Letters to the editor


Author: Readers

Editor’s note: The letters that appeared in the autumn 2012 issue are marked with double asterisks.

Standing here

**“Where do you stand?” is a marvel of philosophical insight, and appreciation and love of Notre Dame. Father Jenkins should read it and try his hardest to adopt the knowledge and attitudes it promotes. Perhaps then he would see the error of granting an honorary degree to President Obama, or the error of not paying attention to the “Health Regulation” that was nothing more than an attack on Catholicism, the Constitution and freedom of religion.

John L. Rafuse ’62M.A., ’72Ph.D.
Alexandria, Virginia

**“Where do you stand?” was excellent, not for what the writer tries to say but rather for what it points out about the fundamental weaknesses of modern Roman Catholic higher education. During my days studying philosophy and theology at Notre Dame, I came to realize the contradiction in what John O’Callaghan says about “pursuing truth” and what happens in the name of “truth” at Notre Dame, at least since the “re-Romanization” of the University that began in the 1980s.

Yes, nearly everyone, believer and nonbeliever alike, will agree that the task of any university is to pursue truth wherever it may lead, and that “Catholic” and “university” are both terms whose meanings can lead us to the pursuit of truth, wherever that pursuit might lead. Unfortunately, Notre Dame and most modern Roman Catholic universities do not take those terms seriously (nor does the Roman Church when it comes to “catholic”). It is this failure that leaves us standing anywhere but in the pursuit of truth at Notre Dame, and it is in this that Notre Dame fails and will continue to fail to be a true — let alone great — university.

Jerry Pare ’83M.A.
Roseville, California

Dr. O’Callaghan’s essay “Where do you stand?” is terrific, and greatly appreciated. My wife and I first visited Notre Dame 12 years ago, and we knew instantly that we were standing on holy ground.

Gary Gruneisen
Via email

John Callaghan’s opening page “Where do you stand” is quite right. From another corner of the vineyard: “God has not finished with us but given us time. . . . He [sic]allows us our time in order that . . . He may always have His time for us, revelation time.”_Church Dogmatics II/1 page 62.

Joe Bassett ’78M.A.
Via email

I very much enjoyed John O’Callaghan’s piece this issue. His article is both welcoming and challenging, giving Notre Dame a reason to celebrate what it is and strive for what it may yet become. Thank you for printing such wonderful pieces!

Jon Butaci ’09
Via email

I was extremely impressed and pleased to read the article, “Where Do You Stand,” by John O’Callagahn. What a beautiful description of Notre Dame’s layout. Thank you for publishing this article!

Mary Forr ’11
Via email

I wished to thank you all for including the article by Dr. John O’Callaghan (“Where do you stand?” Summer 2012, pp. 7-9). My fiance and I both found the article inspiring and quite well written and would love to see more like it in the future.

Thank you for your time and the brilliant article!

Jason Runkle ’12 and Serene Cuenco ’12

Suspecting that the Summer 2012 football feature is a weak reaction to criticisms of immediately earlier issues but not wishing to play, I address your take-off on the great Saul Steinberg cover executed for the New Yorker.

Do you understand he addressed parochialism of Gothamites of an era ? Do you suggest that UND campus folk are parochial? I hadn’t realized devolution had proceeded so far but, I guess, must take your word for it.

Jack Maher ’51
Via email

Then again . . .

**I have been reading books and articles in recent months trying to understand why our elected officials can’t seem to get anything done, especially when so many challenges need to be addressed. Father Jenkins’ address, “The Danger of Our Convictions,” has been the most effective clarification of the problem that I have come across. It’s too bad that our politicians won’t pay any attention to his suggestions.
Andrew Crowe ’82
Fairfield, Connecticut

The lawsuit

**Richard Garnett closes his article (“Understanding the HHS lawsuits”) defending Notre Dame’s decision to sue Health and Human Services with the phrase, “religious freedom is both foundational and vulnerable.” I might remind all Catholic leaders, including those at Notre Dame, that women’s access to health care and their right to self-determination are equally foundational and vulnerable. Forgetting that fact places one at risk of following the path of those most famous of Christian villains: the Pharisees. They placed adherence to rigid religious dogma above the needs of the people that they claimed to serve.

James Rickert, M.D., ’84
Bloomington, Indiana

**The issue of the HHS lawsuit is institutional conscience versus individual conscience. The Church has traditionally taught the importance of individual conscience and this teaching was reinforced by Vatican II. The recent Catholic Church reminds me of the political climate of the McCarthy era when a minority of Church leaders, acting without the collective authority of the U.S. bishops, pushed a political agenda.

