Thursday, August 23, 2012

Destination Notre Dame {Day 5: Orientation}

Basilica of the Sacred Heart, University of Notre Dame
A full day of parent and student orientation activities on the agenda, we began in the Knott Hall chapel where the dorm’s rector, Brother Jerome, introduced us to the young men (seniors) who will serve as residence assistants (RA’s) this year and gave a general talk about dorm life in an effort to “put parents’ minds at ease.” The questions from parents following the presentation:
  • What if my son doesn’t KNOW there was alcohol in his room?
  • Can’t you please call me if you are taking my son to the emergency room?
  • What if my son just can’t stand his room mate?
  • Will my son be forced to wear an orange beanie?
didn’t phase Brother Jerome in the least. He encouraged us to allow our sons the opportunity to make their own decisions and learn to live with the consequences; turn off the helicopter, so to speak. The dorm room stability policy at Notre Dame encourages students to learn to live and work with others and figure out how to negotiate the differences and difficulties rather than offering an easy ‘fix’ and removal (extreme cases not withstanding). In a very direct statement, an RA told us that the University of Notre Dame “follows the teachings of the Catholic Church” (Please God, may it always be so!) “that intercourse is to be reserved for marriage…”

Brother Jerome addresses parents of Knott Hall freshmen, in the dorm's chapel.
“Introduction to Academic and Student Life” followed a family style lunch in the dining hall. Gathering the entire class of 2016 and their loved ones at Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame administrators, Dean Page, President Fr. Jenkins, Erin Hoffmann Harding, and senior student Catherine Reidy officially welcomed the new students and gave sound advice for a successful university experience including:
  • Take everything as an opportunity to learn (in all humility) and grow
  • Encounter the mystery of God
  • Be Christ for others
  • Be a leader and a servant
  • Make time for discernment 
  • Begin to learn a new language~ very well 
  • Wander the stacks of books and explore the libraries
    Students of the Notre Dame class of 2016 and their families enter Purcell Pavilion for first-year orientation.
Notre Dame's “Parent Orientation Session” with Dean Page, Erin Hoffmann Harding, and Parent Orientation Panel (James McKenna, Lee Svete, Darrell Paulsen) coincided with a break-out session for our first year students to meet with their academic advisors. A few tips from the Dean’s key to success list:
  • Be patient in this time of transition
  • Master the art of supporting rather than solving 
  • Trust in the values you have instilled in your child (pray and trust) 
  • Encourage your child to find time for contemplation and silence 
  • Embrace this new stage of life
The topic, ‘Discernment in Year 1,” sounded promising, although I didn’t particularly appreciate the ‘wisdom’ passed along by the first presenter, Professor James McKenna, who quoted his own UC Berkley prof from 1966. McKenna redeemed himself with a slightly comedic repeat after me phrase for parents, preparing us for that excited call from our student announcing his new intended major of study in an area never before mentioned, like, say, anthropology: “Anthropology!! There’s NOTHING you cannot do with THAT major!”
Migrating across campus after the parent orientation program concluded, we reconnected with Zachary at the Arts and Letters exploration session. Lemonade, cookies and snacks were enjoyed by Joseph and Peter, who understandably opted out of another lecture and rather passed the time in comfy chairs in the lobby area.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame
Leaving Zachary to peruse the Arts and Letters open house at his own pace, the four of us made our pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart for the 5PM Mass. The organ and student choir ensemble filled the church with the beauty of holy music, and the sound preaching and awesome sacramental miracle of the Holy Eucharist brought heaven to earth (see Revelation).  Time to visit the reliquary and side chapels followed, and we eventually made our way to the dining hall where Zachary sat surrounded by new friends at a table not far from ours. He joined us mid-meal and shared bits of his student orientation experience.

Tabernacle; home of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, at Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame
Leaving the dorm after a brief post-dinner tour of Zac’s room-in-progress, we introduced ourselves to the rector, Brother Jerome, and enjoyed a visit with him before departing campus for the much anticipated swimming pool at our hotel.
Zachary's dorm room, under construction

Joseph takes the camera in hand and snaps revenge on the family photographer.
One more day.

1 comment:

The Gaunts said...

Ahhh, I love reading about this trip. My kids are only 3 and 1 and I get the anxious feeling already of driving my child across the country. I can sense your excitement for him, yet your sadness and nervousness of leaving him so far away. Thank you for sharing your heart with us!