Notre Dame Trail: A journey of reflection
On Saturday morning, thousands of people walked the final three miles of the Notre Dame Trail along the St. Joseph River and through the campuses of Holy Cross, Saint Mary's and Notre Dame.
The two-week journey celebrates the 175th anniversary of when Father Edward Sorin first arrived at his new home and founded the University of Notre Dame.
Check out this page for all of our special coverage of the final day of the Notre Dame Trail walk, mass and picnic. You can find links to a replay of our complete Facebook Live coverage or scroll down to check out interviews with the people we met and spoke with along the trail, including leaders like South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins and more.
One pilgrim - Haley Scott DeMaria - is a former Notre Dame swimmer who lived through a terrifying bus crash in January 1992 when the team was on its way back from a swim meet. Two of her teammates died. She kept up with us along the trail with her thoughts, experiences and reflections. WHME Sports Director and fill-in WNDU sportscaster Chuck Freeby caught up with her in the final leg.
"I certainly thought about my journey many steps along the way, and how grateful and blessed I am," said DeMaria.
NewsCenter 16's Joshua Short met up with a group of Boy Scouts that earned a special council badge for participating in the Notre Dame Trail from Howard Park to Notre Dame.
"It's a great thing for us as scouts to be able to come up and come from all around Northern Indiana today and walk around this historic site, it feels good to pay back to the society," said Boy Scout Mason Kiel. "I hope that everyone finds some form of meaning through the walk, I hope that they're able to connect with themselves and everyone else here."
Maureen and Terry McFadden take time to remember those who have gone before us that had a big impact on the University of Notre Dame. Of course there's Jeff Jeffers, longtime WNDU sportscaster, who bled blue and gold and would have loved to be a part of the party on a day like this. There’s also the man who is the reason so many are here today, Father Theodore Hesburgh. Father Ted ran the university for 35 years and his leadership and vision still have a huge impact on everyday life in our community. Meantime, Father Don McNeill, the founding director of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, died on Thursday at Holy Cross House. He was 81 years old; a 1958 graduate of Notre Dame and ordained a priest in 1965.
as Fr. Nate Wills reflects with Maureen and Terry.
"He [Fr. Theodore Hesburgh] was someone who brought Notre Dame from a place with just a famous football team to really a world class research university," Fr. Wills said.
Maureen McFadden sits down with Holy Cross Priest Fr. Nate Wills to talk about her Alma Mater, Saint Mary’s College, which owes a large debt of gratitude to Fr. Edward Sorin for its establishment – and Kasey Chronis speaks with Saint Mary’s College President Jan Cervelli.
“Soon after Fr. Moreau established the Congregation of Holy Cross, he dedicated it to the Holy Family; Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” said Fr. Wills. “So it only made sense that when Sorin came here, he would not only have a place dedicated to the education of young men, but also help to establish a place for the education of young women.”
“To celebrate this 175 years with Notre Dame is truly special because, you know, we have such a strong bond that goes back all those 175 years,” said Cervelli.
FUN FACTS: Saint Mary's College was established in 1844. Notre Dame's campus went co-ed under Fr. Theodore Hesburgh in 1972 after an effort to merge Notre Dame and Saint Mary's was halted. Currently, about 47% of Notre Dame students are women.
Chuck Freeby walks the trail with the playwright of ‘Sorin: A Notre Dame Story’, that is currently being rehearsed at the university and getting ready to be unveiled. Christina Gorman and her husband are both Notre Dame graduates and their son is a current Notre Dame sophomore.
“There were many things that Fr. Sorin had to overcome to get this school built and to keep it going and what I loved most about Fr. Sorin is that he did not believe in the word ‘no'," said Gorman. "He never took ‘no’ for an answer. ‘No’ meant find another way to get it done.”
The play will debut this Wednesday at 6:42 p.m. at the Patricia George Decio Theatre in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. It is free and open to the public. For details about other dates and times,
. FUN FACT: Fr. Edward Sorin was 28 years old when he made this 300+ mile journey back in 1842.
