“Who am I?” “How will my gifts change the world?”
For the past 20 years, the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College and Holy Cross College students of different majors and walks of life have given their summers to empower high school students to ask these and other big questions during one-week summer conferences on Notre Dame’s campus.
Started in 2001 with a $2 million grant from the Lilly Foundation to “theologically explore vocation,” Notre Dame Vision is an expression of the robust faith life of the University, living out Notre Dame’s mission to be a force for good.
“Vision is animated by a fundamental truth. God not only calls us to this mission, but capacitates us to respond. But the complexities and challenges of this day and age are making it hard for young people to remember and embrace this fact. We wish to empower young people to rediscover this and commit to being witnesses in the world,” said Megan Shepherd, program director of Notre Dame Vision.
To this end, the college students, called “mentors in faith,” take a class through Notre Dame’s Department of Theology and receive intellectual, pastoral and communal formation in the semester preceding the summer.
“This formation plants seeds for a new kind of imagination to grow the minds of our college students, that faith is not something abstract, but a concrete reality that redefines how we live and orient our lives,” Craig Gould, associate director of Notre Dame Vision, said.
Armed with this training, the college students bring these conferences to life in the summers for the high school participants. The mentors lead small groups, share witness talks and serve as resident assistants in the residence halls. They act as guides as the high school students experience life on campus, live in the residence halls, eat in the dining halls and pray in some of Notre Dame’s famous sacred spaces.
Since 2007, Vision has hosted campus and youth ministers for separate conferences focused on their spiritual, personal and professional renewal. Many of these ministers, such as Elliott Gualtiere, dean of mission and ministry at Fairfield Prep in Connecticut, have brought students.
“Not only has this program positively impacted our students’ lives, but our larger community as well,” Gualtiere said. “Because of their experience at Vision, our students have embraced Christ’s call to be leaders in faith. Vision empowers them to make commitments that translate his love into action.”
After 20 years of in-person programming, Vision recently celebrated a big milestone — it received its 20,000th registration.
Scott Boyle, director of outreach for Vision, is a former college mentor and one of more than 1,250 college students who have served the program over the past 20 years. He said, “It’s truly humbling to be a part of a program with this kind of impact. As a former mentor myself, Vision empowered me to re-engage my faith and see possibilities for my life I could never have imagined. I can’t wait to see the impact Vision will have on our next 20,000 students.”
Notre Dame Vision Summer Conferences are still accepting high school student registrations for the 2023 conferences. Visit mcgrath.nd.edu/vision to register and learn more about their work and mission.
Originally published by mcgrath.nd.edu on May 2.at