Spotlight On: Andrew Polaniecki, Director of Campus Ministry, Holy Cross College

Andrew Polaniecki

Director of Campus Ministry Andrew Polaniecki is marking his ninth year at Holy Cross College, Notre Dame, at a job he believes came about because of providential circumstances. “My spiritual genes and roots are with the Congregation of Holy Cross,” said Andrew, who followed his older brothers to Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, IL. It was the 1990s and the Holy Cross priests at Notre Dame made a big impression.

“There was something to their life of purpose and joy that I thought was worth exploring,” he recalled. Andrew knew he had time to investigate a religious vocation and considered waiting until after college to tackle his calling. He wondered, “What would people think? Wouldn’t a religious formation be viewed as uncool? What fun things would I miss out on in college?” Andrew continued, “There was some sense not to do it, but the reasons seemed superficial.” Ultimately, religious life “was something I kept thinking about and I decided it was something I ought to do, even if a lot of people weren’t.”

Andrew matriculated to Old College, the undergraduate seminary for the United States Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross. The program is open to male undergraduates who want to discern a call to religious life as they pursue a degree at the University of Notre Dame or Holy Cross College. As an Old Collegian, Andrew lived in community, sharing in prayer and Mass while taking classes at Notre Dame. By the end of junior year, he knew his calling wasn’t to the priesthood, and discerned that his gifts and talents would find joy and purpose elsewhere.

Andrew completed his bachelor’s degree at Notre Dame and went on to earn a master’s degree from Loyola University New Orleans. He taught for six years in New Orleans, four of them at Jesuit High School. He married a Notre Dame alumna, Dré, and started a family. By 2009, the couple decided to raise their growing family in South Bend, IN, a community that felt like a forever home from their days as undergraduates and for its many Holy Cross ministries.

The transition from teaching and coaching high school to campus ministry was pretty seamless. “[Campus ministry] is about formation and being an educator in the faith,” Andrew said. The father of five is very grateful for the years he spent in religious formation. “First and foremost, it gave me the understanding of what it means to be a man of prayer,” he said. “My time there provided lifelong lessons on how to be a man of prayer for the rest of my life.” The experience also informs his work providing spiritual guidance and fostering faith and community at Holy Cross College. “It helps me grow in the areas of what I’m trying to give away and provides a sense of how my life needs to be in relationship with the Church, Jesus and God.”