Around the nation, a new breed of collegiate clubs is flourishing. These clubs, like the influential Anscombe Society at Princeton University, provide students with a supportive environment in which to talk about love, fidelity, and family.  Rodzinka, meaning “little family” in Polish, is Notre Dame’s version of such a student organization.

Largely supported by the Love and Fidelity Network, Rodzinka’s goals are to expose both undergraduate and graduate students to examples of successful marriages, to demonstrate the high rate of people committed to ideals of fidelity and love, and to discuss these ideals from different academic standpoints and disciplines.

Only in its fourth year at Notre Dame, Rodzinka has already hosted a variety of successful speakers. “[Former Notre Dame student] Kelly Levis and some friends started the group in the fall of 2008, and when she passed it down to me after graduating, I thought it had been in place for much longer—everything was so well-organized,” Rodzinka President Erica Wick said.

From the sociology department’s Christian Smith, who discussed his personal research on the significant influence of parents on the religiosity of teenagers, to Professor David Solomon, who spoke of marriage in Jane Austen’s novels, the group’s contributors examine marriage and the family unit from a variety of academic perspectives.

Upcoming speakers include English Professor Sandra Gustafon on “Living Deliberately: Thoreau and the Work-Life Balance” and English Professor Joseph Teller, who will address “Passion, Personhood, and Marriage in PARADISE LOST.” Later in the semester, Duncan Stroik, professor of architecture, will explore how residential architecture affects family life and Theology Professor John Cavadini will answer questions marriage and family.

One unique aspect of Rodzinka is that all discussions take place over family-style dinners at the Knights of Columbus Building.

“The Knights of Columbus are one of our sponsors, providing us with support and a great place to meet,” explained Wick.  While intellectually stimulating, Rodzinka discussions do not require advance reading.  Wick extended a welcome to anyone interested in the speaker and topic to join the group for compelling conversation, new perspectives, and, of course, free food.

Wick emphasized that Rodzinka is “very flexible and wants the topics to be interesting to everyone; if anyone has even [a] loose interest [in] family and married life, now is the time to let us know about ideas for speakers or subject matter.”

“Students will have the opportunity to supplement their education, hearing from a variety of academic speakers and really rounding out their liberal arts education,” she said.  Wick touted the benefits of personal development and strong relationships built through Rodzinka’s network.

Ellen Roof is a freshman majoring in business and English, and she absolutely cannot wait for the new season of GLEE. She can be reached at