Before the Georgia Bulldogs and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish meet between the hedges on Sept. 21, Catholic fans from both teams will come together for a pregame Mass.
“We wanted to do something that was friendly and open,” organizer Tim O’Brien said. “To show that on top of the football rivalry, we just hope there’s a lot of faith, fellowship and fun together.”
The event was created by UGA Catholic Center director Fr. Frank Critch and a committee of UGA Catholic Center alumni. They wanted to do something to repay Notre Dame fans for their hospitality two years ago in South Bend, O’Brien said.
“A lot of it was just good midwestern hospitality and friendliness,” O’Brien said. UGA fans visited the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and the “Touchdown Jesus” mural on the side of the Hesburgh Library.
O’Brien expects a crowd of about 3,000-4,000 at the Mass. In order to get the message out, O’Brien said they have contacted radio stations 680 The Fan and 960 The Ref, the Notre Dame-affiliated news site The Daily Domer and the Catholic newspaper for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, The Georgia Bulletin.
Bishop Joel Konzen from the Archdiocese of Atlanta will preside over the Mass, as well as Critch, Fr. Casey Cole and Notre Dame football team chaplain, the Rev. Mark Thesing.
“[Critch] has been amazing, he’s just rolled out the red carpet,” O’Brien said. “Any request that our committee had he’s said yes to, he’s offered housing to Notre Dame priests that are coming down.”
The Mass will be held on Sept. 21 at 1 p.m. at Clarke Central High School. A cookout with speakers will follow the ceremony. All proceeds from the cookout will benefit the UGA Catholic Center and possibly a Notre Dame outreach mission, O'Brien said in a Sept. 9 email.