October 11, 2017

Congratulations, you have made it to Fall Break.  This is a time that everyone needs because you have completed much work with lots of tests and papers.  It seems like mid semester exams have been going on forever.  I was at USC on Sunday and they were going through the same thing. You are more fortunate than those students because they do not have a Fall Break.  This is one more thing that makes Notre Dame a great place.  Enjoy this coming week as you visit family and friends and relax, catch up on sleep and enjoy delicious meals that your Mom provides.  There is nothing like a good home cooked meal. There are students who will be doing service and other things next week.  They will be doing a variety of things like building homes or learning more about the environment and the care of the earth.  Some are going abroad for the week to visit families and friends.

It is hard to believe that a few weeks ago we did not know our first year students.  They have moved into Ryan and helped make this a great community.  I hope they know how much we appreciate them and how grateful we are that they are here. We have several adopted transfer students who do not live here, but they are welcome at all Ryan Hall events.  If you have not met them, try to after Fall Break.  They and the Freshmen are wonderful women and we are fortunate to have them living with us and building our community.

I want to thank all those who help clean up after FJ’s.  We have a solid plan in which members of a Section sign up and help.  We have been fortunate the last three weeks that we have had volunteers from Alumni Hall who have come to help.  They have taken some kidding, but they have all had a good experience. I want to speak about the Sections who have provided 5 or 6 women to help at the end of the night.  I have appreciated it and want to thank those who have helped.

I want to thank CoCo Kelly and  all the women who have baked this first half of the semester.  There are many experienced bakers and some first time ones.  We all know that they have produced some amazing things which puts a smile on the faces of everyone.

I want to thank Caitlyn Clinton and the members  the executive board of the Hall Government on the many events they have organized the first half of this semester.  Everything has been first class and the Formal last weekend was wonderful.  Everyone said they had a great time and made good decisions.  Congratulations to everyone.

I want to thank Allyse and the Hall Staff for their love and care for all of us.  I think we are fortunate to have people around us who are dedicated to building a great Community.  We are blessed to have these women leading us.

I will pray for safe travel and a wonderful Fall Break for everyone.

Love you!

FJ

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October 5, 2017

These are sad and challenging days as we mourn the loss of life in shootings and Hurricanes. We are a country and a world that is divided and we need to discover hope in the midst of struggles. Our hope comes by embracing the cross and following Christ.  Let us be committed to praying for peace and an end to violence and war.

I saw pictures and stories of the men and women who died in the shooting in Las Vegas. It was frightening to see them because they were ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives.  I was touched by the life of a woman who was a special education teacher.  She was known for her humor, passion for teaching and her love of her students.  I think about her and pray for her and think about how her students feel with the loss of a teacher who cared for them.  There were also stories of people saving a spouse or friend and being killed.  There was a beautiful story of a man saving the life of someone who was bleeding to death.  There are many other stories that show us the goodness of people in the midst of the worst mass shooting in our history.

Let us learn from the Las Vegas event that love will prevail and that we need to know how to love and care for one another.  There are people who do not respect the dignity and value of life, but that does not mean we should think less of the beauty of life and the goodness that is around us.  We need to reflect on the beauty of life and perform acts of kindness with all people.

I want to remind you of the ways you have shown love and care in serving others.  Brittany Restic was talking about a class that she has that part of it is to mentor a child in South Bend.  She meets with this girl and gives guidance and love.  She wants to bring her to Ryan on a Tuesday afternoon and teach her to bake with some of the bakers.  This is a way to teach a person and give her hope and love and to be inspired by some of you.  I am reminded of Mother Theresa who showed love to the poorest of the poor in India by small acts of love.  There are other Ryan women like Cara Molulon and Hannah Mumber who are inspired to become doctors by their studies and experience of interning in hospitals in Mexico last year. Mary Carroll and Emma Sheedy spent last summer in Uganda and did acts of kindness in teaching and medical care.

You all have the passion and inspiration around you to do amazing things for others.  Look at how Megan Crowley inspires us by her generosity and serving us as one of the Mail Clerks and Alyssa Daly and Erin Albertini serve us waffles after Wednesday Mass or CoCo Kelly always helping me in many ways.  There is love all around us and let it remind us to be passionate about doing good.  I am praying for you.

