December 16

Staircase in Main Building

Ann Firth, Vice President and chief of Staff to President Fr. Jenkins, invites us to climb the stairs of the main building in prayerful contemplation as she begins her work day.

“For over 30 years, I have had the great privilege of walking these steps while working in this building. They have become not only the path to my workplace, but a place for prayer and reflection amidst the busy-ness of the day… I like the way the stairs guide my prayer because they are a reminder that each step matters, that the spiritual life is not always a race, but a series of small, steady, imperfect movements toward God.”

So this Advent Season, how can each of us find ways to “pray as we can, and keep praying” wherever our steps may take us?



  1. I just love and look forward to hearing the Sacred Places. It has been a joyful addition to my advent journey. Thank you.

  2. I love this one so much! It’s not only reminiscent of the Scala Santa, it’s a reminder that we all can find daily opportunities to pray wherever and whenever we find ourselves. Thank you, Ann.

  3. A wonderful reflection and your reference to Sr Jean made me smile. I was a student in Farley under her watchful eye from 1990-1994

  4. This reflection was such a treasure both in message and symbol. Thank you for this slice of grace this evening, Ann!

  5. Thank you Ann, your reflection adds a whole other level; to memories from years ago and to wherever my steps may take me now.

  6. Thank you, Ann, for a beautiful and inspiring message. Finding ways to connect to God through daily and otherwise ordinary activities; I’m sure we can all find something similar we can do (although, the staircase is amazing, and always has been!)

  7. Ann, a beautiful spiritual sharing. Thank you for everything you have done & accomplished for Notre Dame. I am so happy that there has been strong & intelligent woman leader at the top of the administration. ☘️Patrick ND ‘72

  8. Dear Ms Firth,

    Thank you for your loving and inspiring words. The imagery of climbing the staircase and prayer in our daily routines is a powerful one. Praying as we go and where we are is a very grace-filled and uplifting practice! Peggy Sichol

  9. I am not an ND grad but so much look forward to the Advent season and Sacred Places. We use to live nearby and I had the opportunity to be on campus a few times many years ago. Ann, it is people like you and all the others that bring hope and joy into my life each morning. Thank you Notre Dame and all the contributors!

  10. What a beautiful reflection. As a person who climbs 20 flights of stairs in my exercise program and who practices the 12 steps as part of my spiritual life, I found your message to be particularly meaningful. Thanks so much.

  11. Lovely reflection Ann-thank you for sharing! I used to pray in the car going home after dropping my kids off at school. You reminded us all today that we can pray anywhere:). Merry Christmas!

  12. Thank you, Ann. I am feeling like the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland…as I attempt to go faster I just end in a tangle. I plan to relisten to your meditation often just to benefit from your calming voice and reassuring message. I’ve listened 3 x’s already this morning!
    With love and affection,

  13. Dear Ann,
    As a stair walker, your reflection was meaningful, inspiring and loving.
    Thank you for a beautiful start to my day!

  14. This reflection was practical for pursuing prayer . I like how she reflected on the steps the narrow and wide stair cases and how God is found everywhere. Beautiful reflection that I will not forget and try to incorporate in my day .

  15. This reflection was especially meaningful to me. As a student, returning to Notre Dame to finish college on the GI Bill, my father climbed those steps everyday. With many vets returning to the University, there was a housing shortage. My father’s “dorm room” was a curtained cubicle on the third floor of the Main Building. This reflection leads me to marvel at the many prayers that have certainly been said on those steps! Pray as we can and keep praying – what a wonderful reminder this Advent season.

  16. A beautiful reflection! Thanks so much for sharing your words right from your heart on prayer! You have enriched my day and my Advent journey! Merry Christmas to all at Notre Dame!

  17. The steps…entering and departing a place we treasure…and our lives similarly stepped…upwards…downwards…and sometimes plateaued…honored to have Our Lady of the Golden Dome with us each stride. Merci Beaucoup, Father Edward Frederick Sorin de la Gaulterie, and thank you, Ann Firth.

  18. Thank you, Ann for your spiritually rich, insightful and beautiful message. Thank you to the Alumni Association for these “Special Places” Advent messages. These messages have become a rewarding Advent ritual.

  19. Thank you for this beautiful reflection. My steps into work are also my prayer time and in you sharing have made me realize how precious those steps are. Not just a path into a busy work day but part of my path to God.

  20. Hello, Ann. It’s so nice to see you deliver this message. How true it is! God bless you and your family,

    Gabe Pentz Ryan
    Columbus Indiana

  21. Thank you Anne a beautiful way to think of our Advent journey….each step bring us closer to Christ with prayer

    Peace and God’s Blessings

  22. This was a beautiful reflection. I will focus on making “every step count” in my imperfect journey toward God. Thank you and God bless you.

  23. Thank you Anne. I too climbed those steps in the Main Building when I visited the campus on my 50th reunion a few months ago. Although more difficult at the age of 73 I paused on each landing to reflect on what I saw as I grew closer to the magnificent painting on the domed ceiling reminding me of becoming closer to the almighty. Thank you for your insight on this sacred place.

  24. Thanks, Ann. You represented the class of 1981 well! I use my daily walk around the neighborhood to say the rosary, so I can relate to you praying while climbing the stairs. As a Farley resident, I also loved the reference to Sr. Jean. I don’t think I have climbed up to the 4th floor since my freshman year in 1977 when I had an English class there.

  25. What a powerful reflection, Ann. I will never climb a set of stairs in the same way. I a behind on my Advent prayers, but your meditation knocked it out of the park. Thank you. Happy New Year!

  26. I had a calculus class in this building in fall, 1969. Window to this room looked to the North. I probably bounded up those steps then. This takes me back to many memories.
    This “story” reminded me to “pray” in ALL PLACES and in All times.
    Praying as we can……is a very important aspect of life for me.
    Thank You Alumni Association and Ann.

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