Letters to the Editor

Author: Readers

Letters from print issue

Sister Jean’s dream

Beyond the women of Farley Hall, Sister Jean Lenz (“A Room with a View”) also ministered to junior faculty. Many times in my first years of teaching, her gentle humor and model of applied good sense helped me navigate the eddies of administrators and the shoals of undergraduates. And then there were the dreams. My favorite was the one she told me about when I mentioned a room scheduling problem I had encountered. She told me that her regular eve-of-classes dream was that she would be assigned to teach a standard 35-student theology class — in the football stadium. Of course, Sister Jean would have filled the stadium with cheering fans if the registrar had lifted the 35-student limit.

Charles Primus
Waterford, Conneticut

Imperiled priesthood?

“The Priesthood in Peril” is an example of what I view as secular Catholicism, a creeping mist now apparently on campus. That is: Only we direct the outcomes, and the sacrament of activism is the effective sign of true belief. No doubt the visible church in the not-too-distant future will be different from what it is now, just as today’s visible church is unlike that of many centuries past. But if one truly trusts in Christ’s promise, one knows the Holy Spirit will be the key player in any substantive changes — not musing theologians, not polling sociologists, not even enlightened editors.

Ronald J. Datovech ’69, ’70
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

You report that orthodoxy is on the upswing among young seminarians, yet you consider “the priesthood in peril.” You couldn’t be more wrong. Fervent seminarians are saving the priesthood — and the entire church in America — from the peril of apostasy it has been sinking into for four decades. When 91 percent of American Catholics don’t believe the mortal sin of contraception is a mortal sin, a pastoral crisis is clearly at hand. The priesthood is in peril — eternal peril — when Catholics en masse are being led astray morally and theologically.

Rebecca L. Kroeger ’95
Arlington, Virginia

Although our newly minted clergy are focused on the more traditional forms of devotion, one area of their seminary training was either lacking or not absorbed. They may be theologically sound, but they appear to have developed no pastoral skills. “Call me Father Smith; there’ll be none of that Father Jim stuff.” To my mind, this creates a hierarchical barrier between clergy and laity. Additionally, their homilies tend to deal exclusively with orthodoxy and traditional ecclesiology with no exhortation to live that faith through good works. As a mainstream Catholic with great respect for the church’s message, I see a real need for the clergy to bring Christ’s message to a personal level, one that inspires us to Christian action in our communities.

John F. Murray ’56, ’58
Woodbridge, Virginia

Spirituality or Catholicism?

“Stairways to Heaven” espouses all the reasons it is good to be a Christian but not to be Catholic. For me, it is the exclusionary message that has become the issue. Why can’t divorce be recognized as a sorrow whose victims deserve comfort and support rather than excommunication? Why is birth control that prevents conception from occurring a sin? And why are women considered less capable of sustaining and preaching the word of God than men? I don’t believe these are novelty issues of our times. They have the weight and reasoning of moral certitudes. More to the point, do I need the institution to act as an intermediary for my relationship with God? The rise of “spiritualism” reflects the need to find examples of faith in individuals rather than a church whose proclamations seem wrongheaded.

Mary Ryan Amato ’80
Wilmette, Illinois

Lawrence Cunningham argues that the only way to achieve real spirituality is through the Catholic faith. Though he lists an “array of avenues” within the church from which one may choose for “deepening the life of the spirit,” he feels the need to ridicule and dismiss any non-Catholic spiritual experience. Reading books on self-improvement, pursuing athletic endeavors and attending retreats are, according to the professor, just yuppie selfishness. This is ridiculous and smacks of religious arrogance. Any criticism called for, regarding the pursuit of spirituality, might more appropriately be aimed at the church to the extent it has been unable or unwilling to provide that for which many are yearning.

Kevin P. Morrissey ’86
Woodbridge, Virginia

Understanding Islam

What is it Father Patrick Gaffney wants? In “Breach of Faith” he says understanding would narrow the divide between America and Islam. But the divide begins with the difference between freedom and religious tyranny, and the attacks of 9-11 provided a very well-honed image of that division. There are faults in Islamic countries but they are not America’s fault. Evil men are stirring resentment caused by despotic regimes throughout the Islamic crescent for their own purpose.

William D. Hohmann ’58
Tucson, Arizona

Although I consider myself well-informed concerning today’s news, I disagree with Father Gaffney in his statement that “legions of imams, muftis, sheiks and scholars condemned the attacks and emphasized that such indiscriminate violence is entirely incompatible with the ethical teachings of Islam.” At the most, I heard two or perhaps three Muslims denounce the attacks and they were not of the top echelon of Islam. Where and when did these legions speak out?