Love you!

FJ

September 27, 2017

Today is the first day that it feels like Fall.  This past week has been a challenge with the heat and humanity that we usually experience in July. I hope you are enjoying this Fall day.

I wish I could have been here for the Section Olympics, but I had a wedding in Chicago and had to miss the excitement of the day.  I am glad that everyone had a good time.  I want to congratulate all of the participants and Section 2A for coming in first.  We need to be thankful for the leadership from Hall Government as they came up with this idea.

There are several women who have been adopted by Ryan Hall this semester.  These are transfer students who did not get housing on campus.  They live in a variety of places and they are allowed to be participate in our community life.  Help them feel welcome and at home.

Many of you know that I have been living with Notre Dame students for 33 years.  I have loved the experience of sharing life with all of you and the many men and women who have gone before.  I cherish the relationships I have and I love that I knew some of the fathers of Ryan women when they were students. I was telling some people recently that after I left Dillon after 20 years that I lived in Corby Hall which is the priest residence next to the Basilica.  It was quiet and peaceful, but I missed the energy and the excitement of living with students.  I am thankful for my experience with living with you and those who went before you.

You keep my young as I have so many great  experiences in sharing in your lives.  There are two areas of life that I have because of you.  I know many people my age who live in the past and find many of the issues of our day as difficult.  I think because of my living situation and many conversations with students that I live in the present and share your journey as you think about what comes after Notre Dame.  A second thing that I learn from you is how to use social media and how to connect with people.  These are skills that are helpful for my work with ACE teachers and former residents of Ryan, PW and Dillon.

I want you all to know how much I appreciate you and how your life is going. I talk a lot about how I get to live with the greatest people. I can think of you the way Jesus speaks of his followers.  He said to them, “You are the salt of the earth.  You are the light of the world.”  These are qualities that you bring to this community and make our lives beautiful.

I hope you can appreciate your intelligence, your beauty and your generosity and your goodness.  I thank God for all of you.

Love you!

FJ

September 20, 2017

I hope you are enjoying these beautiful days at Notre Dame.  The changing colors and the mild temperatures can help us appreciate the beauty of the earth.

This has been a busy time of the year because this is the second week of a round of tests.  There are certain ones that stand out like General Chem last week, Calculus, Orgo II and Accounting have put a lot of pressure on many people.  It has been good to see the support that everyone gives to each other during a time that can be stressful. The support and encouragement we give to each other is what the Ryan Community is all about.  Let us take a look at various ways that this happens.

We all know that it starts with Allyse and the Hall Staff.  This is a given.  There are many others who have chosen to do many things from Hall Government to Athletics to the maintenance of the building.  There are those who organize events like the Ryan/ Duncan week to the reveal of the Big and Little Sisters.  You can think about the many people who sign up and do things.

I really appreciate all of the bakers who are led by CoCo Kelly, Mary Carroll, Jenny Moore who have made a big commitment to this important event which is called FJ’s.  I tell everyone that this could not be done if it were not for the 20 or 25 bakers who give of themselves for the women of Ryan and the many others who come here.  We have many men come which is good because it is drawing others to come here.  There are too many events at Notre Dame that are women going to men’s halls.  I think it is important that people see this is our home and we are glad that they are here.  Hospitality is an important part of Ryan Hall Community.

There has been a proposal that we need help on Tuesday’s for cleanup.  I love that Mary Carroll has been so generous, but she bakes and then cleans up.  It takes 15 or 20 minutes and now we are asking for people to sign up.  The RA’s will be asking people to do this and I want you to know that I appreciate your help.  It makes it easier for every one.  Sacrifice is another important part of the Ryan Hall Community.

I was thinking that it would be nice if we invited a friend to come to Mass on Sunday’s.  It is nice to attend with someone you know.  I see some people walk into the Chapel and they do not want to sit alone.  Ask the people in your section and come to celebrate the Eucharist.  We have a good celebration and it is a good way to begin the week.  Celebration of God’s love in our lives is another important part of the Ryan Hall Community.

