Center for Ethics and Culture initiative supports integral development of its fellows.

Looking for a way to integrate your social, intellectual, and spiritual values into the context of your collegiate experience and your vocational discernment? The Sorin Fellows Program might be just for you! The Sorin Fellows program was founded in 2014 as an initiative of the Center for Ethics and Culture. It seeks to empower students to fulfill Father Sorin’s vision of Notre Dame as a “powerful force for good in the world.”

Pete Hlabse, the Student Program Manager for the Center for Ethics and Culture, called the Sorin Fellows Program “the flagship campus program for students interested in deepening their understanding of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition and exploring the enduring relevance of that tradition to their social, intellectual, spiritual, and professional development.”

Hlabse entered his position in October 2017 to “help shepherd the student-oriented initiatives of the center,” including the Sorin Fellows Program. A 2011 graduate of Notre Dame, he related that the program has four primary goals through which it strives to enrich its fellows’ collegiate experience.

First, the program aims to facilitate the development of enduring friendships. “We think that relationships and friendships rooted in authenticity are the foundation that allows for meaningful intellectual, spiritual, and vocational development,” Hlabse explained. Students form bonds through offerings such as the “Sorin Supper Club,” where faculty members host students for dinner at their homes; “Bread of Life” dinners, which facilitate discussions among students and faculty on issues relating to a culture of life; and “Vocation to Love,” a women’s group based on the writings of Edith Stein and Pope Saint John Paul II. Hlabse said, “In all, we want to encourage our fellows to experience friendship and community not as something ‘done on the side’ of intellectual, spiritual, and professional development—but rather, as a necessary component of integral personal development.”

The second major component of the program is to “enhance the intellectual experience of its fellows,” Hlabse explained. This centers on lectures, reading groups, specialized class advising, and faculty membership. This extends, also, to valuable opportunities to participate in “private meetings with influential leaders in church and state,” Hlabse elaborated, including “everyone from cardinals to Supreme Court justices to ambassadors.” Hlabse said, “The program seeks to provide the space for its fellows to explore how the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition serves as a means of enhancement—not deterrence—for one’s intellectual interests, in whatever field or discipline those interests may be found.”

Third, the Sorin Fellows Program seeks to aid its members in deepening their faith life. This includes the monthly First Friday Series Mass and Social. Hlbase reflected, “The Liturgy provides the fullest expression of what it is to be ‘formed’—to recognize ourselves and others as uniquely made in God’s image, our natures as fashioned to imitate and receive that same creative love, and our ultimate ‘vocation’ as called to be in eternal communion with that love.”

Finally, the fourth aim of the program is to “cultivate the fellows’ gifts and talents,” Hlabse explained. The primary way in which this is achieved is through extensive center-supported internships and funding opportunities. Center-supported internships draw upon the “vast network of the Center [for Ethics and Culture],” Hlabse said, to “connect fellows with persons and organizations who in some way share an intersecting mission with the Center.” This includes placing students in internships from the Vatican to Capitol Hill. One of the most prestigious opportunities it provides is maintaining a Sorin Fellow intern at the Pontifical Academy for Life in Rome each semester and during the summer.

Due to the success of these four goals, membership in the Sorin Fellows has grown significantly in recent months, currently reaching over 265 members – a 137% increase since the beginning of the 2017–2018 academic year. The program is open to all Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, and Holy Cross students, including both undergraduate and graduate students. It does not focus only on students from “traditional” disciplines such as philosophy and theology, but on every area of study, because, according to Hlabse, the “expressions of truth, beauty, and goodness that are woven throughout the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition can be brought to bear on every subject of human inquiry and practice—from finance to neuroscience, marketing to architecture, literature to law.” It may come as little surprise then, that the program includes fellows from every college and dorm at Notre Dame.

Referencing his earlier thoughts on how Notre Dame can serve the Church and the world, Hlabse concluded, “a great gift Notre Dame can provide the Church and the world is a consistent contribution of graduates who work across a range of professions— doctors, lawyers, teachers, counselors, accountants, researchers, professors— each inspired by the enduring relevance of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition…I hope, even in the seemingly simple way of cultivating the space for the development of enduring friendships, that the Sorin Fellows Program serves Father Sorin’s vision of being ‘a powerful force for good in the world.’”

You can learn more and access the application form on the Center for Ethics and Culture’s webpage,

Those who would like to learn more about the Sorin Fellows Program are encouraged to contact Center for Ethics and Culture Student Program Manager, Pete Hlabse (

Nicholas Gadola Holmes is a freshman studying political science and history. When he is not mourning the fall of Constantinople, he is probably engaged in a debate about the meaning of free will in the Lord of the Rings.