John Cantwell ’62
St. Louis, Missouri

**I am saddened by the University’s participation in the HHS suit but I am even more disappointed by the article by Richard Garnett defending the University’s position. Garnett fails to even discuss the University’s position on any of the crucial issues raised by the lawsuit. Why does the federal mandate that Catholic hospitals or universities conducting secular activities offer birth control insurance coverage create a moral imperative when the same requirements by the states created no such crisis? Why does this particular religious belief deserve to be exempt from secular rules applying to the rest of the population when other religious beliefs (such as polygamy, child sexual exploitation, divorce, capital punishment) receive no such exemption from secular rules? And, with 42 other plaintiffs, why did Notre Dame decide it must participate? In actuality, whether intended or not, the University’s participation makes friends of the right-wing politicians, and disappoints those alums who were taught to ask, “Why?”

Paul White ’66
Honolulu, Hawaii

**It is a unique and unfortunate historical accident that, unlike other nations, most Americans receive health insurance according to the preferences of their employers. Now that the basic human need of health care has become America’s favorite political football, some employers will find more and more reasons to dictate what benefits their employees will have and will not have. When basic rights come into conflict, haven’t we learned that justice demands awarding the decision to those who bring the least power to the conflict? Somehow those with money and power always seem to manage to take care of themselves.

Since we live in a pluralistic society, we will necessarily participate in things with which we do not agree and which even offend our moral sense. For example, my taxes have supported unconscionable measures taken in the name of “national security,” and I have little recourse.

Some Notre Dame employees will spend part of their salaries on “immoral” practices (such as artificial family planning) if these services are not covered by insurance. Notre Dame will knowingly and willingly provide the salaries which are the means to achieve this end. Is this so different from providing the same services through insurance? Is that difference really a principle worth going to war over? I don’t think so.

Lawrence M. Knoles ’66
Disney, Oklahoma

**Please discontinue sending me Notre Dame Magazine. Since the school filed its frivolous lawsuit in the name of defending religious freedom that is wrong on both the facts and the law, I’m not really interested in what you have to offer.

Daniel F. Luecke ’61
Boulder, Colorado

I am saddened by the University’s participation in the HHS suit, but I am even more disappointed in the article by Richar Garnett in your summer issue defending the University’s position. Mr. Garnett fails to even discuss the University’s position on any of the crucial issues raised by the lawsuit. Why does the federal mandate that Catholic hospitals or universities conducting secular activities offer birth control insurance coverage create a moral imperativwe when the same requirements by the states created no such crisis? Why does this particular religious belief deserve to be exempt from secular rules applying to the rest of the population when other religious beliefs (such as polygamy, child sexual exploitation, divorce, capital punishment . . .) receive no such exemption from secular rules? And, with 42 other plaintiffs, why did Notre Dame decide it must participate? In actuality, whether intended or not, the University’s participation in the lawsuit makes friends of the right-wing politicians, and disappoints we alums who were taught to ask “Why?”

Paul White ’66
Via email

Professor Garnett’s sappy, condescending treatment of the HHS mandate belongs in the “fashion” issue.

Tom Mahoney’
Buffalo Grove, Illinois

I read Richard Garnett’s “Understanding the HHS lawsuits.” Suppose the Affordable Care Act had been structured as Medicare-for-all, included “preventative services” as a benefit, and levied an employer-paid payroll tax to help pay for it. Would Notre Dame, invoking religious freedom, refuse to remit the payroll tax because some of the tax would be used to pay for preventative services? I don’t think so. And I see no different effect on religious freedom between this imagined payroll tax and the HHS mandate that qualified health plans, even if self-insured, cover preventative services.

ND is not a monastery or an isolated Amish community; it’s part of a broader American society. ND cannot expect special treatment in its civic role as a significant employer, especially where the moral views fueling its religious freedom contention depart so dramatically from the consensus on contraception.

Bill Parry ’72,’73
Hinsdale, Illinois

I have a solution to the obsession our Church leaders have with sexual issues: priests should get married. Men who have an uncontrollable urge to dominate women should try marriage and then tell me how that works for them. Catholic women use birth control so I think priests, bishops, etc. should stop wasting their time on an issue decided many years ago and go to the next problem on their list. If our Church leaders are so concerned about future generations practicing the Catholic faith then what are they doing to increase the number of young priests?

