Letters to the editor

Author: Readers

Editor’s note: The letters that appeared in the Spring 2007 print issue are marked with a double asterisk (**).

Father Hesburgh . . .
**Your “Letter from Campus—Happy 90th” recalled just a few memorable events in which Father Hesburgh played a key role. Whether it was the 1967 Land O’Lakes Statement, the lay board of trustees, the March for Peace (in which he walked with students), service on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, the “15-minute Rule,” the enrolling of women undergrads in 1972 and so many other significant events, he remained a person of conviction, values, leadership and vision. His commitment and dedication to Notre Dame was reflected in all he did. As was declared in the 1967 statement: “The Catholic university must be an institution, a community of learners and scholars in which Catholicism is perceptibly present and effectively operative. . . . [T]he Catholic university of the future will be a true modern university but specifically Catholic in profound and creative ways for the service of society and the people of God.”

Happy birthday, Father Ted, and thanks for the insights.

Donald A. Wich Jr. ’69, ’72J.D.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Read with interest your article in the spring issue of Notre Dame Magazine of Father Hesburgh’s 90th birthday. And thought you might find it interesting to read a quote from the biography of Pope John Paul II entitled, Man of the Century. This was written by Jonathan Kwitney in 1997, pages 333-34:

Another visitor at Castle Gandolfo that summer was Father Hesburgh, then President of Notre Dame, the preeminent Catholic university in the United States. It was their first meeting, though Father Hesburgh had often visited Paul VI. He recalls, “I went in (to John Paul) with six points that were very important to me,” about a Theological Institute Hesburgh ran.

The Pope “had one book on his desk—an atlas.” Hesburgh says, “He wanted to know where I’m from. I said the Archdiocese of Fort Wayne (Indiana: Notre Dame is in South Bend in that Archdiocese). And he thought I was from Fort Worth (Texas). I spoke to him in Italian, but he saw this as an opportunity to speak English. I came in with six points and didn’t get through to him with any of them.”

Hesburgh says that over the years, he could never get John Paul engaged in a good conversation. “One time I had just returned from China and started to tell him about the Church in Peking. He just brushed it off, (saying) “Patriotic Church,” meaning loyal to the government. It was obvious he wasn’t interested in talking about the “Church in China.” Hesburgh was unaware that John Paul had secretly appointed a Chinese cardinal, misjudged the Pope’s interest in China; the point, though, is that John Paul brushed off a major American Catholic academician as not worth listening to . . .

It might be interesting to know Father Hesburgh’s views on John Paul’s papacy. You might also be interested to know that my son Thomas, class of ’72, was privileged to escort the then cardinal on a tour of Saint Mary’s hospital in Chicago where he worked.

Michael A. Thompson
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Trai and I loved your “Happy 90th” on Father Ted. Just the right tone.

Chan Le
Palm Springs, California

. . . and one of the ‘extraordinarily ordinary’
**For generations my family has had a profound connection to Notre Dame. Out of all the shared family experiences, the story closest to my heart is one involving Father Hesburgh. My uncle Tom Curry ’49 was left for dead during the Battle of the Bulge but was later discovered alive after the smoke cleared. He spent almost a year recuperating before being sent home, where he had to relearn how to read and write. Although he was not back to 100 percent, Notre Dame accepted Tom, and told my grandparents they would “take care of him.” He was assigned to Badin Hall and was aided there by a young rector—Father Hesburgh, who wrote my grandparents weekly, detailing the progress Uncle Tom was making and reassuring them they had made the right decision.

Aside from provoking thought and continuing to educate us, Notre Dame Magazine shares and celebrates the actions of members of the Notre Dame family. But some alumni who are “extraordinarily ordinary” never get into the magazine except for a death notice. The spring issue brought the sad news of the death of Mike McArdle ’78—a member of the Notre Dame family who was extraordinarily ordinary, who worked hard, loved his family, was a good citizen. He will be missed.

Fred Dalton ’79
West Hartford, Connecticut

Patron saint
**Your article on the renovated student health center notes that it is named after Saint Liam (aka Saint William of York) in honor of the father of the principal benefactor, William K. Warren Jr. Mr. Warren also was the owner of the race horse, Saint Liam, voted “Horse of the Year” in 2005 after winning almost $4.5 million. Hopefully (and prayerfully) Saint William of York will watch over the student health center with more attention than he did for his namesake horse, who was euthanized last fall after suffering a broken leg.

