Freshman uncovers Notre Dame’s best kept secret
Freshman Drew Golding made an unexpected discovery late at night on February 20. Upon returning from winter break, Golding thought he finally knew his way around campus. During the fall semester, he had searched for his Music USem in O’Neill’s 2A section, tried to attend a dance recital in Debart 324, and repeatedly (and understandably) confused Walsh, Welsh Fam, and Walsh Family Hall of Architecture. After a semester of discouraging mishaps, Golding eagerly enrolled in a winter session course in elementary cartography with hopes that a robust study of campus maps would lead to a hassle-free spring semester.
After returning to school empowered with newfound navigational prowess, Golding confidently traversed campus, undeterred by the unwieldy lodges blocking diagonal sidewalks on every quad. Unbeknownst to him, however, his expertise was incomplete.
After a long night of homework, Golding left Hesburgh Library, still feeling the effects of an ill-advised 45 minute nap. (Note: The Rover advises students to adhere at all times to the recommendations of Moreau First Year Experience with regards to nap duration.)
Golding explained, “I live in Carroll, so it’s a long walk, especially in this cold. I usually stop by LaFun to reprovision for the trek. But that night it was so cold that I headed for the Grotto instead, hoping to warm my frostbitten fingers over a candle before continuing on the final leg of the journey.” But Golding never made it to the Grotto.
“After this class I took over the winter session, I really thought I knew every building on campus. But as I walked behind the Dome in the direction of the Grotto, I saw lights coming from a door I’d never seen before,” he said.
Drawn like a moth to a flame and still groggy from a half-completed sleep cycle, Golding decided to investigate. He remembers opening the door, descending down a short, steep set of stairs, and turning the corner into a large subterranean room.
“I had to de-fog my glasses a few times before I could really believe my eyes,” Golding said. Handicapped by the study of deficient campus maps, Golding had never even heard of the Basilica Crypt. So he was doubly surprised to discover that the Crypt functions as an exclusive Congregation of Holy Cross speakeasy — and it has done so since 1922.
“I’d never seen so many priests in one place before,” Golding mused.
One priest — later identified as Fr. Peter Rocca — provided music, reportedly playing post-Vatican II hits such as “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and a particularly moving rendition of “On Eagle’s Wings,” giving an air of sophistication to the gathering. Meanwhile, Fr. Pete McCormick manned the bar—a skill he gained from mixing mocktails for the Student Government-sponsored dances of semesters past. A handful of priests played euchre, while Fr. Terry Erhman documented the alarming levels of bacteria found in the crypt’s faded puce carpet.
In an interview with The Rover, Fr. John Jenkins confirmed Golding’s discovery. “It is—well, it was—the best kept secret of the Congregation. We’re all really good at keeping things quiet thanks to the seal of confession, but I guess it was only a matter of time before someone found out.” Jenkins shared fond memories of the speakeasy, recalling a particularly rowdy gathering that almost didn’t clear out in time for the daily 6:45am Crypt Mass.
Some have interpreted Golding’s discovery as a perfect example of the clericalism that still exists in the Catholic Church. “If women could be priests, things like this wouldn’t happen,” commented sophomore Amanda Hansen.
Golding, however, sees his discovery as a testament to the pervasive nature of fake news. “I’m just frustrated that they kept this from us. I mean, all the students really want—other than a meal served on an actual plate — is transparency. Misinformation harms us all, and these campus maps have misled generations of Domers. Frankly, I expected better,” he said.
Golding has been offered employment as a TA for future sections of Elementary Cartography and is currently writing a memoir about his discovery, titled Cryptic Secrets, which will be available for sale in the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore in May 2021. His next project will be an exposé on the hidden secrets of the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park.
Mary Frances Myler is a junior majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies and Theology. She is from Northern Michigan, and her ideal day would be spent hiking, swimming, and reading on the shores of Lake Superior. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.