|Comment on this report, or find other reports.
|Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
|Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
of Final Vows, Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame University,
Profession of Final Vows, Basilica
of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame University, Indiana, USA.
Roman Catholic, Diocese
of Fort Wayne/South Bend. The two postulants who took their
final vows at today's service are members of the Congregation
of Holy Cross, United
A Neo-Gothic church of blond stone, with a tall, slender bell
tower that houses a carillon of 23 bells, the largest of which,
named St Anthony, weighs seven tons. The interior is all arched
ceilings and sky blue walls. The floor around the chancel area
is brown marble; the lighting fixtures are gold and bright.
An expert in architecture would be able to describe this better,
but for me it was like walking from a bright Indiana morning
into a bright Indiana morning.
The Basilica serves the students of Notre Dame University
and is also the mother church for the United States Province
of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Thus, ordinations and funerals
for people of religious orders are part of its main function.
Their campus ministry is quite active in outreach to the students,
and their music program is world-celebrated.
The University of Notre Dame is a small village in and of
itself, an independent entity within the city of South Bend
in fact, if I looked at it as a village, it reminded
me a lot of Winchester. The campus includes a 150 year old
cemetery, several chapels and event spaces, and two gorgeous
lakes named after Mary and Joseph (someone at the reception
pointed out that they are ever together, but not joined).
But it is perhaps best known to sports fans as the home of
the "Fighting Irish" football team; the fervor for the team
was apparent in the presence of their belligerent leprechaun
logo just about everywhere, as well as abundant blue and gold.
The notice board outside the Basilica announced that mass
time on Saturday evening is adjusted to follow the end of
the game; a member of our party wondered if the liturgical
color was dependent on whether the Fighting Irish won or lost.
The Revd Thomas J. O'Hara, CSC, Provincial Superior, Congregation
of Holy Cross, United States Province, was the presider and
homilist and formally received the postulants' vows. The Revd
Peter Rocca, CSC, and Brother Dennis Meyers, CSC, were the
masters of ceremonies. The lectors were Sister Catherine Hilkert,
OP, and Mr Timothy Pishacich. The gospel was read by the Revd
Neil Wack, CSC, pastor of Christ the King Church, South Bend.
The sung portions of the liturgy were led by Andrew McShane,
Mus.D., Basilica Director of Music, and Mary Catherine Levri,
Assistant Director. But the stars of the show were the two
postulants: the Shipmate we know as Hart and his fellow seminarian,
a lad named Patrick.
The date & time:
Saturday, September 7, 2103, 10.00am.
What was the name of
Liturgy of Profession of Perpetual Vows.
How full was the building?
Quite full all the pews were used, and extra seating
was put out in the back. The two postulants and their families
occupied the front pews.
Did anyone welcome you
We scurried in a side door shortly before the service began,
and a smiling seminarian in black suit waved us to a seat
being held for us by friends (he saw them waving at us) and
quickly handed us service leaflets. It was all done in one
smooth, graceful, kindly gesture.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was, erm, pew-like not cushy, but not uncomfortable
either. The padded kneelers were very comfortable.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Outside, the carillon was clanging away at full voice
it sounded like every bell in the state of Indiana was ringing!
Inside, by contrast, the pre-service atmosphere all thirty
seconds of it I experienced seemed quietly anticipatory.
The organist played several selections, including the "Great"
Fugue in G Minor, BWV 542, of JS Bach, which almost had one
of our party dancing in the aisles! An excited hum buzzed in
the crowd but everyone was quite solemn.
What were the exact opening
words of the service?
"Good morning and welcome to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart
for this holy mass of the profession of vows."
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
The hardbound Worship and Gather hymnals,
plus a softbound Sacred Songs of the University of Notre
Dame, were in the pews but were not used. Rather, we
followed the entire service from a beautifully designed program.