Ralph T. Smith ’55
Bemidji, Minnesota

Reading the article by Lawrence Clayton (“Missing in Action”) brought back memories of those days as a Marine officer in Vietnam, serving as platoon commander in the Da Nang area in 1965. We all believed there was a good reason for being in Vietnam—to stop Communism. I didn’t know Jim Egan, but I knew many officers like him, and I lost some fellow officers in the war as well. Forty-plus years later, I still vividly remember those days patrolling in the hills and jungles of South Vietnam, and I remember the beautiful children and people we were able to help in civil affairs and medical work. I was one of the lucky ones who returned home in one piece, but I still grieve over the loss of so many of our American servicemen who gave their lives for our country. As American servicemen, we knew America did not lose the war; our politicians pulled out because of pressures on the homefront.

One Vietnamese child had a special and huge impact on our family. We adopted her in 1975, and today she has her own family and is a schoolteacher. God works in many ways.

Bill Yaley ’63
Mariposa, California

**You may be interested to know there is another Notre Dame connection to the photo showing Jim Egan and his fellow officers on page 37 of the spring issue. Standing to the far right is 1st Lt Edward F. Hap, USMC, the beloved uncle of two ND grads, Andrea Hap Chustak ’89 and me. Lt. Hap, who grew up in East Chicago, Indiana, attended the University of Miami on a football scholarship and graduated with a business degree, was killed in action July 20, 1966, two weeks before his second tour of duty in Vietnam was to end. May God bless Major Egan, Uncle Eddie and all those who have given their lives in service to our country.

Tonia Hap Murphy ’84
Notre Dame

Global warming
** Bill McKibben’s piece (“We Might Get Arrested”) was one man’s story of his political activism to combat global warming, but it did not illuminate any facts related to the much-discussed issues regarding the phenomenon. The Earth is warming. It has been warming since about 1700, the middle of the last Ice Age. In fact, the Earth’s temperature history closely tracks the cycles of solar intensity. There are well-known mechanisms for anthropogenic contributions to global warming. There are also feedback mechanisms, which tend to negate these changes. The scientific issue is how to model all these phenomena, requiring massive computer models which, while good technical work, result in a 100-year forecast so fraught with uncertainties as to make results highly speculative. Many more aspects to the debate should be examined—the health implications of a warmer climate, the effect on the global food supply and biological diversity, among others—before anybody commits himself to political activism.

John C. Zink ’65, ’67M.S., ’70Ph.D.
Tulsa, Oklahoma

“Desperation has at least the virtue of clarity.” So reads the last line of Bill McKibben’s polemic on global warming. (“We Might Go To Jail.”) After reading the article I got the feeling that his clarity came more from religious zeal than from scientific convention. Your vision is always clearer when you sweep away the cloud of contradictory details.

When describing the day of a rally he states that “rain poured in Biblical quantities.” He asks, “what would Jesus drive?” He declares that SUV drivers should feel guilty. For him the whole environmental movement is a metaphor for religion—his conversion to the cause a spiritual epiphany. (Is it just a coincidence that Al Gore is a failed divinity school student?)

There is nothing wrong with religion and nothing wrong with passion, but the global climate change issue is about science, and we had better get it right. Carbon dioxide emissions are just one piece of a puzzle that includes solar warming, the uncertain effects of cloud formation, water vapor (the real 800-pound gorilla of greenhouse gases and one we can do little or nothing about), volcanic eruptions, and other natural phenomena that scientists haven’t got a handle on yet. If we oversimplify the problem we risk oversimplifying the solution, and that could have drastic socio-economic consequences for the whole world.

McKibben and other well-meaning zealots like him have to be taken seriously because they are dangerous. I am reminded of T. S. Elliot’s comment: “Half the harm that is done in the world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm—but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

Michael A. Freeman, MD, ’64
Sanger, California

Ref. Bill Mckibben’s article “we might get arrested”—do not agree with his conclusions on global warming, but I do think he should organize his next walk in China.

