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Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024
The Observer

Prayer service celebrates life of Martin Luther King Jr.

Bundled in coats and scarves with candles in hand, members of the Notre Dame community crowded into the Main Buidling to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. at a prayer service Monday evening.

University President Fr. John Jenkins opened the ceremony with a prayer, calling for the Notre Dame community to be more inclusive and welcoming.

“May our celebration tonight, and this week, propel us,” he said. “May it motivate us. May it energize us. May it unite us in a commitment to respect and admire and learn from what makes each of us unique.”

Assistant director of multicultural ministry Becky Ruvalcaba delivered a speech calling for a return to forgotten moral principles and renewed awareness of God’s presence, referencing King’s sermon “Rediscovering Lost Values.”

“As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, the real problem is that through our scientific genius, we’ve made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius, we have failed,” she said. “We have failed to make of it a brotherhood.”

Referring to a passage in the Gospel of Luke, Ruvalcaba said that just as Joseph and Mary left Jesus behind in Jerusalem, so too has society left behind an awareness of God’s presence, which she described as a “mighty precious value.”

“We have become too complacent and we have not taken the time to stop and look for what we have left behind like Mary and Joseph,” she said. “Because we have not taken the time, man’s issues and the world’s ills continue to exist.”

Ruvalcaba said that in addressing these issues, King drew from his relationship with God and others.

“All that he did for civil rights and for all humanity was realized not just because of his scientific genius, because the man was smart — it was realized because of his desire to live in brotherhood in and through his moral and spiritual genius,” she said. “[It was] realized in his constant search for God, our brother, who with Mary and Joseph walks with us in justice, kindness, honesty, truth and love.”

Ruvalcaba concluded her speech with a call for individuals to reflect on their own shortcomings.

“We must begin by asking forgiveness from God and from one another for our own sins of indifference and hate, for fear and lack of trust, for our selfishness,” she said. “From this place of humility, God’s love will move us to stretch out our hands to one another and to build beautiful communities of brothers and sisters.”

After the service ended, attendees processed to the center of God Quad and placed candles at the foot of the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Freshman Haley Wooton said she was impressed by the number of students at the service.

“I was really inspired by the amount of students who were passionate about this event and were excited to come and join in this expression of faith for such an important issue,” she said.

Junior Carlos Grosso said he was struck by Ruvalcaba’s speech and the ways in which it highlighted underlying problems in society.

“To me, what stood out the most was the way that lack of communication is what has led to a lot of the hot button issues that are contentious,” he said. “It’s about the lack of people with power and influence willing to put themselves in the shoes of those who aren’t in their position.”