November 27

Greg Weismantel ’62

Walk with 1962 alum Greg Weismantel on a crisp winter night as he stops to say a prayer at the Grotto and receives a beautiful gift.

“Then our leading tenor, Mike Ritschel, began singing ‘Ave Maria.’ It was Dean Pedtke’s arrangement. As they walked closer to campus, the harmony of Mark McShane’s baritones, Jerry Witt’s basses, and Bill Weinsheimer’s tenors melded into the most touching, sacred rendition. Both the sound and the sight took my breath away.”

In this season of Advent, let us each reflect on when we may have encountered a moment of peace so beautiful that it affected our lives forever.



  1. What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing.

    One of the most significant peaceful, holy moments in my life happened during my marriage ceremony at Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa, OK. For what felt like several minutes, it was as if my husband and I were the only people in the cathedral, standing together on the altar, looking into each others’ eyes. I felt God’s overwhelming presence in that memorable moment of peace and contentment.

  2. As a former Rector, I have been at the Grotto on a silent snowy night when students were home for break, and this took me right back. Thank you so much.

  3. I think when one cries hearing a story, you have understood in some small way. Thank you and God has blessed you.

  4. Thank you for sharing –The Gotto is pure magic as the version of Ava Maria in this video. The gift of beauty, grace and peace is the greatest of presents. I will focus my thoughts on striving to seek and receive those three blessings during this advent season. I prayed at the Grotto a long time ago and ask to have one of my children be blessed enough to attend ND (we have no legacy, just loved the school and the camaraderie) and guess what? My oldest will soon be graduating in the Spring of 2023. Blessings to all this Advent season!

  5. Thank you GW. Your reflection sets the tone for Advent. I pray that we all find the grace pause and remember how God has touched our lives. HE does everyday, but more often than not, we don’t notice.

    JR ’66, ’77L

  6. Thank you Greg for sharing your very special moment with Our Lady at the Grotto. It’s a very special place for me as well throughout my undergraduate years at ND. My wife and I were married at the Basilica in ‘73 and prayed together at the Grotto for Mary’s blessing of our marriage. Like most alumni, we return there on every campus visit over the years. You have inspired me to relearn Ave Maria on the piano, my parents favorite hymn and played at both of their funeral Masses. God bless and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  7. That was a beautiful story today of the Sacred Story of Advent.
    I am very thankful to be able to read and prays that Notre Dame sends every morning. One day I will be able to visit the Grotto.
    Have a wonderful Sunday and I will send prays to all of your on the first day of Advent.
    Thank you
    Annette Gaspardo

  8. My favorite song – one of my favorite spots – and my favorite lady – the music only enhances all three!!

  9. The beauty of your story, the gift of music, prayer, friendship and atmosphere create a postcard of Advent hope to all the Notre Dame family. What gift!

  10. Greg, Thanks for sharing your inspirational moment.
    Tom Hogan ‘65. I remember you well. I was a member of your Social Committee during my Freshman Year

  11. Such a beautiful memory to begin our Advent Season…Thank you Mr. Weismantel!!! Wishing you (and all) Peace and J.O.Y. through this holiday season.

  12. Greg, Thanks for sharing your inspirational moment.
    Tom Hogan ‘65. I remember you well. I was s member of your Social Commission during my Freshman Year.

  13. Thank you for the beautiful memory. I too loved the Grotto. My best years were spent as a doctoral student at Notre Dame, mostly in the seventies. And I was able to visit the Grotto frequently.

  14. A beautiful message by Greg which inspired me to stop and think of a moment so precious and inspiring in which I felt the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for sharing.

  15. I couldn’t agree more that song and the act of singing can bring peace and awe. My moment was singing an impromptu song with Drs. Gail Walton and Andrew McShane in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. The last chord rang for multiple seconds followed by a similar pin-drop silence. It still brings tears to my eyes and warms my heart.

  16. Thanks, G.W., your story drew me to the grotto, snow and quiet at ND. Your Glee Club buddies’ singing-to-live-in-joy reminded me of the spontaneity of friends from the Catholic charismatic community at ND, True House, ten years later, singing always and everyone where with ND and SMC as sacred backdrop.

