My Spiritual Home

Kyle Palmer
Class of 2016
Lehi, Utah
ND Loyal volunteer since 2017

I truly loved Easter at Notre Dame. When I was a student I elected to stay on campus for every Easter break and encouraged others to do the same at least once during their time as students. This year, as an early Mother’s Day present, I was going to take my Mom to Notre Dame to experience the Holy Week on campus. Of course, the best laid plans often go awry, as was the case given the COVID-19 pandemic. My plans, flights and all, had been dashed. Disappointment and sadness hit most when we entered into Holy Week. As I began to contemplate why, the answer was clear: Notre Dame was the place where my faith had matured and losing the opportunity to visit what had become my spiritual home left me melancholy.

I grew up (and currently live and work) in Utah. In most states Catholics are the largest single religious affiliation, but the religious makeup here is vastly different than the rest of the country. I grew up in a devoutly Catholic household, but the feeling of being an outsider was apparent from the social pressures that existed in school, sports, and other activities. It seemed like I was missing out on cultural references and even regular activities with my friends because they were religion-based. I felt as though I had to choose: convert to the predominant religion to fit in, renounce religiosity altogether in frustration, or soldier on and hold to my beliefs. I had many friends choose between the first two options, but very few who chose the third option. Ultimately, I was able to gain social acceptance and was even valued for my different religious perspective, serving in student government and the like. Still, something was missing. I was left without a community of faith among my peers – until I got to Notre Dame.

Finally, I found a home to grow in my faith – a place where I could be comfortable discussing it with others and allow it to develop and mature. I cherish knowing my faith much better now than I might have if had I attended college anywhere else. It was no wonder, then, that I felt so sad when I could not return to my spiritual home for Easter! While not everyone who attended Notre Dame is Catholic, I do believe we can all say Notre Dame had an impact on our adult religious life, whatever that might have been.

This is one of the reasons I love Notre Dame. It’s one of the reasons I joined ND Loyal and renew my Sorin Society membership every year. I can’t help but support the place where I found my closest friends, prepared myself for professional life, and became grounded in my faith. It was thanks to the generosity of alumni that I was able to receive scholarships and attend the institution we all know and love. I feel committed to giving back to the Notre Dame family, because I gained so much from my time there.

All great accomplishments are the culmination of many small efforts. Our calling as ND Loyal volunteers is to make those small efforts matter. There are times throughout the year when my volunteerism is less active, and ultimately, that’s okay. The key is to remember why we love Notre Dame, and let this drive our efforts. Sometimes I have to remind myself not to let temporary dormancy turn into extinction and reawaken myself to the task which I have accepted. While reaching out to classmates and asking them to donate can sometimes be awkward, I find more often than not that they do want to give – they just need a gentle reminder from an old friend why it matters to give back to the place where that friendship was forged. ND Loyal commits itself to three pillars: building community, inspiring action, and serving students. I try to keep these at the heart of my efforts, always reminding myself that my request for a donation shouldn’t be the only time these friends hear from me. It is out of our friendships that we are enabled to make these requests, so it is incumbent upon us to cultivate our relationships throughout the rest of the year.

Notre Dame is my spiritual home, and it is a home to each of us for a different reasons. For me, being part of the ND Loyal community, inspiring friends and fellow alumni to action, and above all serving the next generation of students helps me remember the reasons I call Notre Dame “home.”

Forever in Notre Dame, our Mother,
Kyle Palmer