Women’s group encourages Catholic friendship

Although it was the middle of Holy Week, Wednesday, March 28 of 2018 marked a cause for great celebration in a humble building on the corner of God and South Quads. It was then that the Ladies of Columbus, a women’s group formed to parallel and partner with the campus council of the Knights of Columbus, was officially established. Serving the Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, and Holy Cross communities, the Ladies of Columbus invite women into personal and spiritual development through lived Catholic friendship with their fellow Ladies and the Knights.  

Over the past century, the Knights have had great success engaging like-minded men around campus and forming a fruitful community. Though women have long been welcome in the Knights Building, this was not known by many. A clear message was needed to indicate that a female presence enriched the community. Last Spring the stars aligned for the establishment of a formal women’s group. This group was intended to increase the number of women contributing to this invaluable space for formation on campus, and that hope is beginning to come to fruition.

The Ladies of Columbus hold to the same pillars as the Knights — charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism — and share the same mission on campus. They are a community for practical Catholic women to come and be together, to develop spiritually and in friendship. Many girls upon interview mention that they know of the Knights through some sort of family or friend connection; a dad was a Knight during his years at ND, a family friend is a part of their chapter back home. Through the formation of the Ladies of Columbus, more and more young women are able to become a part of something greater than themselves. In serving both those inside and outside of the community, they encourage one another’s ambition for pursuing a better version of themselves and their community. The pillars guide their activity, which they believe is achieved by firm reliance on God, hard work, and participation of the whole community.

The Ladies are quickly developing a reputation for Steak & Bake, their primary fall charity event, benefiting Hannah’s House, a Catholic maternity home in Mishawaka.  Thursday through Saturday of each home game weekend, the Ladies prepare from scratch, bake, and sell hundreds of chocolate chip cookies. As fresh cookies are baked during the busy hours leading up to kickoff, the scent of melted chocolate wafts through the air, adding to the homey atmosphere of the “Catholic Living Room” of campus. The process really draws the Ladies together. As Lady Liz Reyda puts it, “Joining [the] Ladies of Columbus was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. Baking and selling cookies for charities with other Ladies is such a fun, random way to get to know people that I wouldn’t otherwise meet!”  Steak & Bake also complements the Knights of Columbus Steak Sales on game day by giving Notre Dame and opposing fans alike more reason to linger and socialize with the community. Like Steak Sales, all proceeds from Steak & Bake are donated to charity.

The Ladies of Columbus run a variety of charitable and community-building activities, in addition to Steak & Bake.  With the conclusion of the football season, the Ladies will begin to visit Hannah’s House. The Ladies offer also offer a weekly Bible study. The sine qua non, however, of the Ladies is about a presence in the Knights of Columbus building — it’s called the “Catholic Living Room” of campus for good reason. Lively discussions on topics from prayer to recreation, and simple enjoyment of pleasant company are the norms. To walk into the Knights building is to enter a group of genuine people who actively care about each others’ well-being. In this way, and others, the space is intentionally Catholic; our Catholic values positively guide our interactions.  

For all reading this article, women and men, we invite you to come to the Knights Building and see if you’d like to be a part of this community.  Feel free to bring a friend along too—though if you don’t bring one with you, you’re sure to find one shortly after walking in the door. The Ladies are your sisters and the Knights are your brothers in Christ––we are eager to meet and walk with you, on days good and bad.  Drop by the building anytime, or email us at ndladiesofcolumbus@gmail.com for more information.  We can’t wait to see you here.

Julia McKeon is a junior at Notre Dame majoring in Theology and Political Science and minoring in Education, Schooling, & Society.  She is also the Grand Lady, and it’s a toss up whether she spends more time in the Knights Building or asleep in her dorm. Since no one yet has successfully answered the trivia question offered based off the Building tour, she invites you to stop by and become the first!  

Catherine Viz is a junior at Saint Mary’s College, double majoring in History and Humanistic Studies and minoring in Constitutional Studies at Notre Dame. She most often uses the Knights Building for brief naps, but when she is awake, she would love to speak more on the Ladies, or give a tour.