Nichole D’Onofrio Brings Long-Held Tradition to WTS

Master of Divinity student Nichole D’Onofrio began in the Fall of 2019 as a distance learner in southern California. She had roots in Iowa and fell in love with the community at WTS and decided to move to Dubuque with her family to become a residential learner beginning with the spring semester. With her, she brought a decades-long tradition from her congregation in Ventura, CA which made for a beautiful Easter surprise on campus – made even more joyful during this unprecedented season of quarantine.


I went to Faith Lutheran in Marion, IA when I was a kid. The church used to put crosses in the yards of every member on the Saturday night before Easter. Members would bring the crosses back to be reused each year, and we loved it!

When we moved to California, my family and I decided to bring this tradition with us to our new congregation (Trinity Lutheran in Ventura, CA). My family and small group from Confirmation Class began “Project X” as a service project when I was in 8th grade. That Easter we placed around 100 crosses in people yards family, friends and congregation members in two cars and until about 2:00am. The tradition has continued in that congregation for the last 20ish years.

My husband, kids, and I moved to Dubuque in January as I began my second semester in seminary (we fell in love with the community so I made the transition from Distance Learning to Residential!). With our first Easter away from our California congregation and now in lockdown, I was feeling down about Easter this year.

I woke up the week before Holy Week wanting to continue the tradition here, so we made crosses for each house on campus and one to put up by the Residence Hall to spread the good news of the resurrection on Easter!