I promised to tell you more about the Vita Institute, and this post will be a start. I planned to write everything up as soon as I came home, but as I came down with COVID almost as soon as I returned, I did not have the energy for anything extra.
I’m going to go through the whole experience a day or two at a time in order so I don’t miss anything.
My neighbor (Susan) and I, who were traveling together, left home by Uber at 3:30 a.m. to catch our 5:30 a.m. flight to Atlanta. We had a lengthy layover before our second flight to South Bend, finally arriving around 11:30 a.m. Another Uber (with a delightful and informative fellow from Cambodia) and a short walk (which felt much longer due the enormous suitcase I was dragging) and we found ourselves at our home for the week, Duncan Hall.
Duncan Hall was nicer than the dorms I lived in at Georgetown, but not by much. But since accommodations were free, I am not complaining. I found it fun to spend a week in a dorm, even if I did have to go down the hall to the bathroom!
Susan and I had arrived a early, so we had the day free. Due to a mix up over our meal cards, we had to walk off campus to find nourishment. Afterwards, we parted ways: Susan to spend the afternoon and evening with a local friend, and me to meet up with my middle son and his girlfriend, who were fortuitously attending a wedding at Notre Dame that very day! The three of us spent the afternoon exploring the campus, especially some of the parts that have been added since Theo graduated in 2017.
They had a party to attend in the evening, so I went back off campus to a different restaurant for dinner and then went walking with Susan for a little while before returning to the dorm for really the only evening that I was at all free. I had envisioned having lots of time to read and write but that was not what happened. And over the course of that first day, I walked almost 9 miles!
I started my morning with a visit to the St. Walter’s Chapel, located in our dorm. Notre Dame has a chapel in every residence hall.
Then Teddy and Molly picked me up and took me out to breakfast at a local pancake place. When I returned, Susan and I did a little more walking around campus before the first official event. By the time of the “official” walking tour at 2 p.m., we had already hit the high points and more, so we opted out, and met up with everyone at the McCartan Courtroom in the Eck Hall of Law, where we spent the majority of the rest of the week.
We were there for a Welcome and Participant Forum, which was frankly terrifying. There were about 50 of us not including the staff and the presenters, and we had to go around the room and introduce ourselves and basically justify our presence there. I already hate this kind of thing because I am introverted and shy (no, really, I am!). And the more I heard the credentials of the my incredible classmates, the more embarrassed I was to have to announce that I was just a lowly blogger and not there on behalf of any organization. But it did give me an opportunity to learn a little about everyone and my ears perked up especially at a few of them, like Herb and Gwendolyn, who I knew I wanted to seek out.
The Forum was followed by Mass, and in fact we were able to attend Mass every day thereafter at the beginning of our lunch break. The Thomas More Chapel was just steps away from our meeting place.
The last event of the day was a Welcome Dinner held upstairs in Eck Commons. Throughout the week we were taken care of very well as far as food and drink were concerned. We had an array of sandwiches and an open bar to enjoy as we took the first opportunity to get to know the other participants. As I have said, this kind of socializing does not come easily to me so it was exciting to discover I actually “knew” one of the other participants, Brooke Stanton, who I had interviewed for an article in Celebrate Life Magazine.
If you can believe it, after this we walked around a little more, and I took lots of pictures, but I will leave you with just a few.
All told, I walked close to eight miles that day.
I’ll continue in another post, and begin to share with you everything I learned.