Christine Golic is a graduate of Saint Mary's College. On her first day of freshman year, Christine met her future husband Notre Dame alum Mike Golic. Mike is a popular sports radio personality and former NFL defensive lineman. All three of their kids, Mike, Jake, and Sydney have now also graduated from Notre Dame. Mike and Jake played football Sydney was a swimmer. Our own Angelo Di Carlo caught up with them on the trail,
. FUN FACT: The University of Notre Dame was chartered by the Indiana legislature on January 15, 1844.
“The best thing about Notre Dame is family, is tradition— and that’s our family," said Mike Golic. "We all love one another and it’s all embodied here at Notre Dame. This place will be our home forever, for us, for our kids. We will nerve not be a part of Notre Dame.”
“I’m not going to lie, I’m tired and I’m sore, but I’m invigorated by what’s going on here today," Christine Golic said. "It’s been a special day for Notre Dame and I’ve been so happy to be a part of it.”
Fr. John Jenkins walks with WHME Sports Director and fill-in WNDU sportscaster Chuck Freeby on the trail from Howard Park to Notre Dame. He was also there as the 32 core pilgrims began their journey from Vincennes.
. The 17th president of Notre Dame spoke about the time of reflection the walk has given him and others.
"I think what has connected us to the original vision of Fr. Sorin — that sense of purpose that sense of commitment to education to faith, to spirituality, just the ways that we live that our today." said Fr. Jenkins.
Notre Dame's 17th president, Rev. John Jenkins, spoke to the Notre Dame Trail crowd. He said the beautiful thing about this trail is 'we're all walking together'.
"Every day began with a prayer and every day ended with prayer at Mass," Fr. Jenkins said. "So it wasn't just a physical challenge it really was a spiritual journey... a kind of reflection on our life together, our journey together, our walk together, and what it means."
The chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, John Warren, addressed Notre Dame Trail walkers before they stepped off on Saturday morning. He also gave a special blessing both in their native language and then in English.
“As I sit next to this river, and I think of South Bend, and all of the events that have happened, it’s just remarkable that we’re still here," Warren said. "And I'm very happy.”
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg spoke to the Notre Dame Trail crowd about the university's legacy and its impact on the city of South Bend.
"While there are many places that can claim an extraordinary amount of talent, especially among America's finest universities, what makes this place so special is that this is where talent meets purpose," Buttigieg said. "And I know that all of us walk with a renewed sense of purpose as we make our way up that hill in the memory of Fr. Sorin and those that had the extraordinary vision to make this place what it is; and in the shadow of the Golden Dome."
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish Marching Band performs as folks gather to walk the last 3 miles of the trail.
to hear them play!
As many as 2,000 Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and their families as well as 250 members of the Notre Dame Marching Band are each playing a special part in the final 3 miles of the Notre Dame Trail Saturday. The boy scouts from the Lasalle Council will receive a special council patch for completing the trek, which features the Golden Dome and Fr. Sorin’s log cabin. This is the first time the university has licensed the Dome to be used in this way. The band will help kick off the final festivities by playing the fight song and they will walk the trail as well.
As the pilgrims get ready to begin their final 3 mile trek from Howard Park to Notre Dame Saturday, our crews are stationed across the area, taking a look back at the more than 300 miles they've already walked and the celebrations planned for the day.
. They started the walk on August 13 in Vincennes, following Fr. Edward Sorin's journey that he took 175 years ago. FUN FACT: The weather Saturday is much more pleasant than Fr. Sorin and the seven Holy Cross brothers had in November 1842, when it was bitterly cold and snowy!
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Our anchors and reporters are preparing for the thousands of people who are expected to walk the final 3 miles of the Notre Dame Trail. They'll leave Howard Park beginning at around 8:30 a.m. Watch live now on WNDU-TV or in our livestream. Follow us on Facebook at
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showing our crew as they prepare at Howard Park. Thousands of people are expected to walk the final leg of the Notre Dame Trail beginning at 8:30 a.m.
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