Mike Prendergast ’71
Ravenna, Ohio

Church observance

**Michael Garvey urges us in his excellent article (“Of What Spirit Are We?”) to avoid righteous wrath and lacerating hostilities within our Church. But many of the faithful can best be characterized as “disheartened.” Troubling issues of the role of women, celibacy, contraception, ecumenism and the sexual abuse cover-up concern us. Historians point out that the Renaissance popes simply didn’t get it when faced with the need for reform. Let us hope that, with guidance from the Holy Spirit, the hierarchical march to folly will not be repeated. Dorothy Day would expect no less.

Robert Lawton Jones ’49
Santa Fe, New Mexico

James Walton

**I was sorry to hear about the death of Professor James Walton, who amazed me as a sophomore English major-to-be with how much knowledge one could suck out of the first 20 lines of the Canterbury Tales over two weeks. As someone who wanted to enter journalism, I found Professor Walton’s Early English literature course was better than Quantico for would-be Marines. You had to write a paper once a week, but no longer than one and a half pages — and you had to say something intelligent, interesting and penetrating. I never forgot him and still think of him.

John G. Powers ’72
New York City

Vetville and the village

**Even though our family lived in the University Village a decade before Jennifer Kaczor’s family, we felt our family and community spirit was special and blessed. Thank you for reminding me of the good old days: rent at $125 per month, Mass at the community center that invoked prayers for quiet from cranky toddlers, the “victory garden” that was planted but abandoned because my son ate the rocks, and the not-so-private conversations, especially when we left our apartment door open on hot days. My husband was a 26-year-old freshman and Navy veteran who sprinted through Notre Dame to provide for his growing Catholic family, but we both savored the joys of family and community in the place called Vetville.

Susan Frazier
Pine Township, Pennsylvania


**What do you think the average football fan thinks about Notre Dame football? Do you believe they wonder about legends, memories and traditions? Or do you think they might see Notre Dame as they do other universities? That is, an institution that is engaged in a never-ending, always expanding quest for more football dollars. I am afraid that if Notre Dame relinquishes its independent status in football, the unique character of Notre Dame’s football tradition will disappear.

Robert W. Gosdick ’55
Rockford, Illinois

Page 21 is full-up with lines of rat-a-tat-tat fiery prose, perhaps the most exhilarating ND-football introduction I have ever read. But not a credit in sight. Whom should I thank?

I read it to my wife, who, like me, is patiently waiting for some of that glory to return. I read it to my daughter, who watched Rocket run, who sat with me in the stands at the ’93 Florida State game. I wish so much I could have read it to my father. He took me to a telecast of that 0-0 tie in ’46. A friend at work had a television set; I crouched in front of a minuscule B&W screen, the living room full of priests. He sat with me on the couch, the screen still B&W, and watched the 10-10 tie in ’66.

Perhaps I should thank you, Editor, for putting it all together in one glorious, heart-stopping paragraph.

Bill Brisick ’56
Via email

I think it’s really sad that ND spends millions on football when the world’s poor need help.

Ask anybody what they first think of when they hear the words ND and it’s “football,” not Christian works that you should be performing.

John Schmitz
Via email

Your compilation of names and things that go to make up Notre Dame Football omitted the mention of our hero here in Western Massachusetts. — Angelo Bertelli (ND’s first Heisman Trophy winner). Please honor him in a future article. We honored him here in his hometown. I can send you a picture of the memorial if you’d like. Thank you.

Fred Pugliano ’52
Via email

As usual, I enjoyed with great interest your editorial in the latest edition of Notre Dame Magazine. And then, I read the fourth paragraph. The words could have come directly from my head. Just last season I only watched one full game (the home opening loss). In the last three years, I doubt if I have seen more than three games in real time.

What bothers me, as well, is the players seem to have an inflated view of their worth. At best they’re mediocre. My biggest concern is that we are headed in the direction of the service academies . . . this is our glory is behind us and not ahead of us.

I guess things could be worse. We could be Penn State alums.

Tyrone Robinson ’73
Richboro, Pennsylvania

Kudos from we ND vets on your tribute to the ND scholar/athletes who helped win WWII. Perhaps the greatest accolade in this regard occurred in an 8/31/1987 Sports Illustrated feature on a non-Domer, Nile Kinnick, the Heisman Trophy winner and Rhodes Scholar at Iowa. A full-page pic shows ND’s Frank Carideo teaching Kinnick the art of punting. Assistant coaches Carideo and fellow Domer Jim Harris came to Iowa City with Head Coach and ‘21 Irish captain Dr. Eddie Anderson, a board -certified urologist. Dr. Anderson’s annual salary was $10,000.

