Language Masses at Notre Dame

Author: Luke Van de Walle

Eva Hoekner

With 1.33 billion Catholics spread across 157 countries worldwide, the Catholic Church transcends cultural and linguistic boundaries and has reached believers around the globe. In an effort to tap into the many rich cultures that Catholicism is practiced in, the CSLC’s Program Manager for Language Initiatives, Eva Hoeckner, in conjunction with multiple language departments at Notre Dame, has worked to bring back and create new foreign language masses at Notre Dame.

Foreign language masses are not new to Notre Dame. In the past at Notre Dame, German, Spanish and French masses have been offered at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Masses rooted in the Hispanic cultural tradition are celebrated every Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in the Basilica throughout the academic school year.

Last year, Hoeckner organized masses in Swahili, Bangala, Arabic, German, and Italian, French and more, with the potential of other languages in the future. Masses are led by priests fluent in the language and  all prayers and songs are n the target language. Worship aids are provided to the congregation and nclude all prayers and songs in both the target language and English, and the priest often provides the main points of his homily in English.

Members on campus who speak the language of these masses are encouraged to volunteer to assist the priest with readings, petitions, ushering, and music, and organizing a social gathering after mass. Students interested in becoming involved should email Eva Hoeckner

Fr. Paschal Babu Sarker CSC, a priest visiting from the University of Notre Dame Bangladesh, has presided over the Bangla masses. Fr. Paschal is excited to begin leading these masses, as he said that it is a great way to be exposed to a familiar liturgy in a new cultural setting.

Father Frank At Catholic Mass In Swahili

Through these language masses, Hoeckner hopes to display how other cultures practice Catholicism, giving students a familiar setting to begin engaging in new cultures. Hoeckner wants to encourage students to attend, saying that “engaging in worship is a very personal experience, and doing so in a different language connects you with a new community on a very personal level. Worship in a new language can bring out a deeper experience, and help connect with more or different people, or people you already know in new ways”. The language masses offer students an opportunity to leave the traditional academic setting in which they study their target language in class and provide them with a concrete application of the language, enhancing their listening and speaking skills, and connecting them with the congregation and the global Catholic community.

Check the CSLC calendar and subscribe to our monthly newsletter to keep informed on all upcoming masses!