College Bound: Faith and Service

Author: Catherine O'Leary


College Bound is the Notre Dame admissions podcast.  Brian McGee ‘21 and Adeline Chappuis ‘23 join us for Episode 7: Faith and Service to discuss their experiences with faith and service, on and off campus.

Read the previous blogs: 

  1. Application Review and Deadlines
  2. Academic Criteria for Admission
  3. Activities and Recommendations on Your Application
  4. Financial Aid and Merit Aid
  5. Notre Dame Traditions
  6. Residential Life and Dorms 

Faith and service are two of Notre Dame’s most important and distinguishable aspects. As for faith, Campus Ministry is dedicated to cultivating the faith life of all students. Their ministries foster spiritual growth through various forms of worship, personal prayer, pilgrimages, retreats, service, and faith sharing groups. Perhaps one of the most popular ways to get involved with Campus Ministry is through Compass Small Groups, a peer ministry aimed at building supportive, faith-based communities at Notre Dame. All spiritual journeys and faith backgrounds are welcome, and these upperclassmen led groups are a great way of forming new friendships while deepening one’s faith.

Furthermore, Notre Dame is unique in that each of the 33 undergraduate residence halls has its own chapel, meaning that you can attend Sunday Mass without leaving your home! Each dorm also has a weekday Mass, many of which have fun accompanying themes - two of my favorites are Duncan Hall Donut Mass and Dillon Hall Milkshake Mass. There are several faith-based groups for non-Catholic students, such as Iron Sharpens Iron, LGBTQ Faith Sharing, and Mercy Works, among others. And if you’d like to learn about other religions’ traditions and major holidays, you can do that, too.

As for service, look no further than the Center for Social Concerns (CSC). This is ND’s hub for social engagement, with opportunities ranging from local to international. Its purpose is to nourish community-engaged scholars through the enactment of Catholic Social Teaching. The CSC is concerned with human dignity, pursuing the common good, and standing in solidarity with the poor and marginalized. It offers two minors as well as several credit-bearing courses, taken by over 1,000 students each year. 

One of the most popular of the Social Concerns Seminars is the Appalachia Seminar. With credit counting toward either a CSC minor or a Theology requirement, this seminar involves experiential learning and takes place at several different sites around the Appalachian region. In addition to weekly meetings on campus with their seminar group, students travel to these remote sites during their fall or spring break for a week of service, learning, and fellowship with the local community. This experience is a highlight of many students’ undergraduate years and can offer valuable insight into the culture, struggles, and realities of this region. During my sophomore fall semester, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Nazareth Farm in Salem, West Virginia. In addition to forming several new friendships, I gained a greater appreciation of faith in action as we worked to meet the housing needs of the Salem community.

A second, but equally exciting opportunity, offered through the CSC is International Summer Service Learning Projects. These eight-week, summer service learning programs in various parts of the world are focused on using Catholic social tradition, community engagement, and social analysis to study global issues. Student participants are given the opportunity to meet local needs in various communities around the world, while examining the causes of poverty and injustice faced by that region. Students engage in a variety of different service opportunities and live at sites in countries like Brazil, Ghana, Nepal, and Tanzania to name a few. These students then return home with a new knowledge and appreciation for a different culture, as well as a deeper understanding regarding the process of creating links of solidarity across various social, geographic, and linguistic borders. You can also complete a Summer Service Learning Program domestically, too.

Outside of the CSC, there are countless opportunities to engage in service with the South Bend community. This is made easy through Back the Bend. It’s an annual event where Notre Dame and other local colleges and universities partner with the South Bend community for a day of service. This event is a great opportunity to explore the specific needs of the surrounding area and determine which organization might be the best fit for each student. 

Here at Notre Dame, we see faith and service as inherently connected, and we are excited to walk with students as they deepen their faith, and discern how to connect their unique gifts and talents with the needs of the world.