Iowa’s defeat of Notre Dame in 1939 was possibly the performance that got Kinnick his trophy. He died June 2, 1943, when his Navy plane developed mechanical problems and he crashed into the sea, fearing casualties if he tried to land on his carrier.

We mission wherever we go, whatever we do. God – Country – Notre Dame is a contagious condition.

Steve Simon Hook ’65
Etna, Ohio

Mr. Moran’s article describes well the “isolation” issue. One solution, of course, is for Notre Dame to in fact form a league of its own, drawn from schools with comparable academic standards: Stanford; Northwestern; Boston College; Vanderbilt; Duke; and Rice. It could be called the AEC — the “Academic Elite Conference;” for those sufficiently sentient to be offended by this title, an alternative would be “The National Conference,” as national indeed it would be.

Assuming a 12-game schedule, there would still be room for Notre Dame to play its traditional rivals: USC; Purdue; Navy; and, in alternating years, Michigan and Michigan State. The other two “wildcard” games would be with teams in all sections of the country.

A National Conference championship would be an achievable yearly goal and could well lead again to the ultimate goal of a national championship.

Noel J. Augustyn ’74J.D.
Chevy Chase, Maryland

My addiction to Notre Dame football commenced during the autumn of 1964 when my dad took me to my initial game in ND stadium, a 24-0 win over UCLA. Dad is a native of Mishawaka and Mom is a native of South bend. I was born and raised in southern Indiana, but that did not prevent me from listening to all the Notre Dame football games broadcast over the radio. I subsequently attended Notre Dame from 1971 to 1975, enjoying Ara Parseghian’s final four years as the head coach.

I have to admit that the debacle of the Davie/Willingham/Weis trifecta has eliminated my addiction to Notre Dame football. However, these three individuals are not entirely responsible for the decline in Notre Dame’s rating in the AP Top 25 poll. the concurrence of the NCAA’s 85 athletic scholarship limit rule, the BCSs format and its resultant emphasis on conference affiliation and Notre Dame’s insistence on attaining a 100 percent graduation rate for its football team members is in large part the reasons why Notre Dame will never again meet the standard established during the initial 105 years of its football program.

During Parseghian’s tenure, it was common for the coach to award 35 scholarships every year. There was room for error if someone did not make the grades or was lost to injury. The BCS format has put Notre Dame in a corner concerning its independence — the BCS is skewed to those programs that belong to a conference. The recent four-team playoff announcement will make conference affiliation even more important, and in a sense, more hypocritical. Add the university’s insistence that its football players graduate at a 100 percent clip while taking calculus, chemistry, biology and physics, while more than a few universities in the so-called football power conferences allow its players to take ballet classes and high school math creates a situation of schoolwork imbalance on a grave scale.

For Notre Dame to once again reach the pinnacle in the college football world, the NCAA must cure the disease that is college football. Maybe we need to go back to the days when freshman were not eligible. Maybe the NCAA should require that coaches teach a couple of actual college classes so as to reduce them from iconic levels to academic levels. The NCAA, along with university leaders, must take measures to draw college football back into the academic campus community. If they do not, Notre Dame will never again meet its long ago established standard for its football program, and conferences, like the one down south, will become the organized crime outfit of intercollegiate football.

Brian Sontchi ’75
Via email

Great football lore. It should have included a unique trivia item: that Marty Wendell (RIP 2012) was the only player to have earned three separate monograms at three different positions: fullback, center and Rt. guard.

Robert P. Kane ’49
Wilmington, Delaware

The two program pages were awesome to me. I love to see history pass in subtle ways, and that layout was ideal. I however, feel that a vital program cover was left unseen. Long story . . . when I was accepted at ND, an old friend dropped off a gift, a program for the Dedication game of Notre Dame Stadium, 1930. Not knowing ND history at the time, I assumed (considering the cover design) that he had already died. He soon would, but the prescience of this cover always had an emotional impact on me.

Timothy Shilling ’85
Via email

Really nice cover. Do you plan on selling it? Thanks.

Mike Glasstetter ’84
Via email

Leahy, the lieutenant

Enjoyed “More than a Game”! The fall of ’47 was my freshman year and those guys were my heroes. It was a great four years of ND football. For the sake of accuracy, Frank Leahy was a Navy Lieutenant. There is no such rank as 1st Lieutenant as was mentioned on page.27.

Dick Burke ’51
Skokie, Illinois

I enjoyed the article in the summer 2012 issue regarding 125 years of football. I would like to correct one small error in the article. On page 27 the article refers to Coach Leahy as a “first lieutenant” in the Navy. He held the rank of Lieutenant, which is the equivalent of a Captain in the army. His rank insignia is clearly indicated in the picture of him in his Navy uniform. The Navy does not have a rank of “first lieutenant.” Also, not related to the article, there was a video a few years ago that called the coach a Captain in the navy. That was also an error. These errors should not be perpetuated.

