Letters to the editor

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Editor’s note: Letters appearing in the winter 2018-19 print issue are marked by a double ##.

 

Wisdom on a postcard

 

##The postcard visual accompanying “Think peace” was striking. Congratulations to Professor Mahan Mirza of the Keough School of Global Affairs. His postcard (“Worry about the log in your own eye rather than the speck in your neighbor’s” and “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”) is succinct and accurate. It doesn’t waste words, deal in feel-good generalities or tell us how difficult the subject is.

 

If Professor Mirza’s words could be implemented, there would be world peace. But unless everybody “gets” the Golden Rule at the same time, there is little hope for success. Unfortunately, to be credible one would have to believe there would be instantaneous retribution for a “non-golden” act. Without someone believing that within moments his own arm would be chopped off, the Golden Rule can’t be effective.

 

George Mouzakis ’66

Naples, Florida

 

Peace and war

 

##I appreciated Roy Scranton’s blatant statement about war (“Myths and truths in the toll of war”). So, out of curiosity, and weighed against the “Think peace” article, did anyone at the Kroc Institute’s summer conference say, “Get Notre Dame out of the ROTC-military business”? Or, “Stop the flyovers at football games”? 

 

Catherine Foley

Taylor Lake Village, Texas

 

Unfair admissions policies

 

##Legacy admissions (“Footsteps and bootstraps”) discriminate against minority and low-income applicants in favor of the sons and daughters of Notre Dame alumni who are, we may assume, mostly white and affluent. Such institutionalized bias is contrary to an even-handed admissions policy that judges applicants on merit and need and not on “connections.” Even worse, this policy encourages the increasing and alarming social division in our society. Notre Dame should do away with or seriously reduce the number of such admissions.

 

Mike McDermott ’63

Orland Park, Illinois

 

##Legacy admissions have become a form of affirmative action for the rich and the white, and research has proven it. Research has also shown very little evidence that legacy preferences increase donations. And so, one wonders what the true benefit of Notre Dame’s continued excessive reliance on legacy admissions is. Whatever the benefit, it is hard to ignore the cost of reserving one out of every four seats in every freshman class to legacy students. Part of that cost is denying a Notre Dame education to those who would be the first in their families to experience it. And that cost is a bad message: that Notre Dame wants to confine what it offers to an insular club of mostly white, affluent people lucky enough to be born to the right sort of parents. The message suggests a sort of hypocrisy to the University’s pious platitudes about having a diverse student body and extending ladders of opportunity to people who don’t hail from the club.

 

Dan Lawton ’83

San Diego, California

 

Building boom benefit

 

##In “Groundbreaking tenure,” it was noted that 36 new buildings have been constructed since 2004. Yet since then, the undergraduate and graduate enrollment has remained at about 8,000 and 2,000. So why were another 36 buildings needed?

 

Tom Devine ’77

Lincroft, New Jersey

 

War chaplain

 

##The article on Father Joe Barry (“Onward Christian soldier”) brought back fond memories of an amazing, Christ-like priest. Father Joe often talked to us about his experience as a military chaplain and the combat action he saw at Anzio Beach — staggering numbers of casualties he equated with losing an entire Notre Dame graduating class. His experiences shaped him into the loving, forgiving man who fully understood human nature with its strengths and weaknesses. Back in 1962, we Catholics had a lot more sins to confess than we have today (eating meat on Friday, for example), so the Saturday afternoon confessionals were often busy in Sacred Heart Church. But you could always tell which confessional Father Joe was in by the long lines of students waiting to enter his confessional; he was known as the “light penance” priest.

 

Kevin T. Connelly ’62

Sarasota, Florida

 

Money isn’t bad

 

##I would like to correct one common misconception about money found in “The Great American Tug of War” — namely that money may be the root of all evil. Actually, what the Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:10 is that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. That is a big difference. Money is not inherently good or bad. It depends on how it is acquired and how it is used. Money is often considered a blessing, and many good things can come with it.

 

Dave Goebel ’66

Damascus, Oregon

 

Artist-in-residence

 

##Thanks for the profile of Kathryn Mapes Turner ’95 (“Painting a Sense of Place”). She is an increasingly rare kind — a Valley resident who can trace her family’s presence in Wyoming back multiple generations. For those of us who have spent innumerable days climbing in the Tetons and for those who have skied, backpacked, ridden whitewater, hunted and fished, or even ranched in Jackson Hole, her paintings truly capture the real meaning of the place. In the face of ever-encroaching, ever-compromising development, Kathryn enables us to appreciate the elements that still make it unique.

