Chris Whelan

Chris Whelan

Theology

2013 • Zahm House

Hometown: Westfield, MA

Notre Dame has always been part of Chris’ life. He idolized his dad, class of 1981, who, according to Chris, is the greatest Dad in the world. Chris grew up wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps and that meant attending Notre Dame.

“In my mind Notre Dame stands for truth. I was drawn by the Catholic identity and I have never been able to shake my childhood perceptions of the school. I always thought that what made ND special were its alumni. No matter what, they always seem to do the right thing. Not because it is expected or easy, but simply because it is right. Maybe that’s just my opinion of my dad, but I will never be able to separate Notre Dame from integrity. I came to Notre Dame so that one day I’ll be that type of person.”

Notre Dame is important to Chris for many reasons. His professors taught him to expect greater things from himself. He is part of two great communities, Zahm House and ND Vision. He was introduced to Catholic Social Teaching and given a chance to share his gifts with those less fortunate than him. He has been encouraged to pray and grow closer to Christ. He has learned more than he ever thought possible while living his childhood dream.

Chris was introduced to a very special Zahm House Christmas tradition. “Freshman year, I found out that Zahm always gives a gift to our housekeepers. I was awed by the extent of the gratitude they showed all of us; you could see it in their smiles that they were overjoyed to learn how much they are appreciated. Everyone knows the story of Christ’s birth in the Gospel of Luke, but it’s easy to overlook the radical importance of it. Hearing a professor lecture about the less understood details of the narrative and being a part of my dorm’s expression of love and gratitude helped me draw a connection between the religious aspect of Christmas and the cultural aspects of it. It’s all about God’s love.”

Chris participated in the Summer Service Learning Program sponsored by the Center for Social Concerns. This along with other Notre Dame experiences has changed his worldview. “I am no longer the naïve teenager from the suburbs; my service experiences in the inner city and other poverty stricken locations have opened my eyes to a pain and suffering all too common today. The service programs I have been involved with through the Center for Social concerns changed my life. Instead of living for myself, I now feel a responsibility to live in a way that serves others.”

Chris entered Notre Dame with dreams of fame and riches but he has discerned a call to service. He plans to be a youth minister or teacher after graduation so he can serve young people and share his gifts. Chris’ Notre Dame journey has been one of transformation and “It’s been even better in real life than it was in my dreams.”