Moreau Chapel, Notre Dame, IN (Window)

Moreau Seminary Chapel, Notre Dame, Indiana, USA


Info and corrections →

Mystery Worshipper:
Church: Moreau Seminary Chapel
Location: Notre Dame, Indiana, USA
Date of visit: Friday, 6 September 2013, 7:00pm

The building

Moreau Seminary is located on the campus of Notre Dame University and is the major seminary for the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province. It is a modern multi-purpose building, with chapel, classrooms, dining hall, library, lounge, meeting rooms, gymnasium, and living quarters.

The church

The seminary is home to men who feel called to a vocation in the Congregation of Holy Cross. Seminarians live here while pursuing their studies at the University.

The neighborhood

The seminary is set on the edge of a lake, with a view of the golden dome of the University and the spire of the Basilica.

The cast

The Revd Francis T. Cafarelli, CSC, a member of the formation staff and instructor in faith and traditions, presided and preached. But the main participants were the two seminarians who were professing their final vows this weekend: the Shipmate whom we know as Hart, and his fellow postulant Patrick.

What was the name of the service?

Lucernarium with the Blessing of the Symbols of Perpetual Profession

How full was the building?

The Seminary chapel was quite full, with the families of Hart and Patrick seated on the two sides at the front. The rest seemed to be members of Holy Cross – see below.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Hart welcomed us personally as we arrived.

Was your pew comfortable?

The pew was conventional, with a cushion.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

Quiet, reverent.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Welcome to the Lucernarium."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

No books. A pamphlet was handed out for the responses and singing.

What musical instruments were played?

Piano and organ. Actually there were multiple pianos and organs in the chapel, although only two were played.

Did anything distract you?

The extensive stained glass behind the altar, unlighted because of the hour, caused curiosity. On a subsequent daytime visit, they proved to be spectacular "slab glass" windows from the 1950s. They depict the patrons of priestly activities: prayer, study, learning, preaching, and worship through music.

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

Very dignified, formal – as befitting preparation for a lifetime commitment. The Lucernarium was based on the office of compline, which has been described as "high bedtime prayers."

Exactly how long was the sermon?

9 minutes.

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

7 – I'd call Father Cafarelli's style "preachy", low-key.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

He listed what he called "the duties of Christians" as given by St Paul in his letter to the Romans, and paralleled them to similar passages from the constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Jesus said, "Come, follow me," and that is why we are gathered here tonight. We rejoice that these two men have committed themselves to begin following Christ, but it is only a beginning. A religious community is a body that represents imperfectly the perfect body of Christ. Hart and Patrick have chosen to be a part of that body. Such a choice requires the surrender of free will. They have chosen to walk down a path that will not be easy – but they have the Cross to guide them!

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The music, especially the singing. The back half of the room sang like a professional choir. We especially enjoyed the opportunity to chant in Latin once again.

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

Others will comment on how difficult it is to find one's way around the Notre Dame campus – but trying to do so in the dark was especially frustrating! There is a general lack of signage, and what signs there are give little help (we followed one that read "Smoker" – and it wasn't referring to incense!). At length we parked in a vacant spot that presented itself and stumbled on foot toward the light of the seminary.

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

We met Hart's family, whom we remembered having met three years ago when he professed his initial vows. There followed a reception with food and celebration.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Salads, three hot entrees, desserts, wine, and beer.

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

3 – A bit formal for us.

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

Yes, the lifetime commitment of these two young men is very inspiring.

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

The singing, especially, the Nunc dimittis.

Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you’d like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.

Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.

Comments and corrections

To comment, please scroll to the end of this report and add your thoughts there. To send us factual corrections, please contact us. We also discuss reports on our Ecclesiantics bulletin board.

© Ship of Fools