  17. What a beautiful experience shared that made me feel an evening as such at the Grotto. My heart is swelled with love and gratitude. Thank you!

  18. Thank you Greg for this beautiful Advent reflection. You captured the memory of that evening so vividly. With the accompanying photography, I felt the peace and the beauty of what you experienced, and on what I need to reflect on this Advent season and always.

  19. You gave us such a beautiful recounting of a very special moment in time, one of many moments that you most likely shared with close members of your Notre Dame community. And now you have shared it with so many more of us! Thank you for that story.

  20. … A beautifully narrated story of love and friendship woven in holiday spirit that leaves an everlasting imprint on your heart.

  21. Thank you for sharing this beautiful memory. There is no place like the Grotto and the University of Notre Dame. Thankful!

  22. What a touching message from and about these men, several of whom, including Greg, are classmates of mine N D ’62 as well as my hall mates from Stanford and Morrissey. Thanks for the memories, guys, and N D Alumni Association. What a Christmas blessing!
    Jack Regan

  23. Thank you for encouraging me to reflect on moments in my life where Christ was present, especially moments where I didn’t recognize him.

  24. We were at ND for a football game this fall and I chatted with a fellow from opposing team. He had been to the grotto the evening before and was so impressed-there were 60 young people there, by choice, saying the rosary.

  25. This was a very nice story . I felt like I was there listening to the Glee Club.
    Notre Dame is such a magical place.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  26. Nice memories of our fun filled and sometimes solemn moments as Club members singing together to Mary and her son Our Lord.

  27. In this holy season, I remember a truly great Professor from my days at Notre Dame. It wasn’t the elegant O’ Malley, so deified by his admirers. It was the humble Joseph Cornelius Ryan, Professor of English, who lived all of his adult life in the dormitories. When I earned an unprecedented two successive 100 % percent grades from him and became his friend, I felt emboldened to ask him why he had always lived with students. His answer: “Because nobody over twenty is worth knowing”.

  28. Wow!! Thank you for sharing your ND Sacred Moment. The Grotto is like no other place on this Earth, a little slice of Heaven.

  29. Thank you for sharing your memorable a cappella experience as you only listened but captured such holy treasured moments.

  30. Awesome! Only God could have orchestrated that beautiful event in G.W.’s life. Thank you for sharing this beautiful encounter with Our Lady and Dear Lord✝️

  31. Awesome! G.W.’s Beautiful encounter with Our Lady and Dear Lord was very inspirational. Further proof how the Divine is woven into our daily lives. Thank you for sharing this beautiful moment✝️

  32. The lit candles in the grotto , snow, Our Lady looking on and the “Ave Maria”.
    What more could a Domer ask for.

  33. Thank you Mr. Weismantel. Your beautiful story reminds us to look for the Sacramental moments that make-up our lives, all we need to do is silence our hearts and minds. May God bless you and your family.

  34. GW
    I just heard Ave Maria sung at my friend’s funeral a few days ago. Such a beautiful song and I could just imagine the notes filling the Grotto on that long ago winter night. My favorite place on campus.

  35. A beautiful memory and prayer but I wish you would have used the Glee Club/Pedtke arrangement of the Ave Maria as the accompaniment. A very different musical version and truer to the story (and the piece that is still my favorite decades after graduating!).

  36. Thank you Greg for sharing your peaceful moment when all came together for you at The Grotto. Surely there are millions who have knelt at that very spot, who gaze at and meditate to Our Lady in prayer.

  37. So beautiful Greg. I watched your piece over five times and loved it more and more. I found myself singing Ave Maria at the end. I visited the grotto this past summer for the first time when my granddaughter toured Notre Dame. I yearn to go back. I’m praying for my granddaughter’s acceptance next year so she and the entire family can experience the love of Our Lady at the Grotto.
    Thank you again for sharing your sacred moment. I truly felt it as well.

  38. Hi Greg, Living two doors away from you as a frosh in Stanford, I always wondered why you were always singing (especially during my study hours). I finally get it. Thanks for sharing.. Merry Christmas!

  39. This story brought me to tears because I could share your connection with the grotto and could envision what a Holy moment that was. Blessings and thank you for sharing!