Thank you for your contribution to our life in Ryan Hall.  Let us be good to one another and encourage each other to become our best selves.  Know that I pray for you daily.

Love you!

FJ

September 13, 2017

I hope you are enjoying the Ryan Duncan week.  It was a wonderful night at our Social that brought together so many people to enjoy cookies, ice cream and good conversation. It is important that everyone at Notre Dame builds good relationships.

I want to bring up something for all of you to consider.  We are fortunate to have great women in Ryan who are generous and talented in a variety of ways.  I have a large number of bakers who make cookies every week for this community and many people from across the campus. CoCo Kelly, Mary Carroll and Jenny Moore are some of the leaders. We are always looking for people to bake.  Our problem is that we have to get some people who will step and be part of the clean up crew.  Mary Carroll bakes and leads the clean up.  I need one or two people to take the responsibility for the cleanup.  Let me know if you want to learn more about this project.

I have a question for everyone.  Are you making the most out of your Notre Dame experience?  You might respond that you are getting good grades and you have plans for life after you graduate.  Your life is organized and everything is going how you want it to be seen. Have you discovered joy in your life?  This is not asking if you are happy because happiness is fleeting and may happen on some occasions.  Joy comes when your life is grounded in living your faith and values and you are growing as a person.  Joy does not come because of your GPA or that you are popular and you have lined up the perfect internship or job after graduation.  Joy comes from how you love and care for others and when you share your gifts with those who have needs.

We have recently seen many people in Texas and Florida who are suffering because of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  There have been many people who have been generous in their response to these natural disasters.  We remembered on Monday the people who died when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York and the people who died at the Pentagon.  This was tragic.  It was also a time when many people gave of themselves to help.  We need to remember this event for how it called many people to serve others.

I pray that every day will be an opportunity to see how we can have generous hearts and that we can grow as disciples of Jesus who are willing to give and serve others. Life discovers meaning and joy when we love.

I am praying for you.

Love you!

FJ

 

 

September 6, 2017

Most Notre Dame students love this place for a variety of reasons which can be summarized as living with and working among some of the best people you know.  It is a wonderful experience if you put your self into Notre Dame  completely.  This is a time to learn who you are, what is important to you and what makes for a good friend.  Life is a long journey and this is a time to discover the path you want to take. Your Holy Cross Education invites you to develop your minds and hearts.

I see it when the Career Fair arrives on campus many people put a big emphasis on getting the ideal internship or job which is a sign of success.  I asked CoCo Kelly if this is pressure from home that drives people to be so intense about what will come next.  She is a wise woman and said, “I think it is the pressure that we put on ourselves.”  I agree with her.

I have spent most of my 33 years at Notre Dame helping people think about life after Notre Dame through working with students in residence halls and in the Career Center and ACE.  I have spent the last 12 years doing Mock Medical and Dental School Mock Interviews.  I want you to know that it is important to think about the future, but it is not good to be preoccupies with it.  You might wonder what should you be doing.  I believe that this is the time to develop your skills, talents and leadership ability.  It is what you do now that is significant that will help you in the future.

I told this story to Section 1A about a woman who graduated from Notre Dame five years ago.  She was an Accounting major and did extremely well.  She graduated with honors and had a good job with an Accounting firm and was living with her best friends in Chicago.  She had money, prestige and most people thought her life was great.  It wasn’t as she quickly learned she hated Accounting and was miserable in her job.  She began to think that she was living a life that was very selfish.    She wrote me in October and said she was unhappy and  had a crazy idea.  She wanted to go to Med School.  She quit her job at the end of the year, applied to a school to get a Master’s in Science and is now in her third year of Med School.  You know what helped her decide on Medicine.  She remembered she volunteered at a hospital while a high school.  That experience guided her.

I want you to encourage you to do something that will help you grow and become a leader.  This means to be involved in activities like RA, Student Government, Service and Study Abroad.  Don’t join a lot of clubs, but make a commitment to something that will help you develop your leadership skills.  This is what will stand out and help you discern about your future while making the most of your Notre Dame undergraduate experience.

I am praying for you.

