Sacred Sites of Notre Dame: Corby Hall

Posted by Rev. Aaron Michka, C.S.C. on Dec 15, 2020 7:04:00 AM
Rev. Aaron Michka, C.S.C.

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Corby Hall is the primary residence for the priests and brothers who work at the University of Notre Dame. It is our home in the heart of campus. Most members of Corby Hall actually live in student residence halls, which means that Corby Hall is not a house in the typical sense. Instead of a shared roof, what brings the men of Corby Hall together is our practice of having prayer and meals in common. It is through our worship and fellowship that we are restored and renewed for our ministry at Notre Dame.  

The Holy Spirit Chapel, which stands in the center of Corby Hall, is the place where we pray and celebrate the Eucharist. It has a large stained-glass window that depicts a dove in descent. On a bright day, the white and blue window is the first thing that catches your eye. The dove that you see is a reminder that Catholic education relies on the generous outpouring of the Spirit’s gifts: of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. Apart from the Spirit, how could we possibly know, love, and serve the Lord? How could we expect the same from our students?

No Corby Hall resident has appreciated this truth more than Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C. Father Ted, as he was known, served as Notre Dame’s president for thirty-five years. His work at the University and beyond was complex and demanding. At the same time, Father Ted’s spirituality was disarmingly simple. He made a point to celebrate Mass every day, and his favorite prayer, which he would often recite, was “Come, Holy Spirit.” He thought it necessary to invite the Spirit’s help in the face of any challenging task.

First opened in 1893, the old Corby Hall was originally slated for renovation. Plans changed when Notre Dame alumni Jay and Mary Flaherty visited Father Ted in the room he had long occupied on the lakeside of the house. Seeing firsthand the conditions of the old building, they made a generous contribution that, paired with a donation from the University, funded the complete rebuilding of the Hall. The dedication of the chapel to the Holy Spirit reflects how Father Ted’s reliance on the Spirit inspired others. His prayer has become ours.

In the Gospels, we read that the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove at the Baptism of Jesus. The words of a heavenly voice are recorded: “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” This passage shows that it is the Holy Spirit who helps us see Christ and know him as the Father’s Son. It is the Spirit who leads us into the mystery of the Triune God.

Perhaps these words sound abstract, especially to those raised in a secular world. Yet their truth is hiding in plain sight. That is because the Spirit moves at the moment any person encounters Jesus Christ, as the witnesses of his baptism did long ago. Like them, we are told that Christ’s life, death, and resurrection frees us from sin and death. Like them, we hear Christ calling us to a life that is fuller and more lasting, one in which dying to self leads to new life.

How does the heart react to these claims? What resistance does it meet? What possibilities does it inspire? We see the Spirit most clearly as we weigh these reactions, as we confront the memory of Jesus Christ and contemplate our response.  

This work of detecting the Spirit and seeking its guidance is an ongoing process. Nevertheless, we can trust that we have been given an Advocate to guide us through the challenges of life, to help us see anew the face of Christ. Such is the hope that has and continues to enlighten the men of the Corby Hall community. And such is the hope we extend to the Notre Dame family.

Come, Holy Spirit.

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Topics: Holy Spirit, prayer, pilgrimage, community, Fr. Ted Hesburgh CSC

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