Jack Robinson ’57
via email

The VT tragedy
**My daughter, Kathleen, just finished her freshman year at Virginia Tech. As you can imagine, it was a terrible way to spend her first year in college. Last week, when I picked up Kathleen to bring her home for the summer, she took me to the VT student center, which is a pretty large, open building in the middle of campus. Every inch of wall space inside of this building is covered with condolence messages from universities all around the country, and international as well. It was overwhelming to see them: hundreds of posters and signs from so many schools. Kathleen took me over to the main office, and there, behind glass, is a framed message from Notre Dame. It was signed from every dorm, and included a photograph of the Grotto with orange and maroon candles, VT’s colors, for the victims. Forget football and all of its other prestige, I have never been prouder to be a alum of Notre Dame than I was at that moment.

Bill Shults ’78
Gaithersburg, Maryland

ND A to Z
I’ve just picked up a copy of the Spring 2007 issue, and I wanted to ask you to pass on my very high compliments to Barbie Sloan on the “ND A to Z” photos on the back cover. That’s an awesome piece of photographic work. I imagine that it took some time to get all those! Great work!

Darrell Hoberer, MCSE
San Antonio, Texas

Editor’s note: This was one of the many letters we received about the ND from A to Z photos on the back cover of the Spring 2007 issue. Many wanted to know if that cover would be released as a poster. The photographer, not the magazine, owns the rights to the photos. Currently we have no plans to turn it into a poster, but if that changes we will announce that on this website.

Some kudos . . . and some complaints
Thank you for the quality of this Spring’s issue of Notre Dame Magazine! From John Nagy’s “A Partnership with the Poor” to Anne Trubek’s “My Blooming Bed of Conflict,” the articles reflected heavy doses of emotional intelligence, id est, empathy, compassion, and caring for others and for nature. I shared with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hidalco County, Texas, this morning, the article by ND alumnus, Sonnie Hereford. In it, Mr. Hereford shared the support of the Unitarians in Hunstville, Alabama, in the early 1960’s, for black children who needed to prepare for being integrated into schools which had been exclusively restricted to only white children. As a small child, Sonnie Hereford was confronted at the school entrance by a formidable obstacle, in the person of Governor George Wallace. A few days later, he enrolled in the school, but he had been prepared by the Unitarian Play School, which he and three other black children attended with about a dozen white children. “The purpose of the pre-school was to enable us to get used to going to school together—to show that children were just children” he wrote in the magazine.

As a Notre Dame graduate student from 1949–1951, I joined a “Social Action Group” and received guidance from Rev. Kuntz, then director of the Jeunes Ouvriers Chretiens (JOCists), Young Christian Workers We brought ideas of Christ on social justice and the spiritual meaning of work to workplaces in South Bend, some to Studebaker and to Bendix. With several other JOCists, I worked at Drewey’s Brewery which was then operating in South Bend. I remember how we sat down with the workers at break time and discussed ideas, like the theme of this spring’s magazine, “What Am I Doing Here?". It was exciting. I also joined the Legion of Mary in South Bend and visited weekly with inmates at the Saint Joseph County Jail in South Bend. I was also blessed to meet my future wife, Clarice Mary Molenda, at Saint Mary’s College. We were married at Notre Dame in 1953. She died tragically of cancer in 1986. Sending my thanks for continuing to inspire us ND graduates.

Arthur O. Linskey ’51M.A.
via email

I wanted to write to thank you for the two most recent issues of Notre Dame Magazine. Your articles on Albert-László Barabási, Vittorio Hösle, profile of Rev. Jenkins, and article by Brad Gregory highlighted the excellence of scholarship and spirit that are fundamentally characteristic of a great Catholic university. I am both edified and encouraged by this new emphasis of your magazine on intellectual excellence, and on the mature appreciation of the Catholic faith and influence. I eagerly await your next issue.

Eileen Sheu ’96Ph.D.
via email

In addition to living this long and learning the earth is flat, I think the Spring 2007 issue of the ND Magazine is the best one ever published. Congratulations to all.