Robert E. Thomas ’45, Captain, U. S. Navy (Retired)
(Also a submariner!) (Also, Past president of the alumni class of 1945.)
Monterey, California

The family story

**Mel Livatino’s essay, “Wintry Rooms of Love,” is one of the saddest, truest, most beautiful pieces I have read in your magazine or anywhere else. The quality of thinking, writing and feeling is exceptional; it feels like the kind of thing I should read annually.
Michele Thomas ’83
Lebanon, Indiana

**“Wintry Rooms of Love” was the best article I have ever read in my 72 years of life. Notre Dame Magazine has many outstanding articles but this was the best.
Donna Hennessey
Glenview, Illinois

I wanted to say how deeply touched I was by Mel Livatino’s article, “Wintry Rooms of Love.” Having lost all of my grandparents and both of my parents, and as the mother of adult children, I was moved to tears by the unrelenting honesty of his words.

Mary P. Lake
Via email

In your most recent issue, Mel Livatino’s essay was one of the most powerful ones I’ve ever read.

Don Pizzutello ’55
Via email


Thank you for “Matt Swinton’s declaration of independence.” In my work as a consultant to financial advisors I often point out that the evolution from rookie advisor into independent advisor is only the first phase of the journey. Those who learn to be true financial advisors break through their egos and achieve interdependence. This is the realization that one can’t fulfill one’s potential alone. We need to open up to and accept the talents, spirit and love of others. Only then will we achieve the unique greatness God has challenged each of us to find within. Matt is an excellent example of this, and I humbly suggest a re-titling: “Matt Swinton’s declaration of Interdependence.” That he found interdependence so early in life is wonderful. I work with many advisors ready to retire who are stuck in their limiting independence. Go, Matt!

Al Depman ’73
Via email

Your Summer 2012 article about Matt Swinton and his remarkable friends and roommates in O’Neill Hall made me cry on a Chicago public bus during rush hour. Thank you for telling stories that make me fall in love with Notre Dame all over again.

Brigid Sweeney ’03
Via email

Major kudos

Please accept my congratulations on putting out what I consider the best Notre Dame Magazine issue I’ve ever read. What a spectacular recovery from the much-maligned “Fashion” issue for you and your staff (I wasn’t put off by it, but judging by the responses printed in the summer issue you received a significant amount of feedback).


• “Wintry Rooms of Love” may be the best, most poignant article I’ve read in any publication in the past year. I had tears in my eyes while reading it. Please consider featuring more of Mr. Livatino’s work in the future.
• The feature on ND brewers appealed strongly to me — I’m a long time homebrewer who got his start brewing on a hot plate on the 4th floor of Carroll Hall 15 years ago. I just toured the Flying Dog brewery a few months ago and wish I’d known that there were a pair of Domers there to mooch more beer from.
• The revelation that Matt Swinton’s roommates and O’Neill dormmates cared for him during his collegiate years should come as no real surprise to those of us who discovered love and lifelong friendships in our dorms at ND, but it still moved me to my core to learn about the commitment they made to their friend and the sacrifices they made to ensure that he could remain a part of their community. What a special group of young men they are.
• The football features, particularly “More Than a Game,” were standouts. You treated the polarizing topic of football independence with a deft touch and a healthy dose of context and history, and the piece on Leahy’s Lads was exceedingly well-written and researched. One can never hear enough about “Jungle Jim” Martin and his compatriots.
• “Tattered Saints” was a wonderful piece that reflected the core values one hopes to see in a “Notre Dame Man.” I applaud Mr. Mortenson’s whole-hearted commitment not only to the people in his care but to their memories and the capture of their personalities for posterity.
• As the father of a 5-year-old daughter, “The Ride of a Lifetime” truly touched me and captured the feeling of time spent with my own child.
• Lastly, the cover art and back cover art were terrific (I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of the “Dujarie Institute 1906” stone in the rear montage). Is it possible to purchase a print of the cover art? I would love for it to join the many posters I have received from your magazine’s funding drives.

Brian Miller ’98
Via email

Guitar man

I received the Summer issue of the magazine and am inspired by the article about Don Savoie. I have been playing drums for a long time, and also had big dreams. I have focused on my family and work for many years. After reading about Don, I have dreams of at least playing in local clubs and possibly, at least partially, fulfilling that dream.

