Letters to the Editor

Author: Readers

Measuring holiness

In his editor’s column, “Seeking the Holy,” Kerry Temple bemoans too little attention being “paid to the ineffable, the numinous, and how to seek the divine and where to find the true and deep spiritual sustenance all humans crave.” These are good thoughts but mostly impossible to achieve in these days of secular, science-based, nonmystical existence. I do not believe that most of us are capable of recapturing those “holy” thoughts and feelings from our Catholic grade-school days. Beliefs nowadays need to be grounded in objective, verifiable truths, or they have no resounding impact on how we live a life.

Dan Hasley ’69



Zahm zoo

When reading “Zahm Hall ends its 84-year run as a traditional residence hall” — because of its “troubling culture” that included “vandalism . . . disrespect for University officials . . . high turnovers in rectors and staff,” etc. — I thought, well, that is exactly the Zahm Hall I knew 55 years ago. Even back in the early ’60s, Zahm was known as the Mad House.

Back then, halls for sophomores through seniors where reassigned each year, and grade-point averages determined the selection order. Those with bad grades got whatever was left. And Zahm was always at the bottom of the barrel. If your grades were low or you had disciplinary problems, were just one step from being forced off campus or about to be kicked out of school, Zahm was the last refuge.

Michael Sweeney ’65

Franklin, Tennessee


Objective standards

In reading “Fresh approaches” about new admissions strategies, I have concern that the “test-optional” feature of this current strategy may promote a dilution in the academic aptitude of future Notre Dame classes. As explained by Don Bishop, associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment, test-optional admissions standards, which will be in place until at least 2023 (and possibly be made permanent), allow applicants to submit their SAT or ACT scores at their discretion. The article reveals that Mr. Bishop has long had serious doubts about the purported “overuse” of such standardized tests in the admissions process. He also decries the unfairness of test-prep courses, which he implies give economically advantaged applicants a leg up in the admissions process.

Yet those familiar with the relevant literature should know that the SAT and ACT have had a remarkably accurate record for predicting future academic success at the college level for over six decades. They protect the qualified applicant as well as the academic stature and culture of the relevant institution. I sincerely hope that those who administer Notre Dame’s admissions policy will continue to recognize the paramount importance of recruiting the best and brightest.

Paul R. Curran ’69

The Villages, Florida


A beautiful memory

With his article, “A Girl in Summer,” Mel Livatino has done it yet again, carefully drilling into our inner selves to describe a special memory or feeling and its significance to the human condition. Who of us has not had such a dream memory, or memories, that, in Livatino’s words, “are ancient and primitive things with lives of their own”? No matter the trying, challenging, sad, demanding times we experience and endure, our hearts retain those special dreams in an impenetrable lockbox — and during moments of visitation give us that extra special feeling of warmth.

Paul Zalesky ’69

East Greenwich, Connecticut


“A Girl in Summer,” written in five parts, consists of 48 paragraphs. But they are not paragraphs; they are stanzas. And this writing is not an essay; it is a poem. Thank you for publishing it.

Noel James Augustyn ’74J.D.

Chevy Chase, Maryland


All the mothers

Thank you for “Hitting a New Mother Lode” about mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sociological evidence validates the feelings my mom-friends and I have expressed to each other over the past 18 months, and I hope non-moms, including husbands, partners and bosses, start to realize this is a real problem that will not get better until we all work together to solve it.

Sarah (Wladecki) Beiswanger ’07

Fort Wayne, Indiana


“Hitting a New Mother Load” is derivative, unfocused and offensive. It fails to convey the extent of recent reporting and academic research about the impact of COVID on working mothers. It offers no new take on the situation but misses the obvious opportunity to explore how Catholicism as a cultural institution and facet of personal identity shapes the norms and expectations for some portion of the population. Moreover, the entire piece is constructed from a very specific, yet unacknowledged, point of view: that of a white, heterosexual, cisgendered, married woman of means. What of the vast spectrum of experiences across race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or even marital status?

Kimberly Spayd ’01

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania


Been in Rome

“When in Rome” brought so many good vibes and memories of my year there. The acquisition of knowledge ought not to be the sole purpose of a year in Rome; knowledge is quickly forgotten and remains fragmental. One goes to Rome to experience a deepening of spirit — something that can never be lost. Your mind is open, your soul expands and you become not only a better architect but a better person. You can’t go on living the same way after spending a year there.

Francisco “Paco” Alonso ’78

San Juan, Puerto Rico


I need to get this off my chest. It nags me that Notre Dame doesn’t have its facts straight regarding the start of the Rome program. The first class to go to Rome for a year was in 1969-70. I was a member of that class, and we agreed to be the pilot class to set up the program. Our accommodations were in the Hotel Raganelli on Via Aurelia about a mile west of the Vatican and our studio space was the unheated basement parking area of an unfinished apartment building around the corner from the Raganelli.

