Exploring faith at Notre Dame

Four Sacred Heart Greenwich students attended the 2019 Notre Dame Vision conference June 17 to June 21.  Seniors Elisa Howard and Caitlyn Mitchell, junior Emma Rose Connolly, and sophomore Libby Kaseta traveled to University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana to participate in this faith-centered retreat.  

Reverend Edward F. Sorin, a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, founded the University of Notre Dame in 1824.  The University’s McGrath Institute for Church Life organizes the annual Notre Dame Vision conference for high school students, a conference “designed to help participants discover and renew God’s call in their lives,” according to nd.edu.  

Students at Notre Dame Vision received the sacrament of reconciliation, participated in eucharistic adoration, and attend mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.  Courtesy of Mrs. Considine

The Sacred Heart group traveled to Notre Dame with students from Fairfield College Preparatory School.  After a 13-hour bus ride, they began the Vision program with a welcome dinner where they met their 275 peers from across the United States.  Mrs. Maureen Considine, Director of Upper School Campus Ministry, accompanied the students on the retreat.  Caitlyn found Notre Dame Vision to be a unique opportunity to meet other students and reflect on her faith.  

“While I was originally nervous to be separated from my Sacred Heart and Fairfield Prep friends, I enjoyed meeting students all across the country who were passionate about their faith,” Caitlyn said.

This group of students, ranging from rising high school freshmen to newly-graduated high school seniors, lived on campus under the mentorship of current Notre Dame students for five days.  They attended mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, located on the Notre Dame campus, and spent time discussing and strengthening their faith in small groups.  Emma Rose shared her overall experience at the conference.  

“During Notre Dame Vision, I gained a greater respect and appreciation for my faith,” Emma Rose said.  “It was different than any other religious experience I have had.” 

Throughout the week, the students spent time with Emily Hirshorn ‘15, a current Notre Dame student.  She is majoring in Arabic and minoring in Collaborative Innovation and will graduate from Notre Dame in 2020.  During the retreat, Emily mentored a group of eight students, including Elisa.  

Emma Rose Connolly ‘21, Libby Kaseta ‘22, Emily Hirshorn ‘14, Caitlyn Mitchell ‘20, and Elisa Howard ‘20 all participated in the 2019 Notre Dame Vision program.  Courtesy of Mrs. Considine

“I remember meeting Emily on the first day of Notre Dame Vision,” Elisa said.  “She walked up to me with a bright smile, excited that I, a Sacred Heart student, was in her small group.  Emily was very kind to my entire group and was open in sharing her own experiences of faith.”

In addition to their small group meetings, the conference participants also listened to four keynote speakers throughout the week.  These speakers offered interpretations of biblical stories and discussed the presence of God’s grace throughout their lives.  Emma Rose thought that all of the students appreciated the speakers’ insight.  

“We were blessed to listen to the keynote speakers and the mentors tell their Stories of Grace,” Emma Rose said.  “The speakers and mentors reminded us that God will always be there even when we might not feel Him or might think He is not looking out for our best interests.”

Notre Dame Vision allowed high school students the opportunity to live on a college campus, meet other students from across the country, and explore and strengthen their faith.  Elisa shared her final thoughts on her retreat experience at Notre Dame.

“Throughout the retreat, I got to know my small group really well,” Elisa said.  “As a whole, Notre Dame Vision allowed me to see and appreciate the blessings in my life as well as more deeply comprehend God’s call.”

Featured image by Sydney Kim ’20