Craig Brzezinski ’96MBA

Outsourcing The Shirt

The article addressing “The Shirt Costs A Little Extra” on page 17, misses the point. The Dominican Republic factory workers may be paid a “living wage,” but the real issue is: Why did Notre Dame contract with a company that makes the shirt in a foreign country???

With the demise of our economic fabric in the USA and the battle cry against “Outsourcing,” shouldn’t ND contract the manufacture of The Shirt to a company totally in America? I believe Notre Dame has lost its compass.

Gary Canori ’72
Via email

Fashion fans

I liked the spring issue; it was nice to try something different. I also liked seeing London Vale on the cover. I hope to see more of her professionally.

Joseph McGarry ’86, ’89J.D.
Via email

I just received the latest copy of ND magazine and was shocked over how many complaints you received for the fashion issue. I thought the issue was beautifully done; I felt it was similar to the style sections in the NYT or WSJ. Caring about your appearance does not make you stupid or even vain — and reading about fashion appeals to a great deal of people, Notre Dame graduates included. You did a great job and I will keep the style issue for many years to come. I hope to see another one — or maybe even just an article here and there.

Sara Alice Flynn
Via email

I just got my summer magazine and read the letters. Some were really harsh about the fashion issue. The image of pitchforks and wood axes surrounding Grace Hall is hard to erase from my mind. They didn’t get the cover was a lampoon of your typical McCalls or Women’s Day with the catchy headlines. They remind me of some of the loonies who wrote me when I was doing political cartoons.

It is apparent that people have lost their sense of humor. Humbling words for a guy who is just a cartoonist. Just note that some of us “got it.”

Michael Molinelli ’82
Molinelli Architects

The spring issue brought smiles to me and thank you for a bit of fun after the winter doldrums. Keep up the good work.

Danielle Lange
Via email

If I’d have known that your Spring 2012 issue would have garnered so much criticism, I would have written to share a different perspective.

About 65 percent of the clients coming to my law office are women. Your Spring 2012 issue featuring fashion designers with Notre Dame pedigrees was — by far — the most dog-eared edition of Notre Dame Magazine that ever graced my reception room table . . . that is, until one of my female clients asked if she could “borrow” it to read all of the articles. I’ve not seen it since.

Could you send me an extra copy, or two, or half a dozen?

S. David Worhatch, ’79J.D.
Via email

Wow!! I am overwhelmed by the negative letter responses to the “fashion” issue. I am not sure what bothers me more — that so many ND alumni and friends were so narrow-minded about the issue that they threw it in the trash without reading it (or even letting their family or co-workers read it), or that they seem to be so utterly humorless in their reactions. I am sorry to hear that intellectual snobbery is alive and well among the ND family. I really thought we were beyond that.

Even though I was a business major, I had enough English, philosophy and social science at ND that I like to think of myself as being open-minded. I thought most of my classmates felt the same way. I sincerely hope that we have a “silent majority” of alumni and friends who are open-minded enough not to discard a magazine by merely looking at its cover.

Many of my instructors at ND had great senses of humor. There is nothing wrong with a magazine representing our great institution that thinks it is OK to do something humorous every now and then. I can’t imagine our esteemed President Emeritus Father Hesburgh being upset about the university’s magazine having an issue that contains tongue-in-cheek commentary about our wearing apparel.

To those of you who saw the issue and embraced its contents, good for you. To those of you who looked at the cover of the “fashion” issue and thought “what have they done now?” but read it anyway and maybe enjoyed it, congratulations! You did learn something from your ND professors who taught you to be open-minded. To the rest of you, the next time you receive a magazine (from ND or anywhere else!) and you do not like what you see on the cover, it is OK to step outside of your comfort zone and read it. Who knows? You might even learn something new.

George T. Thompson ’68
San Diego, California

Summer ’12 Issue is one of the best. There is variety and excellent content. Those who panned the Spring issue should be pleased with this one. Touch Down!

R. B. Schoeneman ’59
Via email

I didn’t have any problems with the Style issue other than I didn’t think the looks featured were all that fashionable.

But speaking of clothes, I am deeply proud that no Notre Dame-branded apparel is manufactured in mainland China.

Sean King ’99MBA
New York/Taipei

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they labor not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these. — Luke 12: 27

If Solomon and Jesus were aware of fashion I don’t know why it shouldn’t also be an appropriate topic for Notre Dame magazine. It seems the Lord did indeed appreciate fashion and recognized its potential for enhancing our life experience.

