Moreau Chapel, Notre Dame, IN (Window)

Moreau Seminary Chapel, Notre Dame, Indiana, USA


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: Moreau Seminary Chapel
Location: Notre Dame, Indiana, USA
Date of visit: Friday, 25 April 2014, 9:00pm

The building

Moreau Seminary is located on the campus of Notre Dame University and is the major seminary for the Congregation of Holy Cross,

The church

From their website: "Moreau Seminary [is] named after Blessed Basil Moreau, CSC, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. It serves as the major seminary for the Congregation in the United States. Seminarians live at Moreau and take their courses at the University of Notre Dame."

The neighborhood

It was also good to be back once again on the Notre Dame University campus, which is an independent entity within the city of South Bend, Indiana. The entire campus is very bucolic, with lakes, grottos and shady groves all around. Moreau Seminary is situated across St Joseph's Lake and just a quarter mile walk from the center of the campus, within site of the golden dome that tops the university's administration building and near the large mural, affectionately known as Touchdown Jesus, that graces the library wall (so called because it depicts Jesus with his arms raised in the manner of a football referee noting a touchdown).

The cast

Names were not in the bulletin and they were not introduced, but they were chosen by the two future priests for this special evening service. I was able later to learn that the readings were given by the Revd John Hermau, that the Revd Jim Foster served as cantor, and that the preacher was the Revd Kevin Grove.

What was the name of the service?

Lucernarium. "The Looch", as seminarians fondly call it, is a weekly evening candlelit service loosely based on the office of compline ("high bedtime prayers" is one description given to compline). Lucernarium is open to all students of the university and gives seminarians a chance to hone their preaching skills.

How full was the building?

Packed to the rafters because the children of the parish of Holy Cross & St Stanislaus, where Hart has been the deacon in charge of youth services, all came.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

We were greeted by Hart, who said: "Thank you for coming."

Was your pew comfortable?

Yes. It was a wooden pew, comfortably shaped.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

Happy and jovial. Nobody came in late.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

An eight-page bulletin with responses and music.

What musical instruments were played?

Piano and organ. A large choir of Holy Cross seminarians and brothers sang.

Did anything distract you?

No, other than the fact that it was very dark inside the chapel and I had to use my cell phone for light so I could see to take notes.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

Formal, but not stiff. The room was dark except for candles, with candles for all the participants lighted at the end. There was a mixture of readings, prayers, singing and ceremony. Because two of the congregation were to be ordained the next day, the place was full and the focus was upon the role of priests. The readings included Psalm 91 ("He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High..."), Hebrews 7 (the priesthood of Melchizedek), and Luke 2:29-32 ("Lord, you are now dismissing your servant in peace"), as well as a passage from Chapter 8 of the Constitution of Holy Cross ("We too shall find the cross and the hope it promises").

Exactly how long was the sermon?

10 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

10 – The preacher was so animated that all attempts to take photographs of him blurred.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

On Easter, Jesus spoke to us from the Cross with a human voice. Priests speak for him with a human voice, although they are themselves human, like all of us, with faults and failings. Jesus lives in us so we can live in him. Tomorrow, two future priests will lie prostrate on the cathedral floor, not looking to heaven, but with lips and face to the earth and all who walk upon it. They should see us as broken and wonderfully made, pining for love. The future priests will speak Christ's words to us and know Christ is leading us all to the Christ within us.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The singing, when the whole congregation were responding to the cantor.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

Although it was heavenly being back on campus, it was decidedly hellish having once again to navigate the twists, turns, roadblocks and unmarked dead ends of the Moreau Seminary roadways – and in the dark, no less!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

There was a party downstairs in the recreation room with libations and finger foods.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

There was beer, wine, soft drinks, fruit salad, a chocolate fountain with strawberries, short ribs, jalapeño poppers, jerk chicken wings, cheese, cold cut plates, and a whole salmon! But, of course, this was a special occasion and the whole congregation were celebrating the future ordination.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

10 – If I were a member of the Holy Cross community I would not have a choice. But even if I simply lived nearby, I would love worshipping in such a beautiful setting with people so infused with joy.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?


What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

The enormous choir – the seminarians and guests.

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