Notre Dame fans reach out to the needy

Greer Hannan, from left, Emily Hunn and Josh Hunn, members of the Notre Dame Club of Greater Louisville, served lunch to homeless individuals at the Cathedral of the Assumption’s Sandefur Dining Room Sept. 1. This was one of the service projects organized by the club to celebrate the Fighting Irish’s first visit to Louisville. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
In honor of the Fighting Irish’s first football game in Louisville, members of the Notre Dame Club of Greater Louisville drew on their faith to create a fun Labor Day weekend, where service to the needy was at the center.

Notre Dame defeated the University of Louisville 35-17 Sept. 2 at U of L Cardinal Stadium on Floyd Street.

A day before the game, donning their blue, gold and Irish green, members of the local alumni club served lunch to homeless individuals at the Cathedral of the Assumption’s Sandefur Dining Room before gathering with local and out-of-town fans for Mass in a packed Cathedral in downtown Louisville.

Father Ronald Domhoff, a graduate of Notre Dame University’s class of 1974, celebrated the liturgy. He began his homily by asking the 900-plus members of the congregation how many had bought a home or business property? A few raised their hands. Then he asked how many had bought tickets to a football game, and almost every hand in the cathedral rose in response.

Like buying real estate, buying football tickets is all about “location, location, location,” said Father Domhoff. “Where are we going to sit? Where’s our place? You want to have the best seat around. It’s all about the place.”

Faith, said Father Domhoff, is all about “location” as well. “Where do we stand? Are we someone who has a good view of God and does he have a good view of us?”

Father Domhoff, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville, refered to the day’s Gospel from Luke, where Jesus dines at the home of a leading Pharisee. Those who were present watched Jesus closely to see where he would sit, said Father Domhoff.

Notre Dame football fans, including Kathy Laboe, far right, and her children Ellie Laboe, center, and Jacob Laboe, participated in a Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville Sept. 1 a day ahead of the football game against the University of Louisville. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

The passage poses a question today, said Father Domhoff: “Who do I sit with?”

“That’s the key,” he said. It’s important to spend more time thinking of who we sit with than where we’re going to sit, he said.

“Christ tells us very clearly we all need to be at the table, we all have a right to be at the table,” he said. It’s important that all people be invited “whether they are poor, whether they are crippled, whether they are lame, whether they are immigrants, whether they are marginalized, whether they are addicts. We must not exclude anyone from our table.”

Father Domhoff encouraged the congregation to consider, “Who do I allow to sit with me? Who do I feel comfortable when they sit with me?”

About 15 Notre Dame fans apparently chose their company by the Gospel’s standard on Sunday. They spent the morning serving lunch to homeless and hungry people at the Cathedral.

Greer Hannan, a member of the Notre Dame Club of Greater Louisville, said she wanted to share a happy event with members of the community who are in need.

“Service is at the heart of what Notre Dame (University) is about so when our team was coming to town we wanted to share a tailgate with Louisville community members who are in need,” said Hannan. “Catholic social teaching was a big part of our education at Notre Dame, so it’s neat that alumni keep living that out decades down the road.”

Josh Hunn, another member of the club who helped serve lunch along with his wife, Emily Hunn, agreed. Hunn said he believes it’s important to be “good members of the community.”

“There’s more to life and more to Notre Dame than sports. There’s a call to live out your faith. We’re here supporting our team, but doing something good for the community. It’s a good way to live out that call,” said Hunn.

Following Mass, fans headed to Fourth Street Live! where they assembled “welcome home kits” for needy families served by the Family Scholar House — a local non-profit that benefits families and young people. Some fans also donated close to $700 which will be used to purchase items for more “welcome home kits,” said Beth Thomas, president of the Notre Dame Club of Greater Louisville. Those kits will be handed out during an event in the Spring, she said.

The weekend also included a “Bluegrass and Gold Irish Fest” at the Kentucky Derby Museum Sept. 2.

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