Invited by Campus Ministry, popular priest reaches hundreds
Fr. Mike Schmitz was invited by Campus Ministry to speak to students and guests about the importance of worship and sacrifice in the Mass. On Friday, February 21, Fr. Mike participated in a handful of events at Notre Dame, including mingling with students over refreshments, giving his famous “The Hour that Will Change Your Life” talk to an audience of over 800 people, and presiding at EXALT Adoration in the Basilica.
Fr. Mike is known for his many roles as a priest in the Catholic Church: powerful speaker, prolific vlogger, social media influencer, and chaplain at the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Newman Center. He is most well-known in the youth crowd for his ability to connect with students through personal stories and moving, coherent proclamations of the Good News.
Brett Perkins, Campus Ministry’s Assistant Director for Sacramental Preparation and Catechesis, was a main facilitator in bringing Fr. Mike to Notre Dame. “I knew this was someone we in Campus Ministry just had to bring to campus,” Perkins emphasized. “His joy, humor, and love for Jesus and the Catholic faith are contagious, and I think his ‘I’m all-in, and here’s why you should be too’ approach is simple and refreshing.”
Ironically entitled “The Hour that Will Change Your Life,” Fr. Mike’s talk in the Basilica on Friday was centered around the importance of worship in the Mass (the real hour that will change your life––if done intentionally). Illustrated by charming stories of his childhood and relatable anecdotes about being a young Catholic, his exploration of the Mass focused on how religion is based on worship, and on worship’s irreplaceable core: sacrifice.
Fr. Mike encouraged the crowd to be more intentional in the Mass and not so concerned with “what you get out of it.” He affirmed that there are two main purposes of every Mass: to glorify God and contribute to the good of the entire Church. Without being condescending or harsh, Fr. Mike stressed that the Catholic Mass is not for the attendee—it is for God. When members of the Church come to worship Him at Mass, they are participating in the sacrifice that Jesus offered for each one of us.
In characteristic fashion, Fr. Mike tailored his talk to the student-packed audience by including examples relating to ND football. He compared the congregation in the Church with the football field, where we are active participants in the sacrifice of the Mass. While gesturing at the altar, he said, “The field isn’t here,” then pointing to the audience, “It’s here.”
To challenge students to move out of complacency, he asked: Why would God allow us to refuse Him? To sit in indifference and stare off into space? “My guess is,” Fr. Mike said, “To get closer to us.” In every Mass, in every tabernacle, in every consecrated host God Himself is “disguised,” allowing us to ignore Him “because He is so in love with you.” Thus, how we participate in Mass is a very important decision. Will we remain with Him by the Sea of Galilee and receive the Bread of Life, or will we allow the shock of His love to dissipate in our hearts and choose to walk away starving?
Fr. Mike’s first stop on Friday afternoon was a “Cookies and Milk” social in the Coleman-Morse lounge. This event was open to 40 students, chosen from a raffle of over 260 entrants. Sophomore Mary Mueller was in attendance and said, “Fr. Mike spent time mingling with the students and then spoke to the group about the effects of finding identity in accomplishments and weaknesses.” He shared: “Everyone at Notre Dame is so accomplished…you can’t have just a job, but [you have to have] the job.” He advised the students that their worth is not in their successes or failures, but rather in their relationship with God.
After his short talk, there was time for Q&A, where discussion spanned from “How do you balance your time at UMD and traveling?” to “What are your favorite saints and why?” There were many laughs as Fr. Mike answered with his usual wit.
In his role directing RCIA, Perkins has “encountered students who decided to become Catholic Christians after encountering Fr. Mike’s talks on YouTube and via Ascension Presents, or who were greatly assisted on their journey by his straightforward, joy-filled teaching on particular topics of interest to college students today.”
Although Fr. Mike is not a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Perkins said that, he “was invited for the unique charism that he possesses as a gifted evangelist and speaker, which complements the many excellent Holy Cross and other preachers that we are fortunate to regularly encounter on our campus.”
It was Campus Ministry’s hope that from Fr. Mike’s talk, there could be “an awakening (or reawakening) to the beauty of life fully and vibrantly lived in relationship with Jesus Christ and His Body, the Church, which calls us to go and build the Kingdom one person at a time, at Notre Dame, on the margins, and beyond,” Perkins shared.
A look around at the faces in the Basilica while Fr. Mike preached and presided at EXALT Adoration seemed to say it all––that hope was indeed realized.
Sydney is a sophomore majoring in management consulting and Spanish. She is the newest member of Fr. Mike’s fan club and recommends that all watch this video. Sydney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.