Mary Kay Davies
Notre Dame, Indiana

Web extra letters

‘The Priesthood in Peril’ Response

“The Priesthood in Peril” by John Monczunski (autumn 2002 issue) was a ray of hope. It’s the first article I’ve come across in Notre Dame Magazine that acknowledges the crisis of faith in the Catholic Church because of the flight from tradition. This article brings out the confused thinking in the Church resulting from the ambiguous teachings from Vatican II.

The Church has always been successful and growing when She has fulfilled Her duty of teaching the Divine Truth found in the precious “Deposit of Faith” that Christ left with Peter and the Apostles. This tradition is what draws men to the priesthood. This tradition gives them the desire, missionary spirit, assurance and life commitment needed to be priests. If bishops and priests show true leadership the laity will follow. The idea that the Church must be democratic and give the laity what they want is ridiculous. People in the pews want the true Church, not something the majority demand. After all, Catholics should, and most probably do, understand that Divine Truths are above human reason. We have to believe what Christ told the Apostles before His Ascension, that what they were to teach to the whole world would be bound in Heaven and that the Church would last till the end of time.

In one of Bishop Fulton Sheen’s great books he wrote about the church going through a period of decline about every 500 years and then making a great comeback to tradition. This period of modernism and the disastrous fruits of Vatican II have hopefully run their course and we will again begin a period of renewal by returning to the tradition of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Then plenty of good men will come to the priesthood.

Clayton (Bud) Hauschild ’58
Hastings, Michigan

John Monczunski’s article, “The Priesthood in Peril” (Autumn 2002), reminds me of Chicken Little’s “The sky is falling.” Back in the 1960s the scholarly Club of Rome and gurus like Erlich predicted that within 30 or 40 years, millions upon millions of people would be dying of starvation, the planet would be running out of resources and nations would be at war with each other for survival. Yet after 30 or 40 years we’re still here, and the planet hasn’t collapsed yet. It’s probably doing better than before. Similarly, Monczunski paints a devastating and horrendous scenario for the Catholic Church in the United States in the coming years given the diminishing number of priests. Chicken Little, where are you when we need you?

“Get rid of priestly celibacy and we’ll have lots of priests,” seems to be the cure-all, according to some people. I have the impression that it always comes down to the pelvic issues: celibacy, contraception, abortion, homosexuality, divorce, all things related to sex in one way or another. Celibacy is not the cause of fewer vocations, of priestly defections or of clergy sexual abuse, just as marriage is not the cause of adultery. The abolition of celibacy and the ordination of women is not the solution. The solution is fidelity to the person of Christ and to Holy Mother Church.

By the way, many Protestant denominations, as well as Orthodox Churches and the Jewish Movement, are suffering from a severe lack of candidates.

Monczunski gives the impression that the Church Universal is undergoing this priestly vocation problem. He forgets that the American Church is not the whole Church. The United States is not the world, as many Americans arrogantly think. Seminary people have been telling me that recently they notice an increase in priestly candidates. I believe the recent clergy scandals will bring out the best in generous young men who want to be shepherds after the heart of Christ. We’re getting a better quality of candidates. Things will turn around; they always have. When things get tough, the tough get going. Stay tuned.

Rev. Gino Dalpiaz, C.S.
Stone Park, Illinois

I felt compelled to contribute a view held by many ND grads and professors (sadly, seldom published in your magazine) to Notre Dame’s dialogue on the crisis in the priesthood. An inherent problem exists in a sociologist’s view of any issue pertaining to the Church because it can’t help but focus solely on the human. This presents a lopsided view of what is happening in the Church today because as Catholics, we either believe (or should believe) that the Church is “one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 771.) If we neglect the divine, the action of the Holy Spirit in guiding the Church, we run the risk of misinterpreting the signs of the times.

Christ has always raised up great saints in times of crisis to renew His Church. I have no doubt that saints such as Francis of Assisi were very misunderstood and seen as threats to the Church much like the so-called young conservative priests described in your article. Many in the Notre Dame community do a great disservice to Catholics when they reflexively dismiss as irrelevant influences which on the surface seem “pre-Vatican II” and out of touch with the way most American Catholics think about issues such as women priests, married clergy, etc. Pope John Paul II has addressed all of these issues in ways that acknowledge the gifts of all people, regardless of their sex, and has proposed answers that are in keeping with Christ’s teachings and the truths of our faith. So much of the insightful, prescient and prolific writings of our current pope have yet to bear fruit in many spheres of American Catholic culture because either clergy or those responsible for teaching the faith have failed to seriously engage these teachings. What many who have never read JP II fail to realize is that his vision for the Church gives flesh to the documents of Vatican II and is a veritable road map for the course of our modern Church. When speaking of the growth in vocations of the younger generation of priests, I suggest that you call them “radical” rather than “conservative,” since their mission is to renew the Church by bringing it back to its roots.