My wife once made a good living and managing upscale clothing boutiques in Acapulco during that city’s glory days. Managing a boutique at that time — when much of the clothing was custom made — meant having an eye for the customer, the clothing, the fabric, and the seamstress — being sensitive and responsive to all elements.

One of our best friends is a humble and extremely respected professor of fabric and clothing design equally comfortable at New York fashion circles and Oaxacan weaver workshops.

Me? I am from the almost far north and my idea of a fashion statement used to mean putting on a clean flannel shirt, but I really love watching my wife and friend enhance the human body with their art and hopefully some of their sensitivity has rubbed off on me.

Thank you for daring to follow your whimsy for a quarter and publishing the fashion issue. For me it is one of the few issues in a long time that I read cover to cover. I was one of the lucky ones. It helped me to understand my wife and our design professor friend’s worlds a little better and rejoice that ND Magazine had room for the topic and treated it with respect.

Good news: The range of letters the issue prompted demonstrates that Domers are a diverse group. Bad news: A significant portion of Domers seem cursed with a stiff rod up their you-know-where reaching high enough to deaden the receptive portion of the brain.

I was happy that at least a few of us read before we judged and discovered new insights on a world we were aware of but which was always just a bit out of our reach despite the patient efforts of loving friends and spouses to get us there.

My garden lilies are only so-so this year, but the spring issue was fun and my wife and friend delight me even more with their sense of style.

Phil Morrow ’66
Via email

Just wanted to congratulate you folks on the Style issue. What a breath of fresh air. The spread of condemnatory letters in the football issue made for some of the most delightful reading I’ve enjoyed in a long time. Hilarious how hidebound and pathetic some of these old grads are . . . guess that’s why I feel absolutely no ties to my alma mater. I have great memories of the time I spent there in the 1960s, but at that time the institution seemed to be at the forefront of society. Today, I imagine if Notre Dame were personified, it would be in the form of an elderly, white, intolerant, ignorant, wealthy, belligerent and drunken geezer, pontificating about past glories as viewed through a whiskey glass, darkly.

Now that I have that rant off my chest, congrats on a magazine I sincerely enjoy, no matter my problems with the institution and its alumni.

Kelly Knauer ’70
Via email

I found the Spring 2012 edition to be truly marvelous and delightful, all the more so that you meant it to be tongue-in-cheek and frivolous. The fact that I have a 28-year-old daughter pursuing a thespian career in New York and London may have contributed in part to my appreciation of this edition. “Break a leg” is a wish for good luck in theatre that I send her prior to each performance.

I found it quite disappointing that you felt compelled in the edition’s Letter from the Editor to “be serious again soon enough.” Perhaps those who criticized you both in words and thoughts in the Summer 2012 edition are now rolling in satisfaction with your immediate return to the subject of “125 Years of Notre Dame FOOTBALL,” the cover and cover story of the Summer 2012 edition.

Serious, valuable and prideful indeed it is to observe over-grown male human beings colliding violently with each other in the sole pursuit of moving an elliptical piece of leather across a dusted line of chalk. And just when that process demonstrates some element of excitement, somebody gets knocked down, everything stops and these over-grown male human beings stand in circles, hold hands and talk with each other.

I eagerly await your “Second Annual Fashion Issue.” Ms. Vale, ‘break a leg!’

Mark C. Thickpenny ’74
Via email

That letter

My reaction to your publication of Joseph Ryan’s letter in the Summer 2012 issue was remarkably similar to how other readers received the Spring 2012 fashion issue: Is this a bad joke? I appreciate that fashion, while not a matter of the weight some of your readers have come to expect, can be a fun, relevant and worthy topic to explore. However, as many readers noted, a danger which comes with a consideration of fashion is the potential for superficiality and objectification. So why would you allow your magazine — the very Letters from Readers pages which hosted a (mostly) reasonable, well-balanced discussion of the Spring issue — to become a grounds for airing an aging man’s sexual fantasies about short-skirted young women?

Most 80+ pages of the Spring 2012 issue managed to avoid the quagmire of blatant objectification that so many “grocery store” fashion magazines fall into, only for Notre Dame Magazine to fall face-first in the subsequent issue with a couple of crass sentences from an alumnus. If you truly want to show that fashion doesn’t have to be “twaddle,” it seems reasonable not to give a platform to someone who has an obviously objectifying and demeaning attitude toward a photo spread.

