After helping the Fighting Irish football team kick off its season at the beginning of the month, Culver Academies helped 132 Notre Dame “pilgrims” celebrate the 175th anniversary of the founding of the university on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The group is walking The Notre Dame Trail, which is retracing the 320-mile journey Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and seven Holy Cross brothers took from Vincennes, Indiana, to a 524-acre swath of land near the southern bend of the St. Joseph River. The original group of 32 people started the trip on Aug. 13 and another 100 people joined them when they reached Rochester on Monday.
The group arrived on Culver’s campus Tuesday evening after walking 17 miles from Rochester. They conducted mass in the Memorial Chapel and ate dinner at the Orthwein Dining Hall in Woodcraft Camp.
Early Wednesday morning, the pilgrims started walking along the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee, going past the Homestead and the Woodcraft pier before taking a break at the White-DeVries Rowing Center. They then continued through campus until they reached Logansport Gate.
As they passed through the gate, they were greeted by eight mounted Troopers and Equestriennes, who then escorted them north on Academy Road to the parking area across from George T. Wilkins Field. From there they continued their journey until they reached the statue of Chief Menominee south of Plymouth. Dedicated in 1909, the monument was the first in the country to honor a Native American.
Another 165 people will join the walkers as they complete the final three days of the journey. More people will join them for the final day’s walk and the public is invited to join in the final three miles from South Bend’s Howard Park to Notre Dame Saturday morning.
Rev. Sorin came to the Diocese of Vincennes from his native France with a missionary zeal to establish schools and educate young Americans in religion, business, and the needs of daily life. When the bishop offered Sorin land in the diocese’s northernmost frontier, which had been a gift from the Potawatomi, he seized the opportunity to go and establish the school he had long envisioned.
Father Sorin and the Holy Cross brothers made their trek in November, 1842. They stopped beside a snow-covered lake, where they built a log chapel. That log chapel became the foundation for the University of Notre Dame.