P.S. I seriously question the validity of a fact asserted by Assistant Professor of sociology David Yamane that most Catholics do not leave the Church for another denomination, but simple stop practicing. Given the statistics floated by conservative Protestant sects and the Morman Church that the greatest number among their converts are fallen-away Catholics, I find this very suspect. My own experience of friends who have left the Catholic church has been that most flock to more conservative Bible based Christian churches.

Amy (Dunlap) Dickas ’90
Omaha, Nebraska

Thank you for the article on priesthood in the autumn 2002 issue. In it a “word and communion” liturgy established by the bishops is mentioned and the article further says: “The service resembles a Mass in every respect except there is no consecration of the Eucharist.” To further understand the differences between these liturgies and the dangers to the Church of word and communion services, I would refer you to an article by Professor Nathan Mitchell, who is a member of the University of Notre Dame Center for Pastoral Leadership, twelfth floor of the library. Mitchell’s latest article on this is in the September 2002 issue of Worship magazine.

May I just say that the basic difference between “Sunday Worship in the Absence of a Priest” and the Mass is that there is no Eucharistic prayer at all in the services of word and communion. (And this is important for Notre Dame Catholics to know and understand. Some of us learned it at Notre Dame.) In this big prayer, which is part of the Mass, the priest and people praise God for all that God has done and thank God for Jesus Christ. They remember Jesus Christ, his life and ministry and his death and resurrection. As part of the remembering, the priest asks the Holy Spirit to help him consecrate the offered bread and wine as the very Body and Blood of Christ. Where there is no Eucharistic prayer, there is no Eucharist; instead, the people gather, read scripture and receive communion from a previous Eucharist. That is what this difference is about; it is not just the consecration that is missing. There is no one to pray the big prayer and to say the words when a priest is not there. The function of the church radically changes, and some would say, loses its meaning as a sacramental church.

M.E.B. Picard ’96M.A.
Lyndhurst, Ohio

I shared the Autumn 2002 edition with a friend who was particularly interested in the article entitled “The Priesthood in Peril.” He offered the enclosed response, written in a style that encourages one to imagine how our early Church fathers may have responded to the present crisis. Perhaps we all need to get back to basics where our faith is concerned.

Maureen R. Wolenski
Venetia, Pennsylvania

“First Letter to the American Roman (Catholic) Church”

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with great pain that I learn of the difficulties facing our Brethren in the United States of America (Notre Dame Magazine, “The Priesthood in Peril” by John Monczunski). The shortages in ranks and the disdain for the Royal Priesthood cause me much distress. We must, however, remember the teachings of Christ and especially, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

What, pray tell, has actually caused this aversion to the Holy Priesthood? I note in your article that 60 percent of your faithful are actually willing to publicly state that they are in favor of the murder of innocent children. Surely, if 60 percent are willing to make such a public admission, how many more of the faithful are merely discreet enough to not admit such but act otherwise? Is it not therefore logical to ask, how many of the Hierarchs and Priests are in favor of murder or possibly worse yet are willing to stay silent while the sons and daughters of their own faithful practice murder? Christ taught, “Do not murder” (Mark 10:19). You not only have murderers in your midst but you have those who are not willing to stand up for Truth and speak out against them. For the Traditions teach, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

I am also saddened by the focus on the church’s traditions rather than The Church’s Traditions. The Church is the Bride of Christ. Neither Christ nor the Holy Fathers were concerned whether priests were married or not. By examining the minutia of church traditions you ignore the fact that the Priesthood must by faithful to the Teachings of Christ and the Holy Fathers. (I was appalled to learn that, at one of your great centers of higher learning, the administration was afraid to ask that its teachers of religion profess a belief in Christ and His Teachings). Only through the faithfulness of the Hierarchs and the Priests can the laity follow and grow in Spiritual wealth. Do not be concerned about the laity’s material wealth or level of secular education. These are of this earth and will not endure. If we follow Christ all things are possible.

Your Brother in Christ,

A message from Afghanistan

After reading “Breach of Faith” by Patrick Gaffney, CSC, in the Autumn 2002 issue of Notre Dame Magazine that my dutiful wife forwarded here to me, I wondered to myself: What could I tell my fellow Domers about Afghanistan that they have not seen on the news?

Within minutes there was too much to include in a brief letter.

Suffice to say though, that since our soldiers here are only seldom engaged by anti-coalition forces, we are, thankfully, suffering few injuries. Therefore, my medical mission here is largely shifted toward providing primary care to local Afghans in areas where medical care is scarce. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to treat several hundred local Afghans right in their villages.

