An altar dedication incorporating sacred chrism, chant, incense, holy water and special prayers into a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades accomplished what might be called a spiritual makeover at a location on Notre Dame Avenue Feb. 23.
The rite, held in the Oratory of Holy Mary, Seat of Wisdom, inside Windmoor Study Center, involved the solemn spreading of chrism over the surface of the chapel’s large stone altar.
The visit for formal dedication also gave the bishop the opportunity to tour and bless the variety of spaces in the location that has served college men near the University of Notre Dame campus since 1960.
Windmoor Study Center is operated by Opus Dei, a personal prelature of the Catholic Church. It hosts male residents including university students, professionals and a chaplain, who join together for daily Mass, meals, conversations and prayer. The center also invites student use of substantial study space and casual rooms with a friendly atmosphere for various lectures, film series and formational activities. These include one-on-one professional mentoring provided by members of Opus Dei who live in the home.
Undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate a sincere desire to participate in a lifestyle of spiritual growth, regardless of their faith background or interest in the prelature, can apply to be part of the residence.
In his homily, Bishop Rhoades noted that the stone structure being given the high status of “altar” will be the centerpiece where Jesus Christ becomes present in His Body and Blood in the sacrifice of the Mass, then to be reserved in the golden tabernacle.
“I encourage you to come to this oratory often for prayer, even if it is just a short visit to the Blessed Sacrament,” he said to the residents and others who were gathered. He cited the instruction from the founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaria Escrivá: “Go perseveringly to the tabernacle, either bodily or in your heart, so as to feel safe and calm, but also in order to feel loved … and to love.”
Bishop Rhoades, who said he has benefited from the spiritual writings of St. Josemaria Escrivá, visited Windmoor in 2010 to celebrate its 50th anniversary. That building was replaced by a larger home in 2018.
This semester, Windmoor hosts 15 residents, including nine full-time students whose fields of study range from engineering to political science. The residence is operated by celibate “numerary” members of Opus Dei.
Nonmembers seeking to live at Windmoor have been attracted to its Christian family environment and lifestyle, said Craig Iffland, a numerary who serves as director of the study center. Now in his eighth year there and a candidate for a Ph.D. degree in moral theology, he said resources for formation in Opus Dei spirituality are available to the residents, although membership is not a prerequisite for living in the home.
“Through the family life of the center, we’re trying to help these young men grow in the virtues they would need to be the father of a Christian family,” Iffland said.
One of the other numeraries in residence, Michael Seelinger, Ph.D., is a former director of Windmoor and a faculty member at the Notre Dame College of Engineering. He said members of the prelature pursue a wide range of service to the Church and God’s people, enhancing personal virtue and parish life. Personally, he has appreciated the encouragement of deeper friendships and the goal of more faithful use of one’s talents.
Opus Dei has about 85,000 members worldwide, Seelinger said, and is organized into regions. He estimated the prelature has 50 study centers in the United States, half for men and half for women. Windmoor currently is the only men’s study center that serves as a residence for full-time students. The residence role is more common in countries where colleges don’t combine enrollment with dorm assignments.
The Southold Center for Education is Opus Dei’s study center for women in South Bend, providing resources for human virtue and spiritual values for college and professional women.
Father Oscar Regojo, who was a medical doctor before he discerned his priestly vocation to Opus Dei, is the chaplain at Windmoor, Iffland said. Father Regojo celebrates Mass and offers the sacrament of reconciliation. He also conducts spiritual direction and formation as requested and assists pastorally at the Southold Center.
The vicar for Opus Dei in the U.S. Midwest is Father Javier del Castillo. Both priests were present Feb. 23 with Bishop Rhoades.
Father del Castillo thanked the bishop for consecrating the new altar and blessing the oratory. “We will take care of Our Lord, and we will not leave Him lonely,” he said, noting the prelature’s and diocese’s shared purpose “to build up the Church for the future generations.”
Bishop Rhoades, in remarks near the end of Mass, said that “to have Opus Dei present in our diocese is really a gift.” Addressing the student residents, he urged a spirit of charity that is built up by the Eucharist.
“You’re called to live as brothers in Christ and to be an example of Christian love and fraternity at Notre Dame and in our diocese.”
More broadly, he noted the “time of purification” now going on among Catholics internationally. He expressed hope for “the only long-term answer to the challenges we face,” calling for “a renewal of holiness in the Church and therefore in the world.”
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