Exploring Eucharistic devotion on campus

Eucharistic adoration, a tradition in the Church dating back to the High Middle Ages, is well-established among the students of Notre Dame. During the academic year, adoration occurs in dormitories, but a continual schedule of perpetual adoration happens at the Coleman-Morse Center (CoMo) in the Chapel of Notre Dame Our Mother. 

Students, professors, and individuals outside of campus flock to the chapel as a locus for adoration at Notre Dame. Through all working hours of the school-week, there is always at least one person in the chapel visiting the Blessed Sacrament. 


Campus Ministry Assistant Director for Evangelization & Religious Education Brett Perkins coordinates a sign-up sheet for daily adoration in the Coleman-Morse Center. He traced the history of adoration in Coleman-Morse back almost 25 years. 

In an interview with the Rover, Perkins stated, “CoMo opened when I was a student in the spring of 2000. Adoration didn’t happen as often as it does now when I was in undergrad.”

He continued, “Adoration was one evening a week in the Fisher Hall chapel overnight. It was a very small group and an all night vigil was hard to maintain. On Fridays it happened at noon in the Lady Chapel a little before the 11:30 and 5:15 masses.”

While Perkins studied at Notre Dame, adoration was not well-known. “Adoration wasn’t really practiced much on campus. It wasn’t really talked about in RCIA or ever experienced. It was pretty isolated, it was a small group of students and it was not nearly as well-known.” 

Adoration became more frequent at Notre Dame as more students began to request it. When Campus Ministry constructed the Coleman-Morse building, students with previous experience of adoration noticed that there was a chapel in the building. 

When students started requesting more regular adoration hours during the day, Perkins shared, “The challenge became: could we dedicate our chapel space to something like adoration, which of course would mean other things couldn’t happen there.” 

After adoration left Fisher, it became a daily practice with more regular hours. Because adoration is largely student driven, it is only offered when students can cover the time slots. Currently, adoration in the CoMo occurs Monday through Friday, 10 am-5 pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays it is extended to 8pm.

The Chapel

The Chapel of Notre Dame Our Mother is decorated so as to facilitate prayer and contemplation. An anonymous Benedictine monk from the Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana created the mosaic of the Blessed Virgin in the back of the chapel. The windows reflect the themes of prayer, community, and service as pillars of Notre Dame education. These windows also illustrate the purpose of the Coleman-Morse Center, which is dedicated to academic services for students. 

Perkins noticed that even the dormitories have introduced more frequent hours for adoration, remarking, “It was never the case that we had as many halls do adoration as there are now. When I was an undergrad, I don’t remember there being adoration in any other hall except Fisher.” 

The Monstrance 

Perkins also shared details about the monstrance that houses the Blessed Sacrament. “The monstrance we have now was a little bit more expensive, but you can see more of Jesus and it is still beautiful, taller, heavy, so it’s substantial.”

Perkins continued, “It is made of a precious metal … to honor the Lord. Fr. Pete and I both agreed a monstrance would last many years. One thing we also agreed on was having the spotlight …  It highlights Our Lord’s presence there. It is a little change, but it can make a big difference.”

The crown of thorns around the monstrance reminds us of the image of the Sacred Heart, and the Holy Cross on top points toward the Congregation of Holy Cross. The monstrance itself is crafted in the shape of a typical sunburst. The red jewels remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice, signifying Jesus’ complete self-gift, both in His crucifixion and in the altars where He is made present. Further, there is also a decorative dove on the stem to remind us of the Holy Spirit’s presence, because an encounter with Christ is an encounter with the whole Godhead.

Student Reflections 

In his remarks to the Rover, Perkins encouraged more students to come to adoration: “The Lord waits for us, the Lord has loved us from the moment of our conception and wants nothing more than to be in loving relationship with us. But He is also patient and looks for any opportunity to wake us up to see His existence in the world.” 

Many have taken up Perkin’s call, with Coleman-Morse adoration being one of the most popular prayer destinations on campus. Jack Thornton, a junior majoring in philosophy and theology, told the Rover, “The time that I spend in the adoration chapel is the most important part of my day. Mental prayer has always been a really important part of my spiritual life, and there is nothing more beautiful than speaking with our Lord exposed in the monstrance.” 

Freshman Caylie Cruz, majoring in theology, told the Rover: “I can’t express how much it means to me to have the opportunity for regular adoration in the chapel of Coleman-Morse. Inspired by the example of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, I resolved to make a daily holy hour the summer before I came to Notre Dame. The fact that we have frequent adoration in Coleman-Morse speaks to the priorities of Notre Dame students.”

Genevieve O’Connor, a second-year student in the Masters of Theological Studies (MTS) program in Moral Theology, spoke to the Rover about the ways in which Coleman-Morse adoration will impact her after graduation: “I often think about the fact that someday, when I’m working or teaching or being a full-time parent, I will dearly miss my days at Notre Dame when there was adoration available almost all day every day—whenever I needed it, whenever I wanted it. I can fuel up now—contemplating, resting, loving Jesus in this special form of prayer—for whatever my future brings.”

Coleman-Morse adoration will continue throughout the Lenten season. 

Marcelle Couto is a junior majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies and theology. She can be reached at mcouto@nd.edu.

Photo Credit: Matt Cashore, ND Ministry

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