The deplorable conditions under which many of the Afghan people struggle daily caught me somewhat by surprise. What surprised me even more than this was that many of the Afghan villagers I have met have never heard of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, nor September 11th. They are an extremely impoverished, largely illiterate and long-suffering people. Clearly, the Afghan people are not our enemy. They are victims of radical influences here on a much larger scale than we have been in the United States. I say this despite having lost a cousin of mine in the WTC on 9/11/01.

Regardless of your political views, I can promise you two things. First, if you were to come to this country for even one day and see the incredible courage, dedication and resolve of our American soldiers here, you would be immensely proud of your country and the work being done here on your behalf. Second, even a very brief visit here would profoundly renew your appreciation of the freedoms we enjoy, the beauty of our fine land, and the incredible foresight the founders of our nation had in designing our way of life.

CPT David Doyle, Jr., MD ’88
CTF82 Surgeon
Operation Enduring Freedom

Islamic muddle

I can’t seem to get past this sentence in Father Gaffney’s piece (“Breah of Faith,” autumn 2002 issue):

“In fact, as some insightful analysts of contemporary terrorism point out, suicide bombings and similar draconian assaults typically arise from a desperate effort to win acknowledgment, to gain respect and to recover a semblance of human engagement.”

The good father may be a fellow in the University’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, but there’s not a McNugget’s worth of sense in that statement.

Mike Murphy ’71

Father Gaffney’s “Breach of Faith” article in the Autumn 2002 issue is an insult to Americans and presumably the University and his Order. It is filled with long suffering liberal non-sense and inaccuracies in order to arrive at not truth, but rather an ideological position.

For example, you state that “legions of imams, muftis, sheiks and scholars condemned the attacks..” Well, name one. And even if you can name one, you should be able to name thousands of them. The fact is that not one — not a single, solitary one — major Muslim cleric anywhere in the world, including the United States, denounced the attacks.

Further, “suicide bombings . . . arise from a desperate effort to win acknowledgment . . .” Who do you think you’re kidding? The Palestinians in the person of Yasser Arafat thumbed their noses at the creation of a Palestinian state, offered by the Israeli government under Ehud Barak just a few years ago.

And your outrageous comment “. . . to force a moral accountability . . .” Moral? Killings of civilians?

Americans, in our own imperfect way, militantly promote freedom and democracy for all peoples. To somehow compare our vision of society with the repressive, backward intolerance of Muslim states is ludicrous.

I agree that the millions of people living in Muslim countries have human grievances, but let them direct their fury at the real cause — their own governments.

Bruce S. Tomcik
North Olmsted, Ohio

Father Patrick Gaffney spoils his passionate and otherwise nuanced discussion of Muslim attitudes and concerns (“Breach of Faith”) with his concluding reference to the France-Algeria soccer match in October 2001. One can only hope that that sport does not reflect European social reality. Rampant racism has been breaking out in stadiums across the continent, directed against immigrant players and fans. It has recently resulted in sanctions against individual clubs (such as PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands) and national teams (Slovakia). The angry, over-the-top catcalls of a few Algerian supporters pale by comparison. One could just as well mention Zidane Zinedine, the lionized star of the French national squad and Real Madrid, as evidence of North African assimilation.

Father Gaffney is on much more solid ground when he writes of the “havens of misery” — which include blighted neighborhoods in Europe’s inner cities and post-industrial suburbs — in which too many Muslims are trapped. The “deep and desperate cry of disappointment” that one hears throughout the Islamic world often takes the very form of George Bush’s initial question on 9/11: Why do they hate us? Overwhelmingly peaceful, Muslims have more right to pose that question than the president.

Patrick Ireland ’83
American University of Beirut
Beirut, Lebanon

I too often despair at a growingly godless self-centered and immoral American Society. However Father Gaffney’s implied conclusion in “Breach of Faith” that if we understand that from the point of view of Islam it helps justify the terrorist actions against America just doesn’t wash.

Bill Reilly ’60
Succasunna, New Jersey

View from Latin America

The article “Saving El Salvador” (autumn 2002 issue) is a well-documented and insightful look at the trials and seemingly endless plight of the Salvadoran people. Jorge Zablah provides hope and assistance to the most deserving of the Latin American people. Yes, indeed. “God will ultimately ask each one of us, what did we do with all the things He gave us — how did we use them?”

I am the co-founder of the Organization for Guatemalan Orphans that has been serving the needs of abandoned children in Guatemala since 1989. A few years ago, while attending a dinner in Guatemala, I was “listening” to a Spanish conversation and overheard Lake Attilan and Notre Dame. I politely asked, “Con permiso, Que esta el connexion entre Notre Dame y Lake Attilan?” The answer was as follows: A couple present at the dinner owned a home on Lake Attilan, a beautiful 4-hour drive from Guatemala City. Every Saturday during the fall, the Mayans from the villages surrounding the lake, sporting their traditional attire, meet at a home that has satellite television and watch Notre Dame football. This is the only team they follow. The Irish in Guatemala . . . and so I suppose my path to Guatemala has become even more colorful . . . blue and gold that is. Go Irish!