Mike Wales
via email

I am a big fan of ND Magazine, but I feel obliged to give you some feedback. I found your introduction to the Spring 2007 issue, on the inside front cover, to be inane. I cannot imagine why you thought any reader could possibly be interested in all this. I suggest that you ask your staff for some honest feedback.

On the other hand, I thoroughly appreciate your respectful, admiring but not overly gushy article on Father Hesburgh. Thank you.

Patrick J. Roache ’60, ’63M.A., ’68Ph.D.
via email

The spring issue is one of the best issues for me. It was a cover-to-cover issue. I appreciate the efforts that are made by all on the staff to produce this high quality magazine. Thank you.

R.B. Schoeneman ’59
via email

My only complaint is your using random, though high-quality in most cases, freelancers who have no ND connection. I live in Manhattan and am an editor of a weekly newspaper and am not at all parochial or a Notre Dame nut. But even someone like Bill McKibben is available other places. I can read all sorts of things like his online or in the Times Sunday Magazine or Harper’s.

Keep up the wonderful work.

Bill Gunlocke ’69
New York, New York

Your Spring 2007 issue was a good one, and I really enjoyed Emil T on the snow bench. I have only seen him racing around; can’t believe you got a still photo.

Also read your piece on the Hesburgh. You forgot to mention that half of the woman who ever visited ND fell in love with him. It is wonderful that he is doing so well.

Guy Weismantel ’58
via email

What am I doing here?
A great question that I have often asked myself but I don’t like the answer Father Nicholas Ayo gives. Learning to be human? If you take away his obligatory references to Jesus and God, you might think he is a humanist.

And is this not what is happening to Notre Dame? Oh we will keep the statues, the Basilica, and all the chapels but we will teach the students to become humanists. No thanks, I know enough about human nature to know or at least believe that there must be something better out there for me. Jesus did become human but only to make it possible for us to break free of our human nature. And that is what I am doing here.

Tom Wich ’63
Clarendon Hills, Illinois

Reflecting on a Reflection
Re: Sheila Sullivan McIntyre “Campus Visit” website Reflection: My grade school sweetheart also traveled from Saint Mary of the Woods for my freshman Fall dance in 1958. A few months later, she wrote she decided to join the convent. Either I or Notre Dame failed to facilitate that reunion.

John G. Kost ’62
Islamorada, Florida

Pasquerillas not the coolest
I lived in Grace from 1970 to 1974. That dorm along with Flanner was air-conditioned, using a chilled water system, so the statement in the Spring 2007 issue, “Also, the two Pasquerillas were the first dorms to have air conditioning,” by the author, Tim Dougherty ’07, is incorrect.

I know that Grace and Flanner are now administrative offices and part of a “failed experiment” (a phrase that really annoys me, I enjoyed my four years in Grace, as did the others I roomed with and stayed with for those years) but they were still dorms used for some 30+ years.

In have a particular attachment to the land that the Pasquerillas are built on. The practice field for the Grace football team was that area. I was part of the 1970 Division Champs, and also played until I injured my knee in 1972, right there on the practice field.

Really small trivia that I thought you should know.

Bob Farley ’74
Mineola, New York

I am a simple priest from Arkansas, and a priest friend who knows me to be very “pro life” gave me Notre Dame Magazine, Winter 2006–07. He pointed out the article “A View from the Classroom,” page 44, by Donald Kommers. Donald boasts about Notre Dame offering “all human learning.” He says, “the court (Supreme) has bound itself to methods of interpretation designed to keep judges from importing their personal moral and political views into their decisions.” He doesn’t seem concerned about truth. He says that lower law givers (states) are preferred to higher. I say not if they are bad laws. He prefers to dumb down God’s laws or radical truth to give way to learned (stupid) opinion.

Pope Benedict, early on, told us of the great evil of relativism. That becomes a “pick and choose” religion, or law, or anything. We have greater reason and truth, God’s law. The Church has struggled for two thousand years to find the truth in all things. Man today wants “to do his own thing.” Hence was have 20 thousand plus churches called Christian and some laws that don’t hear God’s truth. It has crept into our catechetics and our moral life. It is “do what you want,” the liberalism of today that had difficulty with objective truth. Our bishops and priests have become compromise wiffs, not sentinels for truth. I hope that the pope and bishops talk much more about this, but Satan is having his finest hour.

