Community Unites for 175th Anniversary Celebrations

The university’s 175th Anniversary celebrations, held on August 27th, were nothing short of a spectacle. The day’s festivities began with the conclusion of the Notre Dame Trail pilgrimage, during which Notre Dame faculty and the marching band welcomed masses of Notre Dame supporters to campus. University President Father John Jenkins, CSC, led the procession of students, alumni, South Bend families, and other supporters up St. Mary’s Road to Notre Dame.

At the conclusion of the walk, pilgrims joined Fr. Jenkins for a Mass on Bond Quad. Standing on the steps of Bond Hall, Fr. Jenkins gave a homily encouraging a peaceful commitment to justice in the wake of the recent events in Charlottesville. He rejected the notion that universities should strive solely to educate the mind, neglecting moral development in the process.

“We are certainly committed to…epistemic virtues and the pursuit of truth,” said Fr. Jenkins. “But at this Catholic university we add to them other values, such as a commitment to the dignity of each and every person. A willingness to take responsibility for the common good. And a special concern for those who are most vulnerable.”

Fr. Jenkins urged the congregation to pursue peaceful, open means of protecting the vulnerable and marginalized within our society. “We counter [the violent] by providing an example of a university community where we pursue truth openly, speak freely and at times disagree passionately, but show respect for those with whom we disagree and care for the community we share. We counter them by giving witness to a different set of values. That is Notre Dame.”

Many students were surprised to see Fr. Jenkins out in public, leading the parade and giving a homily.

“Seeing him out there walking with us, he just felt like one of the boys,” sophomore Ryan Govi told the Rover.

After the Mass, the diverse crowd enjoyed a hearty celebration – in the form of a three and a half-hour picnic – on South Quad. The quad held everything from tables and inflatable tents – large enough to receive the moniker “food villages” – to a line of cornhole boards along the sidewalk. The free picnic boasted pulled-pork sandwiches, mac n’ cheese, tacos, burgers, ice cream, candy in buckets, long tables of toppings, and more. Healthier choices – fruit, vegetables and slaw – were also available.

To help prep the picnic, the university diverted the dining hall staff to on-quad food service, shutting down South Dining Hall for several hours. The student-composed First Aid Response Team, arriving early to prepare for the arrival of the crowds, witnessed food arriving in forklifts as early as 8AM.

Providing entertainment as well as food, the university set up a massive stage on the O’Shaughnessy end of the quad. Student artists, including acapella group Harmonia, performed for attendees, along with several well known artists – the band Gaelic Storm, Zach Dubois and Kat Quinn, the latter of whom recently appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

In keeping with Fr. Jenkins’ homily, the day’s celebrations brought together people from all different walks of life, students and South Bend residents alike.

“I actually had the chance to meet many nice and cool people that don’t go to Notre Dame!” sophomore Emily Luong told the Rover. “[The picnic] was an opportunity to meet people outside of campus and see many happy families.”

Alison O’Neil is a sophomore Biological Sciences major. She enjoys reading, running, and eating Boston cream pie from the dining hall. Contact Alison at