Barryanne Shapiro
West Hyannisport, Massachusetts

Balance of spirituality and religion

Never have I read a clearer distinction between spirituality and religion than in the lucid and theologically sound writings of Prof. Lawrence Cunningham (“Stairways to Heaven,” autumn 2002 issue) . His words ring with a unique truth here in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where I have studied Spanish with four Holy Cross Volunteers, preparing for ministry in South America. Not only does their spirituality “spill over into more loving relationships with others who are not a part of their own nurturing community” but their commitment to religion propels them to the barrios of Chile and Peru. There they give witness to their deep conviction that genuine spirituality and honest religion lead to the service of others.

Their spirituality, nurtured in family, strengthened at Notre Dame and sustained by the Church, has widened their circle of concern and sent them to the aid of the poor to welcome them to the Kingdom of God…. on earth, as it is in heaven. The balance of spirituality and religion is alive and well in Jennifer, Elizabeth, Coleen and Shannon! Notre Dame can take great pride in these four graduates of the Class of 2002.

Carol Beairsto
RGS Cochabamba, Bolivia

I am spiritual but not religious. Lawrence Cunningham didn’t ask me what that means to me and, based on his article, I doubt he asked anyone else; rather, he published a piece that presents a strong example of why people today, particularly young people, are spiritual, but not religious — a piece that reflects the narcissism and self-righteousness that drives people away from religious institutions.

To me religion means rules, pedophiles and politics. It means that within my county a priest will not marry me outside of a physical Catholic church. It means priests that abuse children and, worse yet, the liars who protect them. It means being bound to a pope and his politics on matters such as abortion rights, birth control, female priests and homosexuality. In my spiritual life I strive to “possess the spirit of Christ and live under the impulse of that life giving force.”

Religion is more concerned about a stairway to heaven. What a classic and expected response — rather than look inward at the Catholic church to see why people are turning away, to see how it is failing to serve its people, Cunningham looks outward and belittles with a dash of wit, a sprinkling of caricature and a poor understanding of modern disillusionment.

Jeremy W. Jaskunas M.D. ’97

New words for Victory March?

We enjoyed very much the excerpt from Sister Jean Lenz’s book, Loyal Sons and Daughters that appeared in the autumn 2002 issue. The title reminded us of a version of the Fight Song many students (mostly women) were singing just after coeducation began. In this version the words of the last line were altered slightly to say:

“While her loyal sons and daughters march on to victory.”

This version fits nicely into the rhythm of the music. Isn’t it time we changed the official words of the Fight Song to recognize the achievements and contributions of the women of Notre Dame both on and off the athletic fields?

Jean Benedett-Matich ’79 and Nick Matich ’81, ’82M.S.
McLean, Virginia

This relates to the article “A Better Fight Song” in the Autumn 2002 edition.

“An Even Better Fight Song” – by changing a few words, ND can update our Victory March and make it accurate, inclusive of all members of the ND family, and even more meaningful:

— first line: “Rally all of Notre Dame”

— last line: “While her loyal sons and daughters march on to victory”

Greg McKillop, ’72
Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts

An anti-football bias

Why is it that Richard Conklin cannot communicate any idea without mentioning how ashamed Notre Dame should be of football? I have learned over the past several years that any time his name comes up, it is usually accompanied by a dismissive comment about Notre Dame football, followed by a lecture on the things that ND fans should really learn to appreciate. This weekend, though, I have really maxed out on Conklin’s anti-football fetish.

It started as I was watching the bonus footage on my new Rudy DVD, where Mr. Conklin explained how official Notre Dame participated in the film only because it’s not really a football movie. (Ha!) Then, in his autumn 2002 article about his years of speaking at Universal Notre Dame nights, he takes three potshots at Notre Dame’s historic association with football. First, he states that the nights were started 80 years ago to balance the “media-driven” football-centric coverage of Notre Dame. I don’t thing anything 80 years ago could be described as “media-driven” — the first Notre Dame football game wasn’t even broadcast on radio until 1924. Second, Conklin lovingly recalls the former regional director who at Notre Dame Nights could skillfully shut down all football talk early in the evening — sounds like a fun guy. Lastly, Mr. Conklin expresses his gratitude for the disappearance of the football smoker. All this in a two page article.

I am sure that a man with Mr. Conklin’s sense of history has an appreciation for the tremendous good football has done for Notre Dame over the years — financially and otherwise. If there was a time that football risked overshadowing Notre Dame’s academic achievements, that time is past. After several years of frustration, we are finally having another great football season. Why can’t Mr. Conklin just let us enjoy it?

