The Notre Dame trail, the long walk from Vincennes to South Bend to commemorate the University’s 175th anniversary finished Saturday.
Most of the 32 pilgrims that make up the core group are Notre Dame Alumni who returned to Indiana from across the country to participate in the historic walk.
The 300 miles recreate the walk Father Edward Sorin and his followers took in 1842 to found the University.
JesusisLord Nwadiuko is a member of the Notre Dame class of 2017. He’s the youngest core pilgrim and the walk isn’t the first of its kind he's done.
“A walk bookends both ends of my Notre Dame experience. Before I came to Notre Dame I actually walked with my father. We walked from New York City to Baltimore, like 180 miles. When my dad saw that this was an opportunity, he’s like ‘ohmygosh do this!’ and so I’m actually carrying my book bag that a carried back then with him.”
Nwadiuko said the walk comes between the end of his undergrad work and before he starts his graduate program at Notre Dame. He calls it a great way to collect himself.
For Debbie McGraw Block, a 1977 grad, the journey has been one of miles, and of healing. She lost her husband last year, shortly after bringing him to Notre Dame for the first time.
“We’d been together 39 years and after we came home from a wonderful beautiful fall weekend, he dropped dead at the gym.”
McGraw Block said as soon as she heard about the walk, she wanted to do it. “There was no question in my mind that I would join this journey since last fall. It touched my heart the moment I heard about it and I just had to be part of it.”
Tim Deenihan has been the trail’s blogger. He’s a 1992 graduate who lives and writes in Seattle. He said chronicling the path has made him reflect in ways he wouldn’t normally have done.
“In many ways arriving here yesterday, into South Bend felt like we’d completed the pilgrimage and all that was left was the parade," Deenihan said. "And when I was thinking about what I needed to post for the trail I realized it’s not over yet, don’t get ahead of yourself. That extra mile isn’t extra if it’s what you need to do get there and we’re not there yet.”
The core group of 32 was joined along the way by 250 more walkers. Thousands then showed up to parade the last three miles through South Bend with the pilgrims and the Notre Dame marching band.
The walk was followed at the University by a mass and picnic.