Forever Irish: Reunion 2019 Brings Alumni Back, Showcases Faith and Academics

Author: Shannon Rooney


Last weekend the University welcomed more than 3,600 alumni back to campus for Reunion 2019. The event, which spanned four days, showcased Notre Dame's academics, world-class facilities, and faith life, along with a chance for alumni to reconnect with one another. 

Continuing education is a hallmark of Reunion weekend. In addition to various seminars, academic activities included the series ND Explores featuring McCourtney Hall and Innovation Park. Alumni took part in hands-on tours of these vibrant facilities, learned about the University's impact in STEM, and learned how commercial projects go from idea to the marketplace. 

The ND Perspectives series presented a panel discussion titled "The Catholic Church in Crisis," moderated by NBC news correspondent Anne Thompson '79. The panel included Notre Dame faculty, as well as the chief operating officer for the Archdiocese of Chicago, who addressed the current climate in the Church and possible solutions for the future. In addition, the Fr. Ted Said speaker series featured short, TED-style inspirational talks by Notre Dame faculty and alumni on topics including immigration, the Civil Rights Movement, and healthcare issues.

Campus tours are always popular events during Reunion and offer alumni more opportunities for learning and reflection. Rev. Paul Doyle, C.S.C. '65, '75 led a special Chapels of Notre Dame tour along with a discussion on aspects of faith represented in the architecture of these sacred spaces. There were also class Masses, a special service honoring veterans, and a showing of the one-man play Sorin: A Notre Dame Story, rounding out the spiritual aspects of Reunion. 

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Alumni also enjoyed individual class receptions and dinners, as well as an all-class refreshment hub. Mike Sullivan ’90, senior director of Alumni Programs with the Notre Dame Alumni Association, says one of the best parts of Reunion is alumni reconnecting with their classmates and friends in these spaces. "We had alumni who haven’t seen each other in five, 10, 20 years, and you could see the joy on their faces as they reconnected,” says. “That joy lasts the whole weekend. It might’ve been 20 years since you were a student, but it’s like you never left.”

Alumna Ann Bever '79 agrees. "The Reunions are fun because, even if your best friends don’t come, the people that you hung out with in college, you start to develop Reunion friends. So I see Reunion friends every five years." Coming back to campus connects Bever with the people and values that have remained important to her in the years after graduation. "I think the lessons you learn here about faith and justice and caring for people...most people come out of here caring and trying to live those things in [their lives]."

Those ideals are expanded upon in Reunion programming. “Many people feel so strongly affiliated with Notre Dame in part because of our spiritual mission,” says Sullivan. The opportunities for spiritual engagement and discussion throughout the weekend make the Reunion experience "uniquely Notre Dame."  

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