EXALT Adoration offers Catholic praise and worship

Tucked just behind the Golden Dome stands Lewis Hall. Although the dorm’s name is known widely across campus, the faith forming event that took place within it on Friday, September 20 is unknown to many. EXALT Adoration is an event that takes place four times throughout the semester, each time in a different location on campus. EXALT was initiated by a small group of undergraduates about five years ago. The event is usually held from 7:30-9:00 p.m. on Friday nights, with an ice cream social taking place after. 

Upon entering the hall, attendees were greeted with warm smiles and friendly welcomes. The atmosphere of peaceful reflection was emphasized by the group who gathered together. 

Before adoration began, Fr. Dennis Strach, C.S.C. of Knott Hall, who lead this month’s event, offered a reflection to those gathered. He emphasized that each of us has a call from God, and it is our responsibility and decision to answer Him. Even in our individual brokenness, God desires to make each of us whole. If we find ourselves distant from Him, He never abandons us. We can desert Him time and time again, yet He always forgives us and longs to be in a loving relationship with us. 

It is hard for people to be vulnerable, according to Fr. Dennis. It is hard for us to offer up the parts of our lives that we tend to hide away from shame. We fear rejection, and we fear that we are “unworthy” of forgiveness. However, Fr. Dennis encouraged the students gathered to open their hearts to God. As students, we need to allow more space for the Lord to reside in our lives. We tend to push religion aside to focus on other school-related things, such as homework, social events, and extracurricular activities. However, letting God be an integral part of our day to day life is an important step in developing a strong and healthy relationship with Him. Fr. Dennis’s words offered great material to ponder during adoration. 

Totus Tuus, a student-led worship band, performed for the service. They accompanied with praise and worship songs, periods of piano and guitar, as well as giving students time to silently pray before the Eucharist. During this time there were also priests offering confession. 

Mary Mueller, a sophomore, commented that her favorite part of EXALT was “the presence of a united community in worship.” For everyone gathered, it was a powerful experience to be surrounded by numerous students from different backgrounds, all coming together because of their shared beliefs. Despite the differences in the crowd, it was a great opportunity to listen to other people’s advice when it comes to our faith relationship. 

Christina Randazzo, a freshman, said of the event, “I liked listening to what other people had to say. It really encouraged me to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective.” 

Why is this event so important to the Notre Dame campus? EXALT provides an excellent opportunity to further develop one’s faith in a low-commitment way. Students do not have to attend the entire service and can come and go as they want. EXALT offers a great time for students to reflect on their college experience thus far, and to disconnect from the worldly distractions which turn us away from God. 

Meghan O’Brien, a Saint Mary’s senior and one of four student coordinators for EXALT, has many hopes for the students who attend: “I hope that people take from EXALT a sense of having encountered the living Christ, most present in the Eucharist ー though present, too, in the faces and voices of those gathered and brought together around Him.” 

Personally, I thoroughly experienced God’s presence within the Lewis Hall chapel on Friday. I would recommend anyone, whether strong in their relationship with the Lord or still searching for answers, attend EXALT. The remaining dates for EXALT this semester are October 11, November 15, and December 6.  

Ireland Majewski will be graduating from the Class of 2023, with a planned major of History and Pre-health. She is a proud member of the 7.0 Gateway cohort from Holy Cross College. Contact her at imajewsk@nd.edu.