Monica VanBladel ’12
Via email


Hello. I just read the article, “Time and Again: An Appreciation of Father Charles L. O’Donnell, CSC,” by Jacqueline Vaught Brogan. This article was forwarded to me by my cousin, Alice Charnley, who came across it while researching our family tree. Her mother (Dorothy Lahey) and mine (Rosemary Lahey) were the daughters of our grandmother, Irene McLean. Father O’Donnell was first cousin to either our grandmother Irene McLean or to our great grandparents McLean, who came to Brooklyn from Ireland. Fr O’Donnell occasionally would come to stay at our great grandparent’s Brooklyn brownstone on Herkimer St. It was a big deal when he came to visit, and my Aunt Dorothy (who was 13 when Fr O’Donnell passed) remembered him being set up in the front parlor, where he was always busy with paperwork. My mother, Rosemary, was only 3 years old when he died (she will be 81 in November 2012), but she always kept his obituary. My mother also said that Fr O’Donnell’s nephew, also Fr Charles O’Donnell (different middle name), I believe, also became a priest, and worked at Notre Dame, possibly in Admissions. This might have been the nephew who edited the book of Fr O’Donnell’s poems. When I was of college age, my mother said that Fr O’Donnell left in his will two scholarships to Notre Dame or St Mary’s to be used by any of his relatives, but we never researched this to see if it was true, or if they were already used.

I ended up earning a B.A. from Elmira College (in Elmira, NY) as an Art and English major, and have made my living as an advertising copywriter and financial marketing writer. I have a niece and nephew (through my college roommate) – Amanda and Justin Golbabai — who recently graduated from Notre Dame, and they hadn’t heard of Fr O’Donnell; I just forwarded to them this article. Thank you to Jacqueline Brogran for such a heartfelt tribute — I LOVE that she is a Leo and her middle name means grace! I do believe that Fr O’Donnell “spoke” to her.

By the way, I survived 9/11 (I worked for Morgan Stanley, the largest tenant in the WTC; we occupied the second tower.), so I appreciated Ms. Brogan’s excerpts of her poem following that awful day — as well as the advice Fr O’Donnell gave to a WWII soldier cited by Ms. Brogan. In fact, at the moment I thought I would die (and I do not jump to such a conclusion easily; I was also in the 1993 bombing), when I regressed to a 6 year old in her Catholic school uniform (I had begun school in Manhattan at Epiphany School.) looking for someone to help me, when I could think of nothing to do to save myself, my right hand suddenly reached toward my forehead and I slowly, tentatively crossed myself. That simple act calmed me enough to get moving and out of danger. A year later, while participating in writing/drawing “postcards to God” on a Long Island, NY, beach, I was able to trade my survivor’s guilt for a joyful celebration of life; the best way I could think of to offer tribute to those who were lost that day. Thank you again for this heartfelt article.

Patrice Saunders
Via email

Vietnam decisions

In the Spring issue, I was struck by the letter from Patrick J. McDonnell on page 5, referring to a previous article. Mr. McDonnell is entitled to his own opinion, but as he says, let’s not “misconstrue” opinion as “fact.” He made his decision — he joined the Marines, fought in Vietnam, and it was obviously a very important formative experience for him. However, more than 1,000,000 Vietnamese and 57,000 Americans died, upwards of 20 percent of the land was defoliated, and an estimated 500,000 children had birth defects. With that information, others of us made different decisions. For example, I was a conscientious objector to military service. In the words of Mr. McDonnell, does that make us “self-righteous” or “cynical”?

We’re a better country than that — we didn’t need to do it. We were there to prevent the “domino theory” — if Vietnam fell to the communists, then all of Southeast Asia will fall, and then they’ll take over the rest of the world. Didn’t happen. Vietnam fell, then Cambodia. Then Vietnam went to war with Cambodia. Then the Soviet Union and its satellites fell apart of their own internal weaknesses. This was not actually the “final collapse of communism in 1989” as Mr. McDonnell states — China’s communists are still there.

In summary, Mr. McDonnell made a decision which apparently worked out to his satisfaction. He seems comfortable with that, and I respect that. But I hope that he will realize that others of us made different decisions for reasons that weren’t necessarily “cynical.” I don’t know if I’m “self-righteous,” but let’s just say that I’m also comfortable with my decisions.

Paul T. Pitlick, ’63
Palo Alto, California

Story idea
Thank you for the fine summer issue. You are definitely back on track with some great articles. May I suggest doing a story on a true Notre Dame man, Father Robert Pelton, CSC, who at 91 years young is still going strong with his many projects and interests. Perhaps you have done a story on him and I just don’t recall it. He has been our friend for 58 years and his total priestly life continues to enlighten us. As a point of reference there is a biography of Father Bob, “The Future of Our Past” (2001), which could be a starting point. He has done much since then.

Frank F. Conte ’56
Via email

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