Notre Dame in Miami: Celebrating and serving

Author: Dennis Brown

Notre Dame Mass Mass at the Intercontinental Hotel, Miami

MIAMI — Notre Dame off-the-field news and notes on BCS National Championship Game weekend, culminating Monday night when the Irish take on Alabama at Sun Life Stadium:

• On the Feast of the Epiphany, Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., was the celebrant at a Mass on Sunday morning (Jan. 6) in the Grand Ballroom of the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami. An overflow crowd of approximately 3,500 people attended.

In his homily, Father Jenkins alluded to his days as a professor of philosophy and teaching on “Confessions,” in which St. Augustine wrote of his life’s journey and the earthly success but spiritual emptiness he experienced prior to converting to Christianity.

Father Jenkins said that St. Augustine’s journey was not unlike that of the three wise men in the day’s gospel reading. They, too, traveled a path through a “strange land” and over “tough terrain” but were guided by a star. And, he said, all people have a similar journey through life, experiencing “frustrations, wrong turns, false starts and unexpected delays.”

Miami Mass Father Jenkins presides over Mass in Miami

“The important thing,” he said, “isn’t that we make wrong turns, but that we keep our eyes on the star of faith. That led the wise men — and will lead us — to find Christ.”

Father Jenkins began the Mass on a light note. Looking out over the standing-room-only crowd, he said that the outcome of Monday night’s game could go either way, but “nobody beats us at pre-game Masses.”

• Another Mass for 1,400 Notre Dame fans was celebrated by Rev. Paul Kollman, C.S.C., at the Bonaventure Resort.

• About 200 Notre Dame volunteers and another 100 from Alabama joined forces Sunday afternoon to help develop part of the Overtown neighborhood west of downtown Miami. In partnership with Roots in the City, an organization based in Overtown that aims to promote community development and beautification in inner-city areas, the Irish and ’Bama contingents built an urban garden, transforming a vacant city lot into rows of raised garden beds. The volunteers, wearing T-shirts that read “Building Champions Through Service” on the back, placed hundreds of concrete blocks in long rows, painted them blue and gold and crimson and white, hauled and shoveled dirt into the beds, and began planting flowers. Produce will be planted later, and then cultivated and sold to raise funds for the residents of the area and to donate to homeless centers.

Wearing one of the project T-shirts and a pair of blue jeans, Father Jenkins stopped by the project to encourage participants and speak to the assembly. “Whatever happens on Monday night (in the national championship game), this work today is a victory for us all,” he said.

In thanking the volunteers, Marvin Dunn, executive director of Roots in the City, joked: “We haven’t had this many white folks in Overtown since the Klan came through here in 1936 — and that was a short visit!” On a serious note, he added: "We’ve never had this many people out here at one time (to work on a project).”

Father Jenkins at service project Father Jenkins visits service project

Paul Ahr, a 1966 Notre Dame graduate and president and chief executive officer of Camillus House in Miami, also offered brief remarks. Founded in 1960 by the Brothers of the Good Shepherd, Camillus House provides humanitarian services to the indigent and homeless populations of Miami.

Father Kollman, director of the Center for Social Concerns, and Lionel Jensen, associate professor of East Asian languages and cultures, were among the volunteers.

Scott Malpass, vice president and chief investment officer, will appear live from Miami on the CNBC program “Squawk Box” on Monday morning.

• The Notre Dame cheerleaders, who also visited the community service site, will appear live at 8:30 a.m. Monday on “Good Morning America.”

• The popular musicians Dierks Bentley and Flo Rida performed Sunday evening as a part of the BCS Fan Experience on South Beach.

• A young man with “Need Tickets” signs taped to the front and back of his shirt has been stationed at the Intercontinental day and night since Friday. He said he’s been able to secure one ticket and will continue to politely loiter in the lobby, hoping that someone will admire his perseverance and offer him one more.

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Originally published by Dennis Brown at on January 07, 2013.