Todd Tucker ’90
Valparaiso Indiana

Gernes edges wrong way?

Has Sonia Gernes been looking for religious experience in the wrong place and the wrong way, in exactly a way that blocks access to the possible empiricism she pursues? (“The Edge of Eternity,” autumn 2002) The abstract survival of the “soul,” the immersion in unearthly visions of light, the thirst for the afterlife and its verification, the passing of plastic sensuality into the immobility of heavenly beauty — these aspirations define orphic, gnostic and perhaps platonic experience: the orphic path to the artifice of eternity is always through disease, delirium, dream, the phantasmagoria of desire. They constitute the quixotism of the spirituality of death; they are fair game to the ironist who, like Thomas Mann and perhaps Katherine Porter, judges these experiences by a contrasted integration of body, psyche, spirit, a path back to life and morality.

A poet of Sonia Gernes’ gifts has surely had experiences of the eternal in the continuity of actual time in which death is assimilated in a way contrary to disintegration. As it is, her “choice” of belief seems an arbitrary imposition upon a refractory experience. Does the quality of “belief” in, say, Eliot’s Four Quartets or Proust, strike her as “uncertain” when opposed to the credences (if they are not ironies) of Katherine Porter? There are other flowers than those of the lovely judas-tree of Orpheus.

Joseph F. Ryan ’59
Yarmouthport, Massachusetts

The Brothers and Carroll Hall

Congratulations to Mike Connolly and Brigid Sweeney for their fine Hall Portrait of Carroll Hall (autumn 2002 issue). As a CSC brother, I lived there from 1963 till the Brothers sold it (and its vast acreage) to the University in 1966. I was in the last group of Brother “scholastics” to live in what was then called Dujarie Hall and while there learned several bits of information about Notre Dame, as the University was still considered a community effort.

The KKK had considerable influence in the Indiana legislature, where it supported legislation making lakes over a certain size public domain. Notre Dame had such a lake, and its then president, Father Sorin, ordered that lake cut in half. Thus was born both Saint Mary’s and Saint Joseph’s lakes.

Notre Dame brick is a specific building item. It is an off-white brick such as has been used in all the University’s structures. During the late 1800s, the original bricks were made from the clay in Notre Dame’s lakes. As the clay was harvested from areas near the edges of the lakes, the lakes’ shorelines receded further back, leaving occasional small islands, some 15-feet off the current shore. These small islands are still visible, especially on the south and west shores of Saint Mary’s lake. The lake clay was then baked and Notre Dame brick was created. It was used to build several of the university’s buildings, including: the Main Building, the church, Washington Hall; both Saint Michael’s Laundry and the old Field house (both of which have since been demolished); Columba Hall (CSC Brothers community house on campus) and Corby Hall (CSC priests community house on campus); the Earth Sciences building; and the following dorms: Saint Edward’s, Sorin, Badin and Dujarie/Carroll Hall.

The latest issue of ND Alumni: The Newsletter for Notre Dame Alumni announced on page 1 that there would be a new inn (Coming in 2005: The Notre Dame Inn.") It showed a picture of the Dome, library and church tower as seen from the west bank of Saint Mary’s Lake, a view I had from my window in what was then called Dujarie Hall. All I could think was: Dujarie must be coming down to make way for the inn. If so- perhaps saving a few bricks might be worth consideration, as some alumni might want original Notre Dame brick. [Editor’s note: The hotel project is currently on hold.]

John Ober ’67, ’72M.A.
Point Lookout, New York

I wish to sincerely thank you for the wonderful article on page 10 of your autumn 2002 issue ("Hall Portrait: Carroll). I live with Brother Edward Sniatecki, your 100-year-old brother featured at old Dujarie Hall. The thing that impressed me most was the space you gave to the Brothers of Holy Cross, who came to this campus in 1842. Much of that article was about us, and this is appreciated. I know for sure that Brother Edward spent years in our archives and could give you much information re: The brothers of Holy Cross and their influecen and living for all these years, at this famous university.

Brother Thomas Corcoran, CSC

‘A Visit Before Dying’ strikes home

Your autumn 2002 article, “A Visit Before Dying,” touched a note with me. I was introduced to the mystique of Notre Dame through a close friend, Tom Brennan ’88. We served in the Navy together, and Tom was a typically rabid Domer. In fact, his zeal actually turned me (a now-former Wolverine fan) off Notre Dame! But our friendship eventually drew me to Notre Dame Law School.

In my second year of law school, Tom was dying of cancer. A fan to the end, Tom watched the Navy-ND game and, through the pain, heard his name announced as prayers were offered for him at Notre Dame Stadium. Later that week, Tom received the game ball signed by Lou Holtz and Ron Powlus.

