SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Their schedules are busy, but they find time for the religious class anyway.

More than 30 students, many married and in graduate school, participate in a weekly evening institute class at a local LDS Church building less than 15 minutes from campus.

Craig Isenbarger, who oversees the church's institute program at Notre Dame, Indiana University/Purdue University-Fort Wayne, the University of St. Francis, Purdue University and Ivy Tech, said the church is making a great effort to reach out to students in a religiously charged atmosphere.

"There is a growing interest and Notre Dame is a great academic school with very acclaimed graduate programs in several fields," Isenbarger said. "Hopefully, we can provide a good institute experience."

Patrick Mason, now a research professor at Notre Dame, is a BYU graduate and used to teach the LDS institute class. He said South Bend is not the "belly of the beast," but a very religious-friendly environment for all faiths.

"It's a religious school with religious values," Mason said. "The vast majority feel very comfortable here."

Mason said there is a pipeline from BYU to the Notre Dame business school. There is also a small group who attend Irish football games together. There were four Mormons on the football team until one recently left to accept a mission call to Ecuador.

Isenbarger couldn't resist telling about one recent LDS convert who attends Wabash College, a respected private school in Crawfordsville, Ind., about 180 miles southwest of Notre Dame. Before joining the church, Adam Brashich was on the career track to attending divinity school and becoming a minister. Since his conversion, he taught a regular 10-minute segment on Greek words as Isenbarger taught lessons on the Book of Revelation.

"It was really fun. He is a wonderful young man. He has had to rethink a lot of things since getting baptized in January," Isenbarger said.

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