Communion and Liberation at the University of Notre Dame
With over 400 clubs across our campus community, it can often be overwhelming for students (especially first-years) to learn about every single organization. While many students are familiar with the Sorin Fellows, the Knights of Columbus, and Right to Life, one of the lesser-known groups is Communion and Liberation University (CLU).
The group is a chapter of the Communion and Liberation (CL) movement founded by Fr. Luigi Giovanni Giussani in Italy during the 1950s. His goal was to impart the relevance and reasonableness of the Catholic faith, especially upon young people. By bringing together a community of people who have truly encountered God and developed a relationship with Him, Giussani believed, that group can be authentically liberated to know, love, and serve God. This was first implemented (largely unintentionally) when Fr. Giussani was teaching at a Catholic high school in Milan in 1954. By appealing to man-made beauty as well as that found in nature, he laid out the necessity of the Faith and invited his students to make the choice to follow God for themselves.
The main tenets of CL education are as follows: the event of an encounter, faithfulness to tradition, authority, education to criticism and personal verification, and risk, which is a necessity for freedom. By enabling an encounter with God through events, retreats, and conferences, and then authoritatively presenting an authentic account of Catholicism, the organization allows the individual to grapple with the decision to follow God despite the inherent risk that they might stray from the faith. Despite Fr. Giussani’s death in 2005, the movement has now spread to around 90 countries, continuing to capture hearts and minds for Christ.
At the University of Notre Dame, the CL group was founded two decades ago by Paolo G. Carozza, a Professor of Law, Concurrent Professor of Political Science, and the Director of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. The group is composed of undergraduates, graduates, and professionals who engage in works of charity, community building, and School of Community.
The School of Community is a weekly meeting where members discuss theology, lives of faith, and the writings of Fr. Giussani and current CL president, Fr. Carrón. Typically the School of Community is held Thursday evenings at 8 pm. In normal circumstances, the group also participates in various service opportunities, including frequent visits to the local Holy Cross nursing home to visit, sing, and talk with the residents. Members of the CL group also pray morning prayer together to increase their community with one another and with God.
For many students, this group has had a transformational impact on their faith lives and continues to do so. One student, Thomas Deslongchamps, said “I would not be Catholic if it were not for the movement. I value my time and my life way too much to waste it on something false, and for a long time Catholicism did not seem to hold anything true or relevant for my life. When I decided to take the proposal of the movement seriously, I found that Christ does indeed continue to call me even today.”
Another student, Francesca Casarella, said CL has deepened her perspective on faith and life. “How does the meaning of each moment of my life reflect God’s revelation of Himself in the concrete details of my life? Where do I continue to encounter Christ? Being in a companionship with others who take these questions seriously has helped me to grow in the desire to live my life as a continuing event of the encounter with Christ,” Casarella commented.
In the words of a Church Life Journal piece by the Notre Dame Class of 2019 Valedictorian, Sofia Carozza, “Communion and Liberation moves me to live reality—all of reality, in its beauty and its difficulty—intensely. My life in the movement, therefore, educates my heart to help me become ever more human, ever more myself.”
These witnesses are testament to the good work being done by CL on Notre Dame’s campus. In a normal year, but especially in light of the state of COVID-19, it is so paramount that students are able to share faith in community. With limited Mass capacity, loss of singing, group meeting restrictions, and the plethora of other changes in students’ faith lives, it is increasingly difficult to maintain— let alone grow in— the faith. The Communion and Liberation University of Notre Dame provides an opportunity to preserve and build a relationship with Christ through a tried and true methodology and a community of believers who are on fire for God.
For more information about Communion and Liberation please contact Thomas Deslongchamps at email@example.com.
Evan Bursch is a freshman from Caledonia, Michigan with majors in Physics and Philosophy. If you share his love for particle physics research, theology, philosophy, or literally anything other than country music and modern art, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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