These last 4 days have offered me something I have not experienced for quite a while — uninterrupted time to reflect.  No email. No phone. No text messages.  

My day-to-day work is very rewarding, but some days are quite challenging. Seemingly never-ending thoughts of administrative tasks and the These last 4 days have found me packing up my phone in the morning and putting it in my backpack, not to be touched until the day has come to a close.  

Getting “unplugged” has provided me a chance to continually reflect on how thankful I am — my journey to how I have gotten to where I am today; where I am today; and where I hope to be in the future.  As an undergraduate student at Bradley University, I would never have imagined working at the University of Notre Dame. I would not be where I am today if it were not for the support of others. Most of my time has been giving thanks for those who have sacrificed on my behalf, primarily: my parents, my wife, my kids, and the my mentors at Notre Dame who have provided me countless opportunities to serve our students in different ways.

During this pilgrimage, I have learned about how “opportunity” can be so powerful. Fr. Moreau was provided an opportunity by his local priest to enter the seminary; Fr. Sorin was provided an opportunity by Fr. Moreau to start a mission in America; and I too,  have been provided many opportunities by Holy Cross Priests. A few days ago at the Shrine of Blessed Basil Moreau in Le Mans, my fellow pilgrims were asked to pray for Holy Cross priests who have made an impact on us.  A number of “C.S.C.’s” have made my last 19 years memorable and fulfilling, and hearing the names of the 30+ priests and brothers brought back many memories over the last 19 years. I will be eternally grateful for the opportunities that two Holy Cross priests, in particular, provided me in their respective roles as Vice President for Student Affairs: Fr. Mark Poorman and Fr. Tom Doyle.

As I return to Notre Dame du Lac, I ask myself this question: “What opportunities can I provide others to continue the legacy of Holy Cross?”

Written by Ryan Willerton