Tag Archives: Beauty

Why We Minister: Patrick Kronner

Dr. Patrick Kronner, Choral Program Director and Organist, Director of the Women’s Liturgical Choir and Community Choir

God speaks to his people in many different and varied ways. For some it may be through the comfort of the Mass, or for others, the silence found when we’re open to it. For me, I’ve always felt God’s presence most in beauty. Whether it’s in his creation, the words of a prayer, or in the kindness that people show to one another. However, the beauty that has taken the deepest roots in my life has been the gift of music.

I vividly remember first finding this beauty in Beethoven’s symphonies when they were originally introduced to me in my second grade music class. From then on I would, as most grade-schoolers do, save up my pennies to buy cassette-tapes of Mozart and Bach (Oh, wait—was that just me?!) I felt a strong pull to immerse myself in this beauty. At the same time, I remember falling in love with the beauty of the Church as I experienced it in my community. It wasn’t until high school, though, that these two areas of my life began to intersect.

Dr. Patrick Kronner and the Summer Community Choir

Through the encouraging guidance and example of a high school mentor, I began to see the peace found in a life devoted to serving God and his people through music. Through my mentor, I was introduced to the pipe organ, the human voice, various monastic traditions, and the vulnerability that necessarily accompanies creativity. This, along with his inspiring love for his family and vocation, became a powerful model of a music minister’s life. It is a life which strives towards holiness through prayer and creativity.

As in most areas of my life, my sense of vocation did not come to me quickly. While I had a passion for music and the Church, it wasn’t always clear that these things should work together in my life. I don’t think I can pinpoint any one moment when I realized my vocation was to be a music minister. Rather, it has been through small moments, encouragement, challenge, and loving examples, that this picture has slowly come into focus.

I feel compelled to bring others to the beauty that I find around me. All of us are created in God’s image and should strive to reflect this beauty in ourselves and in all that we do. I take comfort in the fact that we’re all struggling together as we strive for holiness, just as many saints have done before us.

When I first arrived at Notre Dame for an interview over two years ago, the beauty of this campus was immediately apparent. Despite the gray and cold outside on that particularly frigid February day, I found warmth in all the people I encountered and in all the sights I saw. As I had felt at similar moments of my life, I was drawn to this beauty and curious to explore it further.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Having now spent two years as a campus minister at Notre Dame, I’ve been blessed with many moments of beauty. I’ve experienced it in the musical offerings of our choirs, in the familial care our students have for one another, in the intricate details carefully painted in the Basilica, and in the calm of a walk around the lakes. Most powerfully, I’ve seen it in the examples of service for the body of Christ that many of our choristers are boldly living out through their daily lives. All of this has enlivened my own zeal for ministry here on campus.

I minister because I hope to leave this world more beautiful than it was when I first found it. Jesus, through the greatest act of beauty, gave his life for us that we might fully experience his love and mercy. In the same way that my mentors, choristers, and students have inspired me to delve more deeply into this love, I pray that my work in campus ministry might do likewise for those around me. One of the most loving things we can do is to help others find this in the person of Jesus Christ.

Particularly in the spring, this simple quote from the Greek playwright Nikos Kazantzakis often pops into my mind: “I said to the almond tree, ‘speak to me of God,’ and the almond tree blossomed.” If we use our creativity for the pursuit of beauty, we’ll surely find God.

Why We Minister: Kate Barrett

Kate Barrett, Associate Director of Liturgy

Sometimes I walk around our almost ridiculously beautiful campus and think, “I can’t believe I get to come to work here every day!” I feel it when heading into the Basilica, or down that awesome center path through the trees between the statue of Fr. Sorin and the Dome, or past yet another group of tourists listening intently to the legends and factoids and lore that make up the Notre Dame story.

You may be thinking, “Aww, that’s sweet – she must be new here,” or perhaps, “Doesn’t she understand that there’s more to Notre Dame than how pretty it is?”

Well, no, I’m not; and yes, I do.

I’m almost embarrassed to say how not new I am … it’s been almost 36 years, actually, since I moved into Farley Hall as a first-year student, with a couple of short breaks here and there. A few things have changed: the bookstore, a tiny building on South Quad, was so cramped that at busy times you’d have to line up outside and wait your turn just to enter the building to buy books or t-shirts. What’s now West Quad was still about nine holes of the 18-hole Burke golf course, then our only campus course.  So you might think I’ve been here long enough to get used to working (and at times, living) at Notre Dame.  Nonetheless, I still have frequent moments of newbie-like awe at my great fortune to have the job I do, as it gives me the opportunity to accompany others as they explore their faith, and in so doing help me grow in mine. 

Main Quad // Photo by Matt Cashore

After a career path in Campus Ministry that could at best be called “meandering,” and including more years than not of a very part-time schedule while my children were younger, I have been fortunate to land on the Liturgy team.  Here (mind. blown. again.) I have the distinct privilege of supporting our common prayer all over campus: the residence halls, the Basilica, the Grotto, even the Purcell Pavilion when we turn it into a giant, temporary church a few weekends a year. I hope my ministry plays a small part in helping all our varied communities – students, faculty members, staff and visitors – to share our faith, to practice it, to try and fail and try again to draw closer each day to Jesus Christ.

Over the last three-plus decades I have learned that Notre Dame is exponentially more than its gorgeous campus; it’s more than all the facts and stories, embellished or otherwise, that you learn as a visitor, student or long-time faculty or staff member.  At various times, Notre Dame has moved me, disappointed me, infuriated me, mystified me, and impressed me beyond my wildest imaginings.

Underneath the physical beauty of this place lies a foundation of 175 years of people faithfully seeking to know, love and serve God through a bold belief. We believe that we can find truth in the classroom and in the Basilica; in the lab and at the Grotto; in the Hesburgh and Kresge and Mahaffey libraries and in the chapels of each of our residence halls.

As a student at Notre Dame I somehow knew that I had come to a place deeply saturated with trust in God, a place that truly desired to share that trust with me and each of my fellow students.  If you are reading this as an incoming first-year student, please know that if you are open to beginning or deepening your relationship with Jesus here, it’s perhaps the best gift Notre Dame can give you. 

Freshman first visit to the Grotto // Photo by Peter Ringenberg

Um, how about an education, you might ask (or your parents might want to ask)? Yes, exactly.  The deeper gift of Notre Dame lies in the truth that emerges from the “and.” Your education will be of your mind and your heart, grown in the library and the chapel, in friendships and in service, alone at prayer and joined in shared worship, in sorrow and in joy, when God feels acutely present to you and even when you feel most alone.

While you may think this place is beautiful to look at, especially when you are first learning your way around, pay attention to the ways in which the beauty goes much deeper than that.  You’ll notice the beauty in the people who will become your dearest friends; in the opportunity to bring your joys and sorrows to prayer at the Grotto or in the chapel just a few steps from your room.  You’ll notice it in the questions you’ll ask your classmates and professors and rectors – and the answers will be more complete because we can have the courage to allow faith in God to be a critical part of the conversation.

All these ways I’ve come to know Notre Dame over the years kept popping into my head while asking myself “why I minister.”

You incoming first-years who are reading this? You’re why I minister; you’re why we all do. Hope to see you under the trees on God Quad’s center path.