  40. GW, that story was quite touching. It reminded me of a similar moment at the Grotto that was nothing short of a miracle.

    It was Saturday, 29 July 2017 and I was driving home after spending the summer at the Institute of Priestly Formation (IPF) on the campus of Creighton University in Omaha, NE, a Jesuit university. It was the first anniversary of my dear father Ronald’s passing, and as I was driving east on I80, I felt the urging of Our Lady to stop at the Grotto and pray a rosary for my dad. Problem was it was getting late in the day—I left Omaha after the 1000 closing Mass and had hotel reservations in eastern Indiana near the Ohio border so I could attend Mass the next day at the parish where one of my close friends from seminary who was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Pittsburgh that year would be celebrating Mass for my father. I had to make it to that stop to get just enough sleep to make the drive to Pittsburgh in time for noon Mass the next day, so I dismissed the idea of stopping at ND. As I continued along, a violent thunderstorm came through outside of Chicago and traffic came to a stop for about 45 minutes or so, making it next to impossible to make my reservation. At just about the same time my friend Father Green called to tell me he would not be celebrating the noon Mass the next day anyway because his pastor was sick and he needed to adjust his schedule, so I was free to be able to adjust my plans as well. Nightfall coming on I called and cancelled my original reservation and was blessed to book the last available room at a hotel in Mishawaka, and at a lower rate no less. Realizing I would be close to campus, I pulled into the bookstore lot around 2055 hours because I really needed to visit the restroom. I have never been able to get a parking space close to the bookstore in the past, but I was able to find the last vacant spot in the front row and I ran into the bookstore and up the steps to the restroom minutes before they closed for the day. Coming out I headed across campus to the Grotto to pray as the Blessed Mother asked. It was cool enough to wear a sweatshirt that night, a much welcomed relief from the oppressive Nebraska heat I endured all summer. I had never been on campus in the summer, only on football weekends, and it was incredibly peaceful and quiet. I first stopped at the Veteran’s Memorial to pray at each of the four sides for the fallen, then continued to the Grotto. There were still more than a few people praying and lighting candles at this time, which was about 2120 or so, but I noticed as I began the third decade of the Joyful Mysteries, the Nativity, that there was no one left in the Grotto but me at that moment. I couldn’t believe I had the Grotto and the BVM all to myself, and I looked up at her statue. I don’t want to be one of those guys, but I swear She smiled at me as I offered that decade for my dad. Maybe it was the sheer joy of being at the place I treasure most in this world in the presence of Jesus’ Mother, our Mother, my Mother, but as I finished that decade and wiped away a few tears, some people came to pray and light candles again. I finished the rosary and headed back to my car to finish my travels for the day. That decade of the rosary in the Grotto is a gift I’ll cherish forever. Since then I had another miraculous Grotto moment just last November, but that is a story for another day.

    Notre Dame our Mother…PRAY FOR US!!
    Nostra Domina Victoriam…ORA PRO NOBIS!!

  41. How beautiful the silence, the peace, and the gentle strains of that most beautiful song must have been. Thank you for sharing sir.

  42. Thank You. Fresh snow covering the grotto at night. Awesomely Peaceful.
    Gazing and contemplation is so appropriate. I am appreciative of traveling through this advent series with each of You. We are entangled for grace and goodness.

  43. Oh that was a wonderful start to the advent reflections . His story gave me chill bumps but also provided the assurance of Gods miracles and Marys intercession in the ordinary .

  44. I look forward to these Advent reflections every year. Day one did not disappoint. Blessings to all as we journey through Advent.

  45. Thank you for your beautiful story. I had a special moment at the Grotto just a few weeks ago. I was visiting my daughter with my sister. We stopped at the Grotto in the evening on a cold night. I lit candles for my father and father-in-law (who was a huge ND fan) then kneeled to pray. It was very quiet and peaceful. Literally just as I said Amen and crossed myself, the bells from the Basilica started ringing. But they were ringing the tune of the school song, Notre Dame Our Mother. I looked up to the dark cloudy sky to see the lights from the bell tower shining and the beautiful song to Mary playing. I think my father-in-law arranged for this magical moment to happen. It was very uplifting!

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