Keep Holy the Regular

Keep Holy the Regular

Other News | by Caroline Kuhn

    Rev. Joseph F. O’Donnell, C.S.C., was serving as chaplain at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, California, where my father (ND ’76) worked in the 1980s. Over time, he came to be a chaplain of sorts to our family as well. In fact, he kicked off our year of family religious ed classes in 1989 by saying Mass in our living room.  That casual, regular, intimate setting transformed my experience of the Eucharist, and after that evening, I knew that I loved the Mass.  I also knew that I loved those who came from Notre Dame. And Fr. Joe came from Notre Dame. 

    I cannot say precisely what else drew me to Notre Dame, but I knew deep in my heart that was where I was supposed to go.  (Thank goodness admissions thought so, too!) We don’t expect the regular moments to mark our journey or affect our lives profoundly; only after reflection or later encounters do we discover what impacted us most. Whereas I knew at the time Mass in my living room profoundly affected me, I did not realize how everyday lunchtime conversations or evening retreat-planning meetings would bless my life. Rev. David Joseph Scheidler, C.S.C., and now Bishop William Albert Wack, C.S.C., were my retreat team’s chaplains who guided us through every phase of planning, executing, and evaluating freshman retreats. It was normal to see them at weekly meetings but also in passing along the quad, in the dining hall, or even to receive a visit from them as they checked up on us, the sheep of the flock. Fr. Bill would bring levity by turning our organic chemistry models into a crown or fashioning himself a headband out of Christmas tinsel. Those regular-life interactions with members of Holy Cross deeply converted my heart to the truths of our faith, as I knew I could trust these men with everything from my petty concerns to my soul’s darkest predicaments. I was starting to understand why I loved what came from Notre Dame.   

    While studying in Jerusalem with Rev. David B. Burrell, C.S.C., I met one of Fr. Joe’s dear friends, Rev. Maurice E. Amen, C.S.C. Spending time with Fr. Maury, even in this foreign land, was like being home. I hadn’t known him before his visit to Tantur, but his friendship with my Fr. Joe connected us before we even introduced ourselves. That connection, that being at home, even when oceans away from my actual home, was what I loved about who came from Notre Dame. I was learning that what I loved about ND came from the priests and brothers serving her.   

    Over the years, my husband Tim and I have shared bits and pieces of our Holy Cross education with our children – Leah-17, Evelyn-15, and Benjamin-12. Benjamin even made his First Communion in the Log Chapel at Notre Dame with Rev. John E. Conley, C.S.C. However, the central pillar of our marriage and homelife comes directly from the work of Holy Cross. 

    The normal, the usual, the mundane of everyday life is sacred. Keep holy the regular. 

    Nearly two decades ago, Fr. Joe sent Tim and me two Navajo art-inspired coffee mugs to celebrate our wedding, along with a gentle reminder to begin each day prayerfully with each other. His gift to us was, and still is to this day, an admonishment to keep holy the most regular of moments.   

    Thirty-one years after Fr. Joe said Mass in my parents’ home, forever changing my life, our children received a similar blessing. Most people don’t equate the spring of 2020 with blessings, but it became a holy time for our family. A nearby priest friend asked if we would be willing to have Mass said in our home during the lockdowns. We did not hesitate to say yes, even though the emergency mandates of our state forbade this activity. Sunday Mass quickly became the highlight of the week, and our children loved preparing our humble dining room for the Sacred Mysteries. I found myself praying as the centurion did in Mt 8:8, Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof…  

    The regular had been made holy indeed.   


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