Grotto Prayer Program strengthens Notre Dame community's faith

NOW: Grotto Prayer Program strengthens Notre Dame community’s faith

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Kneeled before the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Annie Enval reads out loud dozens of prayers. 

“Please pray for my friend Mario,” said Enval.

With each request, insight into the life of the person who submitted it is revealed. 

“For Angie and Katherine’s medical problems,” said Enval. 

As one of the most sacred places on the University of Notre Dame’s campus, the Grotto offers quiet reflection and prayer to thousands of students, faculty, and visitors every year. 

But for those who can’t make it to campus yet need the Grotto’s peacefulness, the Notre Dame Alumni Association’s Grotto Prayer Program comes in handy. 

“[It’s] a chance for them to maybe get out things that are in their heart,” said Enval. 

Enval is the director of the Grotto Prayer Program. It’s her first year in charge, but the project started 12 years ago. 

“It’s a great way for people who are not physically able to come to campus to still feel connected to that very sacred space that has meant a lot,” said Enval. 

Notre Dame alumni, family, and friends can submit a prayer request for themselves or others. 

Enval or one of her seven volunteers reply to it personally then offer it at the grotto. 

“In the act of reading the prayer, you perform the prayer and then to know that another member of the Notre Dame family will be taking those to the Grotto is a really special feeling,” said Enval. 

Her team receives about 1,000 requests each month. 

About a dozen of those have come from alumna Christina Roncal over the years. 

“The Grotto is such a special place,” said Roncal. “It it was a place I could go to to find peace and to find God.” 

Roncal says the program helps her feel connected to the university even when she is living more than 1,000 miles away in Dallas. 

“It elevates that prayer and brings within an extra level of love and support but also the memory of how God has been faithful in our lives in the past and that God will be faithful again,” said Roncal. 

Dolly Duffy, the executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association, suggests that’s the point of it all.

“They know that we are doing everything we can to support them and take their prayers to the grotto and to pray for them,” said Duffy. “The belief that we’re all in this together, we’re going to take care of each other, can be incredibly powerful.”

To submit a prayer request, click here.

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