The class consisted of 37 fourth-year architecture students and four third-year art students. During our second semester, another five or six fifth-year students joined us.

John J. Manning Jr. ’71

Spokane Valley, Washington


Those virtual tickets

Every member of my family who has attended a Notre Dame football game has held on to the physical tickets as a fond memory. In some cases, we have passed them down from one generation to another. Other family members have framed some as a reminder of great, great memories and family ties. I’m sure the politically correct Athletic Department retail establishment will give us multiple reasons [for now using mobile ticketing], such as “to ensure your safety” or “in an effort to fight global warming” or other such malarkey. Give us a break — this is all about making and saving money for good ol’ Notre Dame. Given the price the University now charges for a watered-down schedule and “can’t win the big one” mediocrity, I’m certain there is enough profit to actually give people a physical ticket without charging extra.

Scott Braley ’70



“The Enigmatic Anton-Hermann Chroust”

I took a jurisprudence course from Professor Chroust in my third year of law school. My relationship with him was strictly as a student. We interacted in the classroom, and we at times spoke about substantive matters after class. The general view among my classmates was that Professor Chroust was dedicated to his work as an educator and to Notre Dame. His teaching of American jurisprudence was scholarly and straightforward. Notably missing from your article was any reference to evaluations from his students, fellow faculty members and administrators.


The purpose of your article is unclear. Was it to attack the character of a deceased man with no family and no one to defend him or to clarify his record? The “evidence” in your article would not stand up to a basic cross-exam.

Norman J. Lerum ’71, ’74J.D.



Professor Chroust lived behind us when I was growing up and I well remember the red Porsche Targa roaring by and his Olympic gold medal story — not the only self-promoting claim he circulated — but no talk of Nazi connections. The authors do miss a simple explanation for why he hid his 1950 divorce. Notre Dame contracts for lay teachers of that time required they exhibit “manly” behavior and causes for dismissal included sedition and divorce. The divorce clause was enforced; I remember the talk among faculty in the early 1960s when the first divorced Catholic professor was allowed to stay on. 

Damian Leader ’76 

McLean, Virginia


As a philosophy major, I took Professor Chroust’s class on ancient philosophy in 1958 or 1959. Much of the time was spent on Plato. I found his lectures engrossing. I remember he took sharp exception to Plato’s ideas expressed in the Republic. He thought them too authoritarian for good governance.

My second recollection is a conversation I had with Father Chester Soleta, CSC, in the faculty lounge of Moreau Seminary in 1968. Father related how Tony had been spending long hours of the evening and the night on the steps in front of South Dining Hall talking to students about violent social protests. He tried to explain to them what disastrous consequences violent social protest had in Germany during the 1930s. He feared a possible repetition here in America. I know nothing of what Tony Chroust was in the 1930s and ’40s, but I hope my remarks help others know who Anton-Hermann Chroust was in the 1950s and ’60s.

Rev. Leonard Paul ’60

Suttons Bay, Michigan


On the first evening of Christmas break in 1981, I took a freshman from Grace Hall over to South Dining Hall for supper because he had been in the infirmary and had missed his flight home. The campus was quite deserted and cold, but in the warmth of the dining hall we sat with Professor Anton Chroust. That December evening, I asked Professor Chroust if he had won a gold medal in the Olympics for water polo as questioned in the magazine. He said, “Yes,” then added, “Do you know why I play water polo? Because you don’t sweat.” A delightful deflection (possibly) from the truth of his answer.

During our supper we landed on the subject of communism, and Professor Chroust turned to the freshman and said, “You know why communism is bad? When Karl Marx was a little boy, his Mama never said to him, ‘Charlie, you be a good boy, I’ll give you a cookie.’” I will never forget the Anton Chroust take on communism, especially since he slipped in this remark, “I call [Marx] ‘Charlie’ to help you understand.” The explanation was tailored for the freshman.

Over time, I have appreciated that comment more and more because it showed Chroust at his academic best — dumbing down a complicated concept with a teachable anecdote. I bet he was amazing in the classroom. I certainly will never forget him.

Was he a Nazi sympathizer? Perhaps a man should be judged not by what he has valued as a young man but rather by what he later becomes. On the other hand, of course, there is the matter of the innocent millions executed by the Nazis, and no amount of amnesia can excuse that horror.

Brother George Klawitter, CSC, ’63

Notre Dame, Indiana


The article on Anton Chroust is the best thing I’ve read in the magazine. In 1972, I took A.C.’s “Ancient Greece.” One exam — the final. Roll never taken. But I never cut, asked timid questions, floundered on the final, got a C+ or B-. I had studied hard. Miffed, I went to see A.C. in the pay caf. I explained my low grade. He looked at me, raised his eyebrows, shook his head and said, “Oh no. No. A mistake.” In a week, the grade became A-.

Dan Wesolowski ’74

Goleta, California