Tom never watched another ND game from an earthly perspective, but left behind a close-knit family connected by bonds of blood, Navy and Notre Dame. The deathbed support he received from our alma mater speaks loudly of our faith in action. “God, Country, Notre Dame,” is not a cozy sound-byte!

Juan R. Balboa ’96J.D.
Grand Rapids, Michigan

More on Domer Gabreski

Your comments about Frank Gabreski (“Domers in the News,” autumn 2002 issue) were too sparse. We were classmates and sat next to each other in physics.

He shot down more than 40 planes in WWII. He had 7 kills in Korea. He visited me here in Johnstown as well as in Boston when I was a resident at the Boston City Hospital. We had long conversations on each visit. He and Vic Damone were in Boston selling war bonds.

He was not shot down over Poland. He was flying too low and his propellor hit the ground. When he was captured, the Germans told him he was the guy they were looking for. He was responsible for the flying tactics in Korea. The Korean and Russian pilots were so poor that he instructed his men not to shoot any more down. He saw no need to waste human life.

He was summoned to Washington for a congressional hearing. He told them that the fighter planes needed no more armor, but needed more maneuverability. He had some other serious differences with the legislators who froze his rank. He could not keep and educate his nine children on the military salary — he called then the nine G’s. He left the service thereafter. He was left out of Tom Brokaw’s book and I chastised Brokaw for that omission.

Someone wondered about the age of Ray Holden. He delivered my oldest child in 1950 at Georgetown University Hospital. He must have been 45 or 50 at that time.

George W. Katter, M.D. ’41
Johnstown, Pennsylvania

‘Homosexual Crisis’ not accurate

Just received the Autumn 2002 issue of Notre Dame Magazine. The first thing I always read is Ted Weber’s class notes on my class, 1945. Then I read a few before that and after that because of my 13 semesters at ND. In reading the Class of 1943 notes today, I was shocked and dismayed at Paul Fisher’s note about John Lanahan sending press clippings about “the homosexual crisis in the Church.”

There is no evidence available that it is a “homosexual crisis.” There is plenty of evidence that the crisis is “molestation of children by priests and the scandal of bishops knowingly transferring known offenders.” Indeed it may well be that some of the transgressors are heterosexuals.

I suggest that Fisher and Lanahan and the editors of Notre Dame Magazine be more careful about blaming one group of people on which the jury is still out.

Gene Moore ’45
Attleboro, Massachusetts

Sex abuse scandal

John Cavadini’s response (summer 2002 issue) to the sexual abuse scandal in the Church at first seemed fresh air to me. “Admit the honest truth and” . . . Alas, the proper second term of the conjunction should have been “engage in honest self-examination” rather than “get on with the salvage work.”

Cavadini comes round soon enough to argue media bias (the Agnew defense), that the problem is mostly history, that Protestants are equally corrupt, and that nuns working with damaged babies are ignored. Fine, though irrelevant. But when he concludes that “to some extent of course, the church is an historical organization, empirically visible” as opposed to ’The Body of Christ . . . not even in principle visible," I have to question. “A tree is known by the fruit it bears.” We cannot weigh self-sacrificing nuns against sexually exploitative priests as if some well-chosen calculus is the extent of our self-examination. The Church has earned less authority, more humility.

Truly, the media loves a scandal. Ask Jimmy Swaggart or Jim and Tammy Faye. No matter which side of the road when the mighty fall. And a scandal is juicy in proportion to the fall. The Church’s claims are quite extraordinary — Keys of the Kingdom and so forth. So far to fall. Does one, day after day, literally partake of the body and blood of Jesus Christ and live a life of depravity?

My suggestion is that first we examine the claims of the church. We will find these claims profound, powerful, definitive, demanding. Why then, does the normal curve describe us so well — a few depraved at one end, a few holy at the other, and the most of us squirming between? The same curve that seems to apply to Protestants and, indeed, to humanity at large. Bluntly, if the Church has a better grasp of Truth, why isn’t it obvious? Could it be that for all our words, we are no more transformed than the next people?

Cavadini take pains to distinguish between the views of both conservative and liberal Catholics, pointing out the strengths and weakness of both arguments. More words, more politics. When might we dare to actually be caressed by the Gospels, to become, in fact, radical? Exploitative priests are but a symptom of the dis-ease, the mere headlines of the scandal. The body of the scandal consists of the gap between the claims of the Church and its manifestations. This fissure pertains only signally to bad priests, but fundamentally to you and me. Do we live what we claim to believe? I suggest that if we did, we would be astonishing and the world would truly be redeemed. The Body of Christ is not invisible.

