Jason Kelly | November 1, 2017
As he processed toward the altar on the steps of Bond Hall to celebrate the academic year’s opening Mass, Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, ’76, ’78M.A., wore walking shoes under his vestments.
Running shoes, to be more precise, but their purpose on August 26 — like the purpose of August 26 — was to walk. Before Mass that morning, Father Jenkins led about 3,500 people along the final three miles of the Notre Dame Trail from downtown South Bend to campus.
The journey started two weeks earlier in Vincennes, Indiana, where 32 “core pilgrims” — the missing “hard” in front of “core” is implied — took the first steps on the 320-mile trail. Their physical and spiritual mission: to commemorate Father Edward Sorin’s trek across the state to found the university now marking its 175th anniversary.
Among the core 32 was Brother Larry Stewart, CSC, ’60, ’61M.A., an exercise physiologist by training and a man familiar with extreme physical exertion. He’s been across the country twice by bike, celebrating the 40th and 50th anniversaries of taking his vows.
This year marks his 60th. Brother Larry, 80 years old, was inspired in his latest effort by Sister Ruth Marie Nickerson, CSC, former area coordinator for the Sisters of the Holy Cross.
Sister Ruth has hiked Spain's Camino de Santiago and her “one foot in front of the other” messages helped motivate Brother Larry along the Notre Dame Trail.
“Trying to emulate her, doing something vigorous and especially prayerful,” he said. “I didn’t carry the rosary, but I would count the beads on my fingers as I was walking along.”