Sr. Mary Lynch and Richard Mazzei reflect on work as Ministers in Residence
Residential Life piloted a program this year which allows retired rectors to remain a part of the Notre Dame community. Retired rectors now have the opportunity to live in a dorm as Staff in Residence to build community with the students without all the responsibilities of a rector.
Sr. Mary Lynch, former rector of McGlinn Hall, and Richard Mazzei, former rector of Fischer Hall and O’Neill Family Hall, are the first two retired rectors to fill this role. Mazzei, nicknamed “Mazz,” shared his responsibilities in Baumer Hall:
“I’m retired, but I work somewhere between five to ten hours a week. It is hard not to work ten or more. My day consists of everything Fr. Rob, the rector, would ask of me. I also do anything that I think would be beneficial to the hall, and anything that I get Fr. Rob’s permission to do.”
For Mazz, his work has focused on the faith community in Baumer Hall: He told the Rover “For example, I’ve been devoted to the Rosary ever since I was a little boy so I started a Rosary group every Tuesday morning at 8:30. [The students and I] say the Rosary and have breakfast afterward in my apartment. I also go to all the liturgies that are in Baumer.”
After his years in Fischer Hall, Mazz acknowledged the significance of his role change: “I am not the rector, so I am not on duty. If someone has done something wrong, it has nothing to do with me.”
Sr. Mary explained that her transition from being a rector in McGlinn to Staff in Residence in Pasquerilla West has been great. She told the Rover, “My mornings are my own. If I don’t open my door until noon no one worries about it. The students have been extremely welcoming. Sometimes they will pop their heads in and introduce themselves. The other day some students saw me in the dining hall and came and sat with me.
While she may no longer have the disciplinary responsibilities, Sr. Mary has retained some of her rector practices: “I continue to keep my door open like I did as a rector. I hope to encourage the students to come in and say hi.”
Mazz and Sr. Mary reflected on their time as rectors. For Mazz, “being rector is probably the greatest job I ever had. It was the most rewarding job. It was [as if] everything I had done in my career [were] wrapped up into one job and one vocation, and I got to live with the young men who I served.
He continued, “As a rector, you are everything to everyone in that hall. You are their pastor and community builder. You have to make sure that men are living in community under the rules that Notre Dame has set. You are their guidance counselor, you have to navigate with them while they are looking for internships and anything else they would like to do. When they need help with medical issues you need to know how to navigate that. You run the hall, it is your hall, you live life with them, and you live it every day. In this job it is just the pastoral side, and I can just be there as someone else who lives in the hall.”
Sr. Mary holds the title of longest-serving rector of any female dorm and retired last year after serving in McGlinn Hall for 17 years. She shared her experience as a rector and the reason she chose to take the position: “[Being a rector] was a wonderful experience. I always considered it a privilege to walk with the students over these four years of growth and change. I completed a Masters’ program here over the summers and I had worked in campus ministry, but I always felt like there had to be a better way to connect with students rather than just putting out advertisements and expecting them to come to wherever the ministry house was. The whole idea of being a person who lived in the hall seemed to me to be the perfect way to connect with students on a much [deeper] level.”
Fr. Chris Rehagen, Director of Residential Life: Recruitment, Hiring, and Retention and former rector of O’Neill Family Hall from 2016-2021, also spoke to the Rover about this new program: “I see the program as a way for Residential Life to keep valued rectors in the hall after retirement. These are people who have a lot of wisdom to offer students and are still very good at building community. They serve as mentors and guides for students and some also still serve the university in other ways. They are also wonderful pastoral leaders, who can help complement the work of the rector and hall staff.”
Residential Life describes the dorm system as “one of the most distinctive features of a Notre Dame undergraduate experience and unlike any other in American higher education.” The successful examples of the new Ministers in Residence indicate that the creation of this program has had a substantial positive impact on the residence halls at Notre Dame and so continues the unique legacy of a strong residential life community on campus.
Margaret Mathis is a sophomore studying classics and business economics who loves sewing and hopes to become an attorney. When she is not busy translating Plato’s Symposium in the Hesburgh library, she can be found narrowly escaping trademark infringement by sneakily hand-sewing the Notre Dame logo onto everything she owns. Reach out to her at email@example.com.
Photo credit: https://residentiallife.nd.edu/hall-staff/