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Sunday, April 21, 2024
The Observer

O Come, O Come Emmanuel: My top 7 list

Nov. 7, 2018, was the day I decided that I needed my own list. On that beautiful morning, I read the Davis Gonsalves column “Ranking the spineless, copycat rankers” and thought … it’s time. The work of the list-makers has been extensive, as Mr. Gonsalves notes. So, like Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga did with the third installation of “A Star is Born,” I’m hoping to honor the rich Viewpoint tradition of offering a list of my own. 

Truthfully, there are so many options yet to be explored. Given my passion for hoops, I could list which Jordan-led Bulls teams would have a chance at beating the modern-day Warriors. Another list worth creating is a Top 5 for most random places that I’ve seen a LimeBike abandoned. Spots that lead the average passerby to believe that the zombie apocalypse may have actually occurred.

But then it finally hit me. We are now in the first week of Advent. Just last night, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” reigned supreme at Masses all across campus. From uptempo to slow-jam versions of the classic hymn, we sang of a desire to be freed from what holds us bound, to rejoice in the presence of our God. We are certainly not the first to carry such a hope. Take a read through this passage from Isaiah, written around the eighth century BC.

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, upon David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!" (Isaiah 9: 5-6).

The scriptures are filled with examples of men and women who have actively contemplated both the presence and coming kingdom of God. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we put ourselves in the shoes of Isaiah, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon and Mary as we ponder the promises that God has in store.

For people of faith, prayer is the best tool we have to contemplate the mystery of God’s work in our midst. Moments devoted to letting go of our to-do lists, our plans for the day and allowing God to fill us. Time spent away from the crowds, in quiet places where the subtle movements of our loving creator can be detected. If only we had places nearby that could accommodate such reflection.

Wait a minute! Did you know that Notre Dame has over 50 chapels on campus? Places uniquely designed with the hopes that they might foster an encounter with God. 

Truth be told, I have not prayed in every chapel, but there are locations on campus that have great meaning to me because of my own personal experiences with them. Chapels where I have felt the presence of God. So that’s my list! Below are the Top-7 chapels to pray in, according to my incredibly biased perspective.

  1. St. Andrew Chapel (Corby Hall)
Admittedly this is slightly awkward: the chapel no longer exists. Rest in peace, Corby Hall. However, when the chapel did exist, there was an etching on the back altar that said, “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” This quote from the final chapter and verse of St. Matthew’s Gospel always gave me great comfort and courage.
  1. St. Matthew Chapel (Stayer Center)
From 2013 to 2015, I had the privilege of working toward a Masters in Business Administration through Mendoza. There were a number of prayers offered in this chapel with the hopes that I might survive the next exam.
  1.  St. Patrick Chapel (Dillon Hall)
My first dorm Mass was offered in this beautiful chapel. If you stop by, be sure to offer a prayer before the statue of St. Olaf, the patron saint of Norway, where Knute Rockne was born.
  1. Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel (Keough Hall)
It was an honor to serve as rector of Keough for six years. Praying with and for that community under the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a role that I will forever cherish. 
  1. Notre Dame Our Mother Chapel (Coleman Morse)
The chapel is right down the hall from my office (115 CoMo). Most importantly, we have Eucharistic Adoration from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. every day of the week throughout the semester.
  1. Sacred Heart of Jesus Chapel (Moreau Seminary)
The chapel’s signature feature is the stained-glass windows of the archangels constructed by Fr. Tony Lauck, C.S.C. When the sunlight hits the colored glass, the radiance is truly something to behold. 
  1. Chapel of the Holy Cross (Stanford Hall and Keenan Hall)
I’m proud to be the in-residence priest of Stanford Hall. This chapel feels like home. 

Disagree with my list? Fantastic! Tag @NDMinistry on Instagram or Twitter with a picture of your favorite spot(s) to pray. 

Are you looking to spend a little extra time in prayer over finals week? The Basilica will be open and available from noon until 9 p.m. for you to drop in for as long as you’d like. As the semester ends, be sure to ask God for the grace to finish strong and remain grateful for all that you have received. Please know of my prayers for you in these days ahead. 

Fr. Pete McCormick, C.S.C., serves as the Director of Campus Ministry and can be reached at

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.