Love you!

FJ

August 31, 2017

Hello to all of you beautiful women of Ryan Hall.  We have begun this new academic year and now we have the opportunity to organize life around studies, activities, prayer, exercise and spending time with friends.  I want to encourage everyone to appreciate every moment of every day you have as a student at Notre Dame.

We do well when can learn, discover and grow into the person God calls each of us to be.  You are unique human beings, each made in the image and likeness of God. You are valued and appreciated and from this follows your dignity as a human being.  I think we have to be reminded of every day because there are too many negative messages that we can hear and which can make a person feel bad about herself. There is too much pressure on us to live up to someone else’s perception of who you are and what you should do with your life.  Some people become driven by competition and trying to be perfect.  Accept yourself and begin to discover what is important in your life.

I think a lot about all of you and the amazing things you have done and what your goals and hopes are for your life.  I have many years of experience at Notre Dame as I was the Rector for some of the fathers of Ryan Hall residents.  I have learned about the amazing things that some of you have done and I am inspired.  Mary Carroll and Emma Sheedy are residents of Ryan who spent eight weeks in Uganda.  They were in different parts of the country and learned a lot about the beautiful people and both were able to serve in different ways.  Mary taught in a Holy Cross School and Emma was involved in health care education of the people.  They did wonderful things, but it was more than them helping the people.  They received much from the people.  Many people say that doing service helps the server learn what love is and that it involves giving and receiving.

I want to invite all of you to think about how doing service has been helpful in your lives.  This is an important part of the mission of Notre Dame. There are many things that you can do in South Bend and on campus.  There are people around you who would love to know you and this can be done by doing service.  This is what Jesus invites us to consider and he shows us in the gospel of John when he washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper.  Jesus gives us this example and encourages us to do the same. Develop a servant heart and you will find love in places and among people you never expected.  Our community will benefit and so will you.

St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians prayed this way for the people.  It can be our prayer,

Now may God, our Father, and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you,

and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another

and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts.

Know that I am praying for you as you develop your servant hearts.

Love you!

FJ

August 23, 2017

Welcome home Ryan Hall Wildcats!  Know you are loved, valued, appreciated for being part of this community.  You matter to everyone whether you are here for your fourth  or first year . We are all on this journey of building community and I am privileged to be part of what we have here.  We build on the great women who have gone before us and this is the time to continue to contribute to both Notre Dame traditions that began 175 years ago and Ryan Hall which was established in 2009.

There will be many celebrations of campus  this year as Notre Dame was founded in 1842 when Father Edward Sorin and six Holy Cross Brothers were sent from LeMans, France to the United States to establish a University.  They landed in New York and went to Vincennes, Indiana and then walked 300 miles to South Bend to begin our University.  There are 32 people who were joined on Monday by 100 others  to make a pilgrimage of Father Sorin’s journey.  Everyone is invited to walk the last  three miles from South Bend to campus on Saturday which will be followed by a Mass in front of Bond Hall and then a picnic on South Quad.  There will be details on line as well as in the Observer.

We realize that these may be difficult days for First Year Students because you are making a big transition as you have left home, family and friends and have come to Notre Dame.  You know residence life is important and you are fortunate to live in Ryan. This is great, but this is a big transition in your life which may excite as well as scare you.  Let me assure that what your are feeling can change every day as you adjust to a new way of life and make new friends.

I can remember being surprised the first time I felt homesick when I came to Notre Dame as a freshman.  I had wanted to come here all my life because my father was a graduate.  I was pretty happy and then begin to miss my family and friends in Detroit.  It was odd in that I only felt it on Monday mornings.  I recalled that I had always read the newspaper at breakfast with my father and that was what I was missing.  I learned that being homesick and missing family and friends is a normal part of life.  One has to be patient and realize that it is something that comes and goes.  When you make good friends and feel comfortable with the people around you, you will adjust.

Remember to be homesick is normal and that the remedy for it is time and realizing there are a lot of people here who want to meet you and will love you.  Trust the love, kindness and goodness of all of us.  Welcome to Notre Dame!

I pray for all of you every day and when my door is open, just come in if you want to talk or bake.