 

John Foskett ’73

Needham, Massachusetts

 

The archbishop 

 

##When I was a student with the Saint Mary’s Rome program in 1998, I was invited to dinner with some American priests, one of whom was Father Charles Brown ’81, who became my good friend and spiritual guide. After subsequent dinners Archbishop Brown and I met regularly for spiritual direction since he knew I was feeling called to the consecrated life. He gave me a book that quoted extensively from the letters and “Rule of St. Clare of Assisi,” and this medieval woman, the first woman to write her own rule, captured all that I felt called to embrace. Archbishop Brown encouraged me then and continues to do so now. We were blessed to have him visit our monastery here in Chicago shortly before he was named nuncio to Ireland. So it was with great joy that I read Sarah Cahalan’s “Envoy to Albania,” so others will learn about this wonderful priest, churchman, diplomat and friend. 

 

Sister Mary Colette, PCC

(Christina “Tina” Goetz ’99) 

Chicago

 

Final prayer 

 

##In reading Carol LaChapelle’s “A worrisome place to be,” in which she writes of rediscovering the St. Francis prayer for peace, my mind went immediately to my childhood and adolescence in South Bend. At that time all three local TV stations signed off for the night after the last show. WNDU’s sign-off was Father Hesburgh reciting the entirety of that prayer. Thank you for such a beautiful and poignant reminder.

 

Andrew Thomas ’73

Safety Harbor, Florida 

 

Memories of a captain

 

Your Autumn 2018 issue contained an inspiring article about Fr. Joseph Barry, CSC, Chaplain during WW2. Born in 1902, ordained in 1933, and became an army Chaplain in 1941. His unit, the 45th infantry division, was in heavy combat in Italy, France, and Germany.  He was known as the "Foxhole Chaplain". Because of his work on the front lines, he was a saintly priest and hero.  

 

He was our freshman Rector in Farley Hall 1947-1948. Strangely, I never knew his history and don't recall any of my hall-mates knowing about his military heroics! It was characteristic of the thousands of Notre Dame combat vets to never talk about their experiences. Fr. Barry was the model hall priest, our spiritual mentor and counselor, and was always available.  

 

However, ten members of the "New York Club" found out he could also be tough. One night we were returning from a beer bust celebrating Thanksgiving in South Bend. None of us "feeling any pain" and singing loudly as we approached Farley Hall. Suddenly, Fr. Barry appeared out of the dark. Sounding like an Army drill sergeant he yelled out, "What's going on here? Are you all drunk? You are all in trouble! Give me your names. This will have to be reported!" Sheepishly, we quickly gave him our names. What a disaster! For the next two weeks all we could think about was how our parents worked very hard to get us admitted, paid tuition, etc. Now we had let them down! The possibility of being kicked out of Notre Dame and going home in shame after only three months was demoralizing! However, nothing ever happened and he never mentioned it again. He had made his point!  

 

The following fall, my parents from Saranac Lake, NY, drove out to visit me and our beautiful, historic campus. I arranged a friendly chat with Fr. Barry and he was most gracious to my mother and father. He was the football Team Chaplain and entertained the three of us with stories about Coach Frank Leahy and stars like Johnny Lujack. When my father commented on how young Fr. Barry looked, he replied: "The secret is a wee bit of Irish whiskey daily!"

 

Your story also mentioned that Fr. Barry and 63 other Chaplains met with Pope Pius X11 at the Vatican. After addressing the group, the Holy Father spent a moment with each Chaplain.  When he learned Fr. Barry was from Notre Dame, he said, "It is very beautiful. I was there in 1936".  

 

After my sophomore year at ND I was with a tour group of 28 students who had the honor and privilege of a private audience with the same Pope! Again, he met briefly with everyone. When I told him I was from ND and that I was aware of his 1936 visit there, his eyes brightened and he again exclaimed, "What a beautiful place it is!" Being in his presence was a life changing experience. You could almost feel electrical currents emanating from this holy successor to St. Peter! The wonderful experience was even more special knowing that my favorite mentor, Fr. Barry, had met with the same Pope only 5 years prior. 

 

What a wonderful priest!  He will be in my memories forever!  

 

Walter McGovern ‘51

Portland, Oregon

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