This becomes the Church’s most serious battle. It is fierce and has led Catholics in politics to be confused about protecting unborn life. We let the Democrat Party have abortion permitted on its platform. We will take the word of an atheist and not speak out for truth, all truth. We hide our faith. What would the Church look like if our Christians in Rome acted this way for the first 300 years? And if you deny sin you leave no room for forgiveness, correction, and truth.

Rev. Thomas W. Keller
Carlisle, Arkansas

Non-Cathoic scholars add depth
How Catholic the faculty? (Winter 2006–07 issue). I am pleased to see Notre Dame rank number 20 in the most recent U.S. News & World Report Rankings of Research Undergraduate Schools. In part, this ranking does reflect faculty quality which Notre Dame continues to enhance.

In Notre Dame’s quest to rank as one of the nation’s premier research universities, I think an openness to active recruitment of the world’s best scholars regardless of faith should strongly be considered. Many of the comparable schools (Ivy League) boast superior faculty members who espouse disparate faiths such as Judaism, Protestantism, and Eastern disciplines. I fear that many non-Catholic scholars who would help grow Notre Dame in academic strength fail to consider the school because of the limitations associated with its Catholic nature as well as its mission to hire a faculty consisting of at least 50 percent Catholics.

Many non-Catholic scholars would in fact add depth and focus to the Catholic dimension, and elevate the school’s reputation as a desirable, welcoming and valued place for world-class academic investigation. Let’s not let our vigor for a Catholic-centered university supplant the work Father Hesburgh achieved in moving the school away from provincialism and into a competitive world of academic prominence.

Paul J. Christo, MD, ’90
Baltimore, Maryland

Abortion common ground
I read the article on Common Ground (Summer 2005 issue) with great interest. You see, Loretto Wagner is my mother and I find reading about the history I have been fortunate to have lived very compelling. Many side bars could be told about those early days of Common Ground. Many have forged the path with which I lead my own battle against abortion rights on a very personal level. As the article stated, you may not have heard much about Common Ground in the news since 1999, sadly enough. However have no doubt, Loretto Wagner and her fellow visionaries continue to have a dramatic impact on how this complex issue is viewed.

She had a slogan for many years as she led thousands of Missourians to Washington, D.C. every January for the National March for Life. Each One Reach One! She meant for each and every person to reach out on a personal level and win the heart and mind of another individual and bring them with us to D.C. the following year. This same philosophy could apply to her work with Common Ground. If each of us would reach out and dare to trust that we could have a dialogue with someone of the opposite belief, what a difference we would make. She would often say how polarized our society was on this issue and that something had to be done to open dialogue. She felt that bettering the human condition in whatever way possible had to be at the heart of all intention. “Find areas that we can share a common belief and begin from that point", she said. This was the driving principle behind her work. Many of us still pursue this same type of dialogue when debating the issues with the people in our lives. Many hearts and minds have dared to step outside their once commonly held, preconceived ideas and embraced the belief that the unborn child is indeed entitled to live. Many, once polarized parties, have dared to trust. Conversion of hearts has been the prayer of the pro-life world for over 34 years now. Remembering the principles of Common Ground by opening up a dialogue is one small way to continually work towards conversion of heart and defend the unborn citizen among us. By each of us continuing to reach yet one more individual we can make a difference.

Thank you to each of these individuals that withstood so much for their willingness to trust that they could make a difference.

Catherine Wagner-Gansmann
Saint Louis, Missouri

Charge for Mass?
Sacred Heart is my favorite choice to attend Mass. It is a spiritual experience that brings many family memories back to me. I was sorry to hear of the storm damage, and was glad no one got hurt. ND made a good decision to check out the other spires.

In light of the new football ticket policy and the major increase in the building fund, I hope ND doesn’t start charging us to go to Mass.

Richard Dittoe ’65
Mishawaka, Indiana

Farewell Monologues
Congratulations to those who were successful in keeping the Vagina Monologues off campus this year. Can you imagine what our Blessed Mother must have thought the two times it was shown?

Let us not forget to preserve the dignity of her campus.

Marjorie Reagan
Lorain, Ohio