Cross and Anchors Guild Donor Highlight – Shawn Nowicki and Ashleigh Thompson

As recent members of the Cross and Anchors Guild, Shawn Nowicki and Ashleigh Thompson saw their support as both a natural extension of their gratitude to the Congregation, as well as a way their family could maintain regular connections with the order. They didn’t expect this tie to strengthen so quickly. “As the new year began, we had been speaking with our children about choosing a family saint for 2024. Our January edition of the Holy Cross monthly reflection arrived, with a joyful description of Saint André Bessette, a Holy Cross brother we knew little about, so we started to learn more about his humble but extraordinary life,” Ashleigh shared. “Saint André’s example has already captured our children’s imagination,” said Shawn.  “They understand that no service is too small if it is service to God.” Their family can’t wait to travel to Montreal this year to visit Saint Joseph’s Oratory and experience Saint André’s devotion in person.

The impact of the Congregation on their family, however, started more than 25 years before at the University of Notre Dame. Ashleigh lived in Knott Hall, a women’s residence that also served as home to Rev. Don McNeill, C.S.C. They became fast friends: Fr. McNeill was founding director of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns (CSC) and Ashleigh was writing for the university’s newspaper. “If there was a special event, a speaker, a coat drive, he’d ask me to cover the story,” said Ashleigh. Her involvement with Holy Cross and friendship with Padre Don led to participation in C.S.C service trips, a semester abroad in Chile, a year of post-graduate service in Mexico, and later to a master’s degree in nonprofit administration at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. “I think about Padre Don so often, his vibrant smile and spirit. He was tall, and also a towering person,” Ashleigh remembers. Shawn, a current Notre Dame graduate student in Theology, adds: “With its focus on education, retired priests, and international mission, the Cross and Anchors Guild enables us to give back in modest ways to areas we care about, and to a Congregation that continues to bless our family.”

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