What musical instruments
The organ, a majestic 1978-vintage instrument by the Holtkamp
firm of Columbus, Ohio. The University of Notre Dame Liturgical
Choir, about 60 strong and dressed in blue robes, sang from
the gallery in a technically pristine and artistically brilliant
Did anything distract
Photography without flash was allowed, and the congregants
were respectful and unobtrusive while taking pictures. Even
so, the very nice lady next to me didn't know how to turn
off the sound settings on her digital camera, so it kept sending
her informative bleeps and bloops. I chose to pretend that
R2D2 was murmuring endearments throughout the service. And
one of our party said that the Provincial Superior could have
passed as the twin brother of the verger at an Episcopal church
in Maryland to which he once belonged.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
The service was about as high up the candle as you could get,
but still managed to be warm and unifying. For instance, the
processional consisted of thurifer, crucifer and acolytes, lectors,
about 100 concelebrating priests in identical white chasubles,
and celebrant, all walking with regal solemnity. But as the
procession passed the two front rows where Hart and Patrick
were sitting with their families, each member sneaked a hand
out from under his robe to give the postulants a quick little
pat on the back. Plenty of incense but no Sanctus bell at the
consecration. We sang "All Creatures of Our God and King"
as the opening hymn and "O God, Beyond All Praising"
as the recessional. The service music was the Proulx
Community Mass. The choir offered Handel's "Sing Unto
God" from Judas Maccabaeus and "Draw Us in
the Spirit's Tether", which we thought most poignant, especially
the line "All our meals and all our living make as sacraments
Exactly how long was
On a scale of 1-10,
how good was the preacher?
8 I'd call the Provincial General's homily a little
sedate, but he spoke with a gentle, intent tone, and kept
things simple and direct. It was clear he had a deep affection
for the postulants as he received their vows, and had taken
the time to get to know them.
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
Father O'Hara related selections from the Holy Cross constitutions
to the journeys of the prophets spoken of in the readings
and then to the two postulants. He seemed to be very aware
of each man's personal journey. He reminded them that they
were not just to be sojourners, but prophetic sojourners,
with all the challenge and frustration that is implied in
being a prophet. He quoted Pope Francis's call for workers
who were willing to walk side by side with the people they
served, and said that living a prophetic life was even more
important than prophetic speech.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
It is extremely difficult to choose one moment, as this was
easily the most joyous and celestial service I have ever attended
mostly due to the obvious joy of Hart and Patrick and
the care and affection with which their brothers were showering
them. Just as a snapshot there was the moment when the
two young men came forward and knelt before the Provincial General
to read and then sign their vows. Both the solemn intent on
Hart's and Patrick's faces, and the tenderness on that of Father
O'Hara, were beautiful to behold. Also, the voice of the leader
of song (Mary Catherine Levri) was absolutely glorious: spot
on technically and captivatingly emotive.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
Again, the ceremony was so wonderful one has to resort to griping
about things like camera bloops to generate a complaint. However,
getting from the Basilica to the seminary, where the after-service
reception was to be held, was genuinely diabolical. The Notre
Dame campus seems to have been laid out in such a way that regardless
of where one might be, it is virtually impossible to get to
where one might want to go and once you do arrive, you'll
find it roped off! I expect that the engineer who planned the
roadways (and his cartographer) will be spending a good deal
of time driving around aimlessly in Purgatory trying to find
the exit that leads to the Pearly Gates.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
The after-church atmosphere was mildly chaotic, with St Anthony
and the other bells ringing wildly and robed seminarians milling
about, but I was sort of swept up by the huge pack of Hart's
and Patrick's friends and family. We all introduced ourselves
to each other, posed for pictures, and passed general congratulations
all around. Seminarians were bustling about giving people directions
for how to get to the after-service reception, or packing them
into shuttle buses or golf carts (Hart himself sped off in a
golf cart with his family as one of our party wondered if we
were expected to throw rice).
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
A buffet breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages, blueberry
pancakes, gazpacho orzo (trust me), salad, fruit, and juices
had been laid out, along with urns of strong, robust coffee.
For dessert there were donuts and pastries also there
were rumors of a carrot cake but it was gone by the time I
hit the dessert table. I consoled myself with a Boston creme
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
9 If I were a student at Notre Dame, I would be hanging
out in the Basilica all the time! The sanctuary is pleasant
and serene a great place for quiet prayer. A lot of
the Basilica's activities seem attractive, too, and while
I am not Catholic, I could see myself tagging along to church
services, anyway. I give it a 9 only because of the communion
Did the service make
you feel glad to be a Christian?
Absolutely, positively, yes! As my party and I drove back
from the service, we kept looking over at each other and sighing,
"What a wonderful, joyous day this has been!" (Yes, those
exact words.) Even remembering various moments in the mass
brought back happy tears. It was a truly unique experience
of concentrated joy.
What one thing will
you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The expression of peace and submission on the faces of Hart
and Patrick as they professed their vows will stay in my mind
much, much longer than seven days.
|We rely on voluntary donations to stay online. If you're a regular visitor to Ship of Fools, please consider supporting us.
|The Mystery Pilgrim
| One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
| Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.