A Joyful Noise in Celebration of Life

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands … It is He that made us, and we are His … Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him, bless His name!” (Psalm 100:1, 3-4).

Right to Life’s Life Fest—which is a beginning of the year celebration sharing the club’s message that every life is valuable beyond measure—on September 3 was certainly a “joyful noise!” After a year of restrained (to say the least) activities and social gatherings, coming back together to celebrate the goodness of life, to celebrate each other, was refreshing and invigorating. We value community in its various forms—gathering in clubs, going to class in person, being packed into pews at mass, hanging out with friends—because we value life. We see that life is good. We take joy in it. And that’s what Life Fest was all about.

The day of, among the hundred-plus attendees, were lots of children running around kicking soccer balls and making quadruple-stacked cookie sandwiches filled with more frosting and sprinkles than cookies! Through all of those there, but particularly through the young kids, I was reminded of the beautiful gift of taking joy simply in being together. Right to Life Club President, Francie Shaft, told the Rover, “It was heart-warming to see so many club members together in community at Life Fest, sharing in the joys of life. I was very glad to see students, faculty, and friends of the university laughing, chatting, and enjoying cotton candy!”

We celebrate because, as Shaft told the Rover, “I wanted attendees at Life Fest to know how valuable their lives are, how many blessings God has bestowed on each of us, and how excited ND Right to Life is to welcome new members and build a culture of life on campus and in the South Bend community.” The day was filled with many blessings, including a strong showing from first-years who desire to build up the culture of life. First-year student Katiebelle Thompson, who was helping out at the cookie decorating station, remarked to the Rover, “I’m so glad I went to Life Fest. It’s amazing that there are so many pro-life people at Notre Dame, and I’m so happy that there are events like this to show freshmen like me that they’re not alone in what they believe.”

In addition to celebrating the blessings and joys of our own lives, Life Fest marked the beginning of a partnership with the pro-life nonprofit, Let Them Live, to share these blessings with pregnant mothers in need of support. Shaft related to the Rover that “through merchandise sales and the generosity of Life Fest attendees, we’ve already raised 1,000 dollars” of the 4,000 dollar goal for a particular mother. “I couldn’t be more inspired by the generous hearts of the students at Notre Dame.”

Mary Rice and Maura Brennan, the co-directors of programming for Right to Life, truly made the day one of great joy and hope. Rice shared with the Rover, “It was such a joy to hold an event focused on celebrating the lives of each and every member of our campus community, and we’re so grateful for the opportunity to spread the fundamental message of the pro-life movement: that every life is loved and valued beyond measure. It’s beautiful to see the pro-life movement so alive on our campus, and my favorite part of Life Fest was seeing the pro-life community reunited and re-energized as a community! Life Fest was the first of our many events this semester, and we hope to see you all at our future education, service, and spirituality events!” Let us go forward bearing this love and joy to all we encounter.

Anne Marie Bollman is a sophomore from Houston, Texas studying PLS and Theology. If she’s not busy reading for class, she’s probably watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice mini-series or spending time at the Grotto. Contact her at abollman@nd.edu.

Photo credit: Notre Dame Right to Life