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“No organ builder worth his salt will build an organ for a space that’s carpeted,” says Father Peter Rocca, CSC, ’70, ’73M.A, rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Carpet, apparently a post-Vatican II design move to make churches more inviting, eats sound. So, anticipating the installation by early 2016 of a $3.2 million instrument crafted by acclaimed Tacoma, Washington, designer Paul Fritts, the Basilica closed the day after Christmas for an overhaul of its flooring. Forty-four days later, the last of 25,000 textured, slate-colored porcelain tiles was laid, completing a $500,000 renovation project that has drawn raves for giving the 125-year-old church a more beautiful, European feel. Fritts has also created pipe organs for Notre Dame’s Reyes Organ Recital Hall and the rehearsal room in Coleman-Morse Hall named for the late Basilica organist and choir director Gail Walton. . . .


Poulet Sauté Chasseur, pan-roasted chicken in a flavorful tomato sauce, topped the menu for the dining hall feast served February 6 in honor of Father Edward Sorin’s 200th birthday. Executive Chef Donald Miller researched foods Sorin would have known both as a gentleman-farmer’s son in northwestern France and as antebellum founder of Notre Dame. The meal itself took nearly two weeks to prepare. Fish stew, braised-beef pot roast, an elegant selection of vegetables and a French cake rounded out the gustatory segment of the celebration, which included a Mass and public tours of the Log Chapel. . . .


Swimming star Emma Reaney, a junior from Lawrence, Kansas, set an American record in the women’s 200-breaststroke at the ACC Championships in February. Reaney’s mark of 2:04.34 shaved .14 seconds off previous record-holder Breeja Larson’s time, as well as .23 seconds off the personal best of Rebecca Soni, who won Olympic gold in the event in London two years ago. The feat made Reaney the first Irish student-athlete to set a U.S. record while enrolled as an undergraduate. . . .


Notre Dame stands alone as the only one of several religious nonprofit organizations formally denied its request for a court injunction that would have temporarily blocked enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions for contraceptive coverage. The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel’s decision in February to uphold a lower court’s ruling meant employees and students enrolled in one of the University’s health plans remained eligible for the coverage of contraceptives. The University has notified plan participants that the program may be discontinued pending the outcome of legal actions related to Notre Dame v. Sebelius, the University’s active lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Our concern remains that if government is allowed to entangle a religious institution of higher education like Notre Dame in one area contrary to conscience, it’s given license to do so in others,” University spokesman Paul Browne told the South Bend Tribune. . . .


For one shining moment, at least, the world’s No. 1 foilist was a Notre Dame MBA student. When Gerek Meinhardt ’13 thrust his way to a bronze medal at January’s Paris Foil World Cup, the Irish fencing captain had earned enough points to claim the top spot in the International Fencing Federation’s senior individual rankings for men’s foil, the first American to achieve that distinction. The two-time Olympian had slipped into second place before this magazine went to press but appeared to be holding that spot by a comfortable margin. . . .


Young Ned Joyce arrived on campus at age 16 during the depths of the Depression. He would become the first South Carolinian to graduate from Notre Dame and eventually — as Father Edmund P. Joyce, CSC, ’37 — the executive vice president of the University who served 35 years under Father Theodore Hesburgh. “Father Ned,” who died in 2004, never forgot his roots. Today his old Spartanburg home parish, Saint Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, boasts a new church designed by Professor Duncan Stroik of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture. Bishop Robert Guglielmone of Charleston dedicated the Romanesque gem on downtown Spartanburg’s Main Street in December. Project chair Chris Crowley, whom Joyce regarded as an unofficial godson, created the sculpture of Saint Paul fallen from his horse that appears above the church’s front door. . . .


Friends remember Akash Sharma, a third-year Ph.D. student in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Delhi, India, as an affable joke-teller who loved his work as much as he loved sharing stories about his country and its culture. The Boxing Club member and former co-president of the Indian Association of Notre Dame died January 1. . . .


The “least feasible idea” put forward by Zahm Hall freshmen Sean Campbell and George McCabe during their campaign for student body president and vice-president? Their plan to scrap the University’s new 10-year athletics apparel contract with Under Armour, estimated to be worth as much as $90 million, in favor of a new deal with Wrangler Jeans. Campbell told The Observer he thought the jeans better suited to teams’ needs. The Campbell-McCabe ticket attracted 290 votes, just under 8 percent of the first-round balloting in the February election. At press time, according to ycharts.com, Under Armour’s market capitalization had jumped $3.5 billion, more than a third of its estimated value on the eve of the January 21 announcement.


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