If we glance at the Hindus and the politics of their caste system, we should readily be appalled But if they appealed to reincarnation and the workings of karma, we might reasonably pause-until we noticed that those in the upper castes were frequently enough scoundrels, while the lower classes often enough numbered what we might call saints among them. At that point we might grasp the religious machinery for what it is-political, hierarchical, a matter of privilege and power.. And us? Inquisitors, ring-bearers, Fathers who lust for their children, with claims of authenticity and authority which mostly equates faith in the Church with faith in God.

Dare we speak of a higher standard? Do we possess any higher truth or better authority, or are we are in as much need of mercy as any old sinner of whatever denomination or no denomination at all? Which face do we present? Do we own our all-too-human failings and accept our well-earned humility or do we continue our bluff? We do not hold all the aces, never did. We can still be the Body of Christ. The Church as “an historical organization, empirically visible” might do well to vacate Rome and move to Peoria.

I once spent a football weekend at beautiful Moreau Seminary across the lake from our Golden Dome. I noticed that the Mexican nuns who cleaned and cooked for the priests and seminarians spoke only a few words of English, but “cheer, cheer”ed for Old Notre Dame as if their salvation depended on a select mob of mostly unrepresentative, frequently Protestant, 20-year-olds. Not entirely the same as caring for babes wrapped in the darkness of (to quote the greatest ND theologian) mere being.

But, I had a fantasy not so long ago. That the pope would walk as a pilgrim from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. No Popemobile, no guards, Swiss or otherwise. When the pope fell another would be elected to take his place. And another, and another and another. A journey of faith and hope and love. An acceptance of the cross and of the scandal of the cross. And I dreamed that in this way people would be moved as the Apostles were moved. I dreamed a new crusade based on suffering and love, not on politics and conquest. The church has earned less authority and more humility, and that is a good thing. Admit so. Begin today.

Richard Mendola, ’74

Not the way it is

I am greatly displeased with the decision of the magazine editorial staff to publish the article “Telling it Like It Is” in the summer 2002 edition. The article purports to expose how the media influences the public understanding of the news by the manner it is presented. Smack in the middle of this enlightenment the author dares to engage in his own campaign of misinformation by declaring that the issue of abortion was “long ago settled in the courts, if not the hearts and minds of many”. He further opines that even raising the issue to a politician is just an easy avenue to controversy for a lazy reporter.

I for one believe in my heart and mind that the Catholic church’s position on the sanctity of life is truth and that it is our role as Catholic Christians to advance that position. It saddens me to think that the most widely circulated mouthpiece of Our Lady’s University would permit this kind of duplicity in attacking such a fundamental element of our church’s teaching. The author himself exemplifies the lazy approach to dealing with the issue of abortion by casting it off as a lost cause. Why indeed should we be concerned with distorted reporting of issues if there are no absolute truths that are worth fighting for?

Nick Winnike ’77
Villa Hills, Kentucky

Monologues still rankles

This letter must address the last two issues of Notre Dame Magazine. I was appalled to read that The Vagina Monologues had appeared on campus sponsored by the Program for Gender Studies. As a mother of three ND graduates of the 1980s, it saddens me to think Notre Dame has stooped so low in so many areas. I do believe that the Program for Gender Studies could have made their point — whatever it may have been — in some other way that would not have been as crude. Has morality taken a back seat to adapting to today’s society at Notre Dame? I agree with Norm Benoska ’64, shame on the University, shame on the Program of Gender Studies, shame on Rev. Malloy.

In the same issue (Summer 2002), I read about the four football players accused of raping a female student. This is not the Notre Dame from which our children graduated, not is it the Notre Dame I want my gifted grandchildren to attend. It seems someone made the decision to compromise values for the scoreboard and morality for money.

However, in the Autumn 2002 issue (“A Visit Before Dying”) I am naively hopeful that the Notre Dame “mystique,” which enabled many young people to die courageously, will remain. Please do not let us lose it, or forget that Notre Dame means Our Lady, referring to the Mother of God. Would she have shown The Vagina Monologues or admitted good football players who would subsequently rape women?

Marie C. Heinle
Beaver, Pennsylvania

Irish Brigade flag

I just read your article on the “Irish brigade flag” in the summer 2002 issue. I didn’t know if this would be of interest to your readers, but last August I started the first group to reenact the 63rd New York.

My web site for the 63rd New York is www.geocities.com/firstvirginia/63rdNY. On this site I have the rosters of the men who served, and, for many, where they were born in Ireland. I’ve also included information on Notre Dame’s new book on the 63rd New York’s flag as links. I need to add a bio yet on Father James Dillon of Notre Dame as the Chaplain of the 63rd New York.

I would be pleased to answer any questions your readers may have. My e-mail is canonballz@hotmail.com and my address is is 9201 Oak River Dr., Petersburg, VA 23803.

Bill Rose
Petersburg, Virginia