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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer

milkshakemass

Finding faith at Milkshake Mass

Throughout its curriculum, research and community engagement, Notre Dame is committed to being a leading research institution where Catholic values and standards are the guiding moral framework and an important part of on-campus life. This integration of Catholic values into academic and personal life was one of the main reasons I decided to come to Notre Dame. It was a place where I could explore the academics I always yearned for but never had the opportunity to in the small country-side city of Brazil I was raised in, and also a place where I could explore my relationship with God, which was not always a good one.  

As I arrived at Notre Dame, I immediately sought a way to connect myself with God; however, having attended Mass only a handful of times in Brazil, I was completely lost during the service. I didn’t know most of the prayers, music, rituals and the fact that they were in English added the language barrier element to my confusion. Not only had I never been to Mass in English, but the language used during service is not in any way similar to what I had studied or heard before coming to campus. The more I tried to attend Mass and find the connection I yearned for, the more unwelcome and judged I felt for not having the knowledge that all the “good Catholics” had. It was as if it were some sort of sign that I didn’t belong in religious settings, and the connection with God I hoped to find in Notre Dame was not destined for me. From that, I decided to give up on my attempts at approximation; as a matter of fact, I avoided Mass, trips to the grotto and anything related to religion altogether. 

My avoidance of religion and God continued until one of my closest friends asked me to join him at Milkshake Mass with the promise of good and free milkshakes at the end. Despite initially convincing myself that I was only going to keep him company and enjoy the free food, the vibrant and welcoming atmosphere enveloped me from the moment I stepped in. From the first Mass I attended with my friend, I felt welcome, as if my lack of knowledge and experience were not in any way a problem. Since then, Milkshake Mass has become an essential part of my week, where I see some of my closest friends, find some sense of belonging, peace and the approximation with God I yearned for. 

Father Joe Corpora, the priest in residence at Dillon Hall, recently penned an article highlighting the inclusive nature of Milkshake Mass and expressing his appreciation for the diverse expressions of faith during the service. He also mentioned facing criticism from some individuals who believe he should have more control over us, especially during the kiss of peace. As one of the people who is going around, hugging everyone and talking during the kiss of peace and also before Mass starts, I want to thank Fr. Joe for continuously welcoming everyone to Mass, making it an inclusive environment where everyone — regardless of their previous knowledge, relationship to God, occasional non-exemplary behavior in church — feels like they belong and have a place at God’s table. His leadership allows people like me who want a better relationship with God, but always struggled to do so, to pursue and nurture that relationship.

Lara is a member of the class of 2026 from Taubaté, Brazil with majors in economics and Chinese. When she is not complaining about the weather, you can find her studying in a random room of O'Shaughnessy with her friends or spending all her flex points in Garbanzo. You can contact Lara by email at lvictor@nd.edu.

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