Love you!

FJ

 

June 7, 2017

Greetings from beautiful Notre Dame where the sun is shining on the dome against a clear blue sky and letting everyone know this is a very special place.  I miss all of you.

Our new ACE teachers arrived on campus last Friday as they have begun an intense eight weeks of learning how to be teach.  It is good to see Shawn Hall, Anna Bourbonais, Emily Tesitore, Maddie Felts and MK Williams.  They have an intense schedule this week as they have class from 8:30 am until 8:15pm with breaks for lunch and dinner.  They are tired and feel they are learning a lot.

I heard from Anna Murray who is in Morocco for a Notre Dame program that lasts three weeks so she will be returning to California this weekend.

Emma Sheedy arrived in Bududa, Uganda a few days ago and is involved in meeting people and talking about having healthy habits like making sure they have smoke ventilation in their kitchens and mosquito nets for sleeping.

This past weekend was for reunions of any class whose year of graduation ended in 2 or 7.  This means that the Class of 1972 lived in Ryan while the Class of 2012 was in Stanford.  They figure the older graduates would not cause any damage so they stayed in Ryan.  There were a lot of events that brought people together.  Many young graduates told me to remind you that it is important to appreciate Notre Dame and get as much as you can by being involved in activities.  You have a special opportunity at Notre Dame to grow and develop because you are surrounded by the greatest people you will ever know.

I was impressed this year in our section discussions on Tuesdays about how important it is to discover your passion.  Many students have learned that there are needs in the world and that your intelligence and talents can make a difference.  Most of this has been learned through great conversations, doing service and study abroad.  Think about the things you may want to do next year.  Think about the great women of Ryan who just graduated and the amazing things they are doing.  Our Rhodes Scholar, Lexi Doyle, is an example for us of making a decision to  do something to make our world a little better.

I would love hearing from any of you and what you are doing this summer.  There are some of you who have internships and others who are doing volunteer work as camp counselors or with direct service to the poor.  Become your best selves during the summer.  Know that I am praying that you are continuing to grow and becoming your best selves.

Love you!

FJ

May 3, 2017

Congratulations!  You have completed the classwork for this semester.  It is now time to prepare for Final Exams and complete those papers that are do. I have seen how everyone has worked hard and I remind you to be confident and believe that you will do well.

There are many things you can control during the next week and there are some things you have no control over.

Let us look at what you can control. You have the ability to set a balanced schedule in which you study, sleep, eat, exercise and spend time praying and reflecting on what is important. Plan how you want to approach your days and be faithful to what you decide upon.  It is not a good idea to get out of balance because it will just cause you to be stressed and worried.

There are many things that you do not have control over and these often times have nothing to do with Final Exams.

We will be saying good bye to our seniors, juniors going abroad in the Fall and just being away from Notre Dame for three months.

Let us, however look at the RA’s who will be graduating from Notre Dame on May 20th.

Anna Bourbonais transferred to Notre Dame and is sweet, kind and generous.  She has a quiet presence that can move mountains.  She loves everyone she encounters.

Cathy Baxter also transferred to Notre and is enthusiastic, loving and passionate about Pure Michigan, her family, Club LaCrosse and her dog. Cathy is a pillar of strength.

Shawn Hall walked into my room with her fellow ginger, Erin Hanahoe, and wanted to bake.  Shawn is humble, devoted to her friends and shows love by speaking the truth to everyone.  She is “Ms. Ryan Hall Sports” and that drives her to reach out to everyone and get them involved in all athletic events.

Katie Arndorfer is sincere, focused and all about love of Christ and everyone at Notre Dame.  She is a gifted writer who connects student life to the gospel and she is not afraid to step out of her comfort zone.

Lexi Doyle is intelligent, strong, passionate and devoted to her friends.  She has so many talents and she is the most humble person I know.

Emily Tessitore is kind, caring and generous and she is a talented athlete.  She makes everyone feel safe and secure.

It hurts to say good bye to people we love.  Accept that as part of the stress we are feeling and instead of fighting it, accept it as what it means to love others.  I am praying for you.

Love you!

FJ