Notre Dame Students Plan Prayer Vigil During Commencement

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

Notre Dame seniors who refuse to attend this weekend’s commencement where pro-abortion president Barack Obama will be honored are planning to hold a prayer vigil at the same time as the official ceremonies. Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, will attend the vigil.

The Class of 2009 Vigil for Life will be held at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on the Notre Dame campus at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 17. Students will pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary and Fr. Frank will give five-minute meditations prior to each decade.

“It’s not a political issue; this is an issue of human dignity, and it’s a Catholic issue,” said Greer Hannan, a Notre Dame graduating senior. “As a Catholic university, we need to stand up for it.”

The prayer vigil is part of a two-day rally that has been officially sanctioned by the university. The evening before the commencement, the bishop of the Fort Wayne- South Bend diocese, Rev. John D’Arcy, will lead a candlelight prayer vigil for graduating seniors and their families to pray for an end to abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

On May 17, Commencement Day, in addition to the meditation ceremony, a large rally will be held on the South Quad of the university, the campus’ main quad, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Speakers at the rally will include Elizabeth Naquin Border, Notre Dame graduate and former chairman of the board for the Women’s Care Centers in South Bend; Rev. Joseph Raphael, Notre Dame graduate and principal of St. Augustine’s High School in New Orleans; William Solomon, director of the university’s Center for Ethics and Culture; and Chris Godfrey, a Notre Dame law school graduate and former offensive guard for the Super Bowl XXI champion New York Giants.

In response to the invitation, Fr. Pavone stated, “In standing with these students, I am standing with the true spirit of Notre Dame: a pro-life spirit, in harmony with human reason and Catholic Faith. The scandal that has been generated does not represent what Notre Dame is all about; it represents a radical betrayal of what Notre Dame is all about. I am encouraged by the pro-life activities of so many student groups on this campus – activities that are carried out all year round.”

Fr. Pavone added, “Hundreds of thousands of Catholics, hundreds of priests, and dozens of bishops have called upon Notre Dame to end this scandal by withdrawing its invitation to President Obama. The result of that demand is not in our control. But one final response to this scandal is fully in the control of each graduating senior: don’t show up. Don’t participate in an event which will only serve to obscure rather than highlight the Church’s pro-life teaching and the true spirit of Notre Dame. Instead, come to the Class of 2009 Vigil for Life. The seniors who do this are manifesting the real meaning of commencement: they are carrying out the witness to truth and service that their hard-earned degrees have prepared them to give in the world.”

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