really great song to show how a community can move itself and spiritually uplift each other,” Meneses said.

You can contact Caroline Collins at ccolli23@nd.edu

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Notre Dame alumna begins new ministry at Saint Mary’s

Nicole Labadie, who became the new director of campus ministry at Saint Mary’s in October, hopes to find new ways to evangelize and accompany students on their faith journeys during their time at Saint Mary’s College She said the job combines her passions: the charisma of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the focus of an all women’s school and the work of campus ministry.

Labadie, originally from New Braunfels, Texas, studied social work and religious studies at St. Edward’s University in Texas before earning a master of divinity at Notre Dame. She first became involved in campus ministry at St. Edward’s, where she said she appreciated the mentorship she received on profound questions regarding her faith.

When she came to Notre Dame, Labadie was an assistant rector in Pasquerilla East Hall and she worked on liturgical and spiritual programming in the dorm.

“I really loved journeying and walking with women, so, I think in a lot of ways it’s cool that I’m back at Saint Mary’s now,” Labadie said.

Labadie entered her eighth year of campus ministry work when she took the job at Saint Mary’s. Previously, she was the director of campus ministry at University of St. Thomas in Texas and was a campus minister at the Rice University Catholic Student Center. 

She is also married to a Notre Dame graduate and has two sons, who are three years and three months old. Labadie said the job at Saint Mary’s was attractive partly because South Bend was where they wanted to raise their family.

Labadie, who began her term Oct. 17, described adjusting to her new job as “a little bit like trying to drink water from a fire hose,” but has enjoyed getting to know students and learning about their needs since they arrived back on campus from fall break.

“Saint Mary’s has been so welcoming so far,” she said. “I’ve heard a variety of things from the students, like building on the strong community of Saint Mary’s and continuing on the legacy of the sisters, especially since religious communities are declining in numbers and the pandemic really affected the ability for students to be able to connect with the sisters of Holy Cross.”

As director of campus ministry at Saint Mary’s, Labadie hopes to foster productive dialogue on campus for students to grow in their faith. The dialogue, she said, could take shape in the form of small group communities, something which she said students have expressed to her over the past week. 

“We know that God is a mystery, and any way that we want to put limits on that, God is ultimately beyond those,” Labadie said. “It’s one of my great joys in campus ministry is to get to walk with students and accompany them as they sort of ask those big questions.”

Her purpose as the new director of campus ministry, she said, is centered around providing students hope surrounding faith and she is intent on listening to students to find out how best to do that.

“It’d be my desire that every student at Saint Mary’s knows how deeply they are loved by God,” Labadie said. “So whatever we can do to help bring that about, I’m open to hearing.”

Contact Liam at lprice3@nd.edu

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University leader and Holy Cross priest Richard Warner dies

Fr. Richard “Dick” Warner died Wednesday at the age of 83 at Holy Cross House, according to a University press release.

Warner was a part of the Congregation of Holy Cross since 1962, the same year he graduated from Notre Dame, the release said. Warner became a part of the University’s Board of Fellows and Board of Trustees in 1979 as a part of his role as the provincial superior of the Indiana Province. In 1988, Warner was appointed a counselor at the University by then-president Fr. Edward “Monk” Malloy.

Warner also served as the director of campus ministry from 1989 until 2010 before he was elected the 12th superior general of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the release said.

“Father Dick Warner was a consummate priest, a servant-leader in Holy Cross, fiercely loyal to Notre Dame, and he had an abiding love for our students — a love that was richly reciprocated,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said in the release. “He was to me and many a model, mentor and friend who generously gave his life to the mission of Notre Dame and the Congregation of Holy Cross.”

The University will hold a wake and funeral mass Tuesday for Warner at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., respectively, at the Basilica.

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Campus Ministry offers monthly LGBTQ+ masses

Almost two years ago, Ryan Palmer, then a sophomore, attended Campus Ministry’s annual LGBTQ+ Retreat.

The typically-overnight retreat is geared toward LGBTQ+ Catholics and hosts speakers like Michael O’Loughlin, author of “Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of Fear.”

Palmer said he looks back fondly on the experience and noted it allowed him to meet other LGBTQ+ students who shared his Catholic faith. However, he noted that only about 30 students attended the retreat.

“To be honest, it touches a relatively small group of people because so many LGBTQ+ people have already kind of given up on the Church. They already have felt unwelcome,” Palmer said. “For the few of us that are still trying it … it’s very tight-knit, and it’s a really important safe space for people.”

Campus Ministry chaplain to LGBTQ+ students Fr. Joe Corpora, said he’s also observed that many LGBTQ+ people “are beyond the Church.”

“You can’t blame them,” Corpora continued. “A lot of LGBTQ people say, ‘I left the Church because it left me,’ and I understand that, but our hope is that we can provide an opportunity through Campus Ministry to invite people to give the Church a second chance.”

This year, Corpora and Campus Ministry will offer monthly Saturday Vigil Masses geared toward LGBTQ+ students in the Dillon Hall Chapel. This semester’s Masses will take place Sept. 24, Oct. 29, Nov. 12 and Dec. 3, each at 5 p.m.

Corpora said Campus Ministry began holding Masses for the LGBTQ+ community last semester but decided to create a more formal schedule this year. 

He said they settled on holding the Masses once a month so students could continue to attend their dorm Masses or other Masses most of the time. However, if he finds that some students only feel comfortable attending the LGBTQ+ Mass and would not attend Mass otherwise, he may add more Mass dates.

“It’s an LGBTQ Mass, but anyone is welcome,” Palmer said. “It’s very affirming of the community, and that’s really great because, oftentimes, it’s really hard to find a community to worship with as a gay person because there are a lot of people, especially at a place like Notre Dame, who are not accepting of you, and you just don’t feel comfortable around them. So it’s really nice to be able to worship in a community of people where you can feel comfortable being yourself.”

Corpora said creating an environment where LGBTQ+ Catholics can feel comfortable being who they are and not feel forced to choose between being gay or being Catholic is crucial. He wants these students not to feel that they have to “fit in,” but rather that they belong.

“When you fit in, you have to sort of change how you are to fit in,” Corpora explained. “But when you belong, you are who you are … and you don’t have to change who you are before God to belong.”

Corpora said while he knows there will be Catholics and members of the Notre Dame community that object to the LGBTQ+ Masses, he is trying to follow a model he feels is inspired by Jesus Christ and the Pope.

“What I would say to anybody is ‘I am trying to follow the model of Pope Francis, who has asked us to accompany people wherever they are in their lives,’” Corpora said. “The most important proclamation of Jesus was not about laws. It was about love and accompanying people in life.”

Claire Reid

Contact Claire at creid6@nd.edu