Prayercasts package ND spirituality

Author: John Nagy ’00M.A.

Campus Ministry is good at keeping up with changes in communication technology. Now it is inviting Domers to keep up with the prayer of the Church by visiting

On Ash Wednesday—February 21—Notre Dame spirituality became downloadable from the new website in 20-minute “prayercasts.” The audio-only files, accessible through most computers and MP3 players, include readings, psalms, a homily from a Holy Cross priest and the kind of sacred music many will remember from the 11:45 Sunday Folk Choir Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Folk Choir director Steven Warner ’80M.A., the driving force behind the project, views the prayercasts as a service to work-at-home moms and dads, commuters looking for a short burst of spiritual sustenance, and Catholic school teachers in search of resources for their homeroom students.

Notre Dame has plenty of experience with liturgical broadcasts. The Saturday Vigil Mass at the Basilica has run each week on the Hallmark Channel since 2002, and DIRECTV Channel 103 began weekly broadcasts of the 10 a.m. High Mass in December. The prayercasts are Campus Ministry’s first effort to reach the faithful through the Internet.

“We’re going to start small,” Warner says, describing the weekly installments posted to the site throughout Lent and Easter. His long-term vision includes a cycle of prayercasts for Ordinary Time: Four settings each of morning and evening prayer and one of night prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, the common prayers of praise and petition offered at fixed times of the day by Catholics throughout the world.

Warner and others on the campus ministry team caution potential users not to view the prayercasts as a substitute for the Mass or their immersion in the Catholic community.

“My biggest concern is that this will become an earbud liturgical experience, which won’t serve any good at all,” he says. “But our goal is to light a fuse for some” and bring them back to prayer.

Rather than employing the complete Folk Choir for the music, Warner is taking what he calls a pared-down Prairie Home Companion approach. Warner plays the guitar; his wife, Michele, a vocal instructor at Saint Mary’s College, and Jennifer Cimino, a master’s degree candidate in sacred music, are vocal soloists; and Karen Schneider Kirner, director of the Notre Dame Celebration and Handbell choirs, plays the piano. Other musicians contribute, too, and Warner anticipates plenty of updates and tweaks to the project.

Folk Choir alumna Emmeline Schoen ’03, ’05M.Ed., hosts the prayercasts, and a lineup of Holy Cross priests will deliver homilies composed specifically for the purpose.