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Popular theology course The Heart’s Desire and Social Change to serve as basis for new podcast and ThinkND series exploring life’s meaning and mission

Author: Lauren Fox

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How does one find meaning and a mission in our restless world? How can we make decisions that help ourselves and others? How do we find the path that leads us to discover the deepest desires of our hearts and aspirations to make the world a better place?

“The Heart’s Desire and Social Change,” a new podcast series and online community produced at the University of Notre Dame, helps us explore these issues and navigate these big questions in our lives.


Rev. Dan Groody, C.S.C., vice president and associate provost at Notre Dame, will host the program, which is based on the popular theology course of the same name that he teaches to undergraduates and students in the Inspired Leadership Initiative, which sponsors the podcast.

“I started the class about seven years ago after students kept asking me for help on questions about their purpose, values and vocation,” Father Groody, who is also an associate professor of theology and global affairs, said. “The students were hungry for something more from their lives than conventional notions of success, but they did not know where to start. So I began working with students to help them in their quest to discover their heart’s desire and to make a lasting impact on the world.”

Dolly Duffy, executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association, said, “We hear so often from alumni about their desire to return to campus — to their residence hall, the dining hall, or the classroom. Father Groody’s class is one that transcends age. Whether you’re 18 or 98 or anywhere in between, this course can help you ask — and hopefully answer — those big life questions about a deeper calling and direction.”

Throughout the series, Father Groody will be joined in conversation with Richard Leider, a bestselling author and practitioner of purposeful living and working as well as a public fellow in the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. Together they will guide the audience through a three-stage cycle of human development: self-awareness, self-development and ultimately self-gift. In addition, the series is structured around “integrations,” which are actionable challenges to incorporate the content into your everyday life. The integrations are based on time-tested spiritual and psychological practices that correspond to the topic of each episode.

“I can honestly say that The Heart’s Desire was by far the most influential class that I’ve taken at Notre Dame, as it has permanently altered the way that I approach many aspects of life,” said Catherine O’Leary, class of ’21. “As COVID-19 dramatically altered my senior year this past fall, the course gave me practical tools and methods to home in on the most important aspects of human life such as prayer life, gratitude and community.” 

In partnership with the Notre Dame Alumni Association’s ThinkND platform, Father Groody will also be hosting a series of online events and discussions featuring Sara Martinez Tucker, the former chairman of the University of Texas System Board of Regents and current member of the Notre Dame’s Board of Fellows and Board of Trustees; Lou Nanni, vice president for University relations at Notre Dame; and Parker Palmer, a writer, speaker, activist, and founder and senior partner emeritus of the Center For Courage and Renewal. Through these conversations, Father Groody will explore how their inner lives inform their outer work for social change.

“I started this initiative to create meaningful conversations about the things that matter most to people: their purpose, identity and direction in life,” Father Groody said. “Ultimately, we want to help people grow in authenticity, integration and mission. To put it another way, we want to help people to live as their true selves, to implement joyful practices that lead to genuine freedom and wholeness, and to contribute to the common good and the building of a more just and humane world.”

The live events will be held at 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays beginning April 14, and new podcast episodes will be shared every Thursday beginning April 15. To join this new digital series, sign up here.

Originally published by Lauren Fox at news.nd.edu on April 01, 2021.