I’m Michael Moss, a rising junior from Shoreview, MN studying Political Science and Philosophy. Besides singing in the Glee Club, I spend most of my time trying to teach God Quad’s squirrels how to paint. It’s my pleasure to tell you about our brief stay in Le Mans, France.
Le Mans was the second French stop of our 2015 European tour, lasting only a single day. If your ND history is getting rusty, I should remind you that it was from Le Mans that Father Sorin journeyed to begin his mission in the United States as a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the organization that oversees Notre Dame to this day. This is a pretty big deal, and is why we were so excited about singing in Le Mans. Well, it was part of why. I’ll get to the rest in the next paragraph.
We were scheduled to sing in la paroisse NotreDame de SainteCroix, the conventual parish of the Congregation. This particular church is home to the shrine of blessed Basil Moreau, who founded the organization years ago. As I mentioned earlier, we were totally jazzed to be visiting such a special site, but we also had a living connection. The current rector of the parish happens to be the recent chaplain of the Glee Club, Fr. John DeRiso! I was not familiar with him (he left ND as I arrived) but the older members were excited to be reunited.
Fr. DeRiso (or Fr. Doritos, as he is often lovingly called) met us at the retreat center where we would spend the night and gave us a walking tour of Le Mans. The city was abuzz with activity, as the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans automobile race was happening two days after our visit. Fr. DeRiso’s tour led us around the old city, which, as he explained, has quite a violent history of being conquered by one group after another. As we walked, he also told us about his work in Le Mans. In addition to serving as rector of the NotreDame de SainteCroix parish, he is engaged in an upstart campus ministry program at a local university. We would later meet some of the students he works with. Needless to say, we’re jealous that they’re still getting to spend time with him, but we’re glad to know that his gift with college students isn’t going to waste. At the end of the tour, we were treated to a delicious (and free!) meal. By this point in the tour, our ATM cards were getting a little worn out, so we were very grateful for the hospitality.
Singing at the parish church was special. While we had already sung at a bounty of beautiful houses of worship, this church was the first to which we all had a direct connection. We were honored to see the tomb of Blessed Basil Moreau. I especially appreciated gaining a sense of the University of Notre Dame’s position within the various missions of the Congregation of Holy Cross. There were a number of stained glass windows in the church, each representing a particular mission. We quickly found the window for Our Lady’s university, featuring the virgin mother looking down upon Main Building and a group of students. How amazing to visit our spiritual ancestor’s abode, and to see our own face in the family pictures.
To our surprise, one of the windows featured the golden dome and Notre Dame students:
Shrine of Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross:
I honestly don’t remember how the concert went. At a certain point performances just blend together. It was probably decent, I suppose. (Editor’s Note: See, we don’t censor these!)
I do, however, remember the food after the concert, provided by some lovely old ladies. I have studied enough French to consider myself proficient and this was my first real chance to converse with des citoyens francaises. My first meek attempt at conversation with the nice old ladies pretty much failed, but eventually Fr. DeRiso got me into a broken discussion about the European Union with a genteel couple. I also got to meet some of the students with whom Father works at the local university. This came in handy because, thanks to my stellar sense of direction, I had no idea how to get back to the retreat center. Fortunately, the couple that I chatted with before volunteered to walk me back and we were able to continue our conversation, soaking in the last few moments of our time in Le Mans.
Michael Moss is…well, you read it at the beginning of the article. He’s based out of beautiful Shoreview, MN for the summer, which I can confirm is beautiful, since his family had me over for dinner tonight! Future Tour Managers: keep in mind that the Moss family cooks extremely well. If you’d like to get in touch with Michael (and no, this is not to invite yourself over to dinner at his home), you can reach him at Michael.F.Moss.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Le Mans is in France. What else is in France? Paris. Read about when we went to paris here.
See more photos of Le Mans in our Flickr Album!