Letters to the Editor

Author: Readers

Cover Summer22

The letters we publish here are edited for space and are representative of those we receive. We print only those letters referring to an article in the most recent edition of the magazine, not those responding to letters or commenting on issues not addressed in the recent edition.


While I strongly agree with Professor Mary Ellen O’Connell (“Ukraine and the quest for peace”) that peace in Ukraine means a Russian withdrawal and Ukraine’s continued existence as a nation, I wish I shared her view that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the world’s largest regional organization, would be the “natural venue” for such peace talks. Moreover, I am skeptical that meaningful, long-lasting peace can be found as long as Vladimir Putin remains in power.

From 1981 to 2017, I worked at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (aka the Helsinki Commission), a U.S. government agency that contributes to the formulation and execution of U.S. policy toward the OSCE. The OSCE has been an invaluable multilateral forum for promoting dialogue and has done a great deal to advance human rights, democracy, security and cooperation among its 57 member states. For various reasons, however, including its large membership, the OSCE is not well suited for peace talks.

A much larger issue looms: While Moscow’s poor track record of compliance with OSCE principles is nothing new, with its full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, Russia has gone beyond all bounds, flagrantly violating every one of the 10 core OSCE principles enshrined in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. Putin’s barbaric, unjustified and unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine — the war crimes, the atrocities, the twisted, imperial, genocidal attempt to destroy the Ukrainian state and eradicate the Ukrainian nation as such — will make it difficult to achieve a negotiated settlement, much less any kind of a genuine, lasting peace.

Orest Deychakiwsky ’78

Charles Town, West Virginia


Women’s issues

I get that Nikole Hannah-Jones ’98 is an alumna (“A homecoming . . .”). But you don’t have to engage in disgraceful hagiography for a so-called journalist whose 1619 deconstructionist screed is rebutted not just by “conservatives and some historians.” Some of the most preeminent scholars on early America condemned the lies, falsehoods and distortions in her work and her sponsors at The New York Times — an erstwhile newspaper of record, but now just a leftist propaganda broadsheet underwriting an untruthful and divisive ideological crusade instead of an authentic, fact-based, historical undertaking. Cheerleading Hannah-Jones’ dishonest celebrity is an insult to Notre Dame Magazine readers, defacing an otherwise exceptional publication.

Geoffrey P. Hunt ’73

Brooklin, Maine


I am extremely disappointed with the inclusion of a photo of Amy Coney Barrett ’97J.D. on the back cover of the sisterhood issue. The overturn of Roe v. Wade is a monumental step backwards for the rights of women across the country, the antithesis of how the sisterhood of Notre Dame should be represented. Unfortunately, the mantra “proud to be ND” rings less true every day.

Teresa Rodriguez ’15



In light of the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and Notre Dame’s new link to that court due to Amy Coney Barrett, I found your theme of sisterhood and all that Notre Dame has done for women to be tone-deaf, hypocritical and offensive.

Lou LaGrange ’92

Berkeley, California


The summer issue dedicated to coeducation at Notre Dame only redoubled my belief that Notre Dame’s celebration of coeducation is, in the main, disingenuous. While the 1972 decision is lauded as benevolent and farsighted, from my perspective, it was a straightforward business decision. For Notre Dame to remain a competitive national university, no doubt it was obvious that male-only education was untenable.

The University’s grandiloquent celebration continues even as the Catholic Church continues to discriminate against women. Would there be a celebration of education that was no longer racially segregated if Black persons were still not permitted to be priests?

Patrick P. Spicer ’77

Churchville, Maryland


Interesting latest edition! Yet until the basic institution of Notre Dame, the Catholic Church, allows women to be leaders, the “roses and accolades” of women grads ring with hypocrisy.

Dave Henner ’73

Naguabo, Puerto Rico


It’s hard not to be struck by the pain expressed by Maggie Green Cambria (“Still Some Loose Threads”) and Anna Keating (“Callings Unanswered”) as they lament how the Catholic hierarchy refuses to give women an equal place with men. While I believe Catholic theology is beautiful, the Catholic hierarchy is a far removed and insulated institution, which shouldn’t be surprising. Its leadership is comprised of a small stratum of humanity — all men, who are mostly old and white — who live insulated lives, far removed from the people they serve. These men have replaced Jesus’ message of being inclusive with a stern and uncompromising dogmatic doctrine — and lots of hubris.

Jack D’Aurora ’77

Columbus, Ohio


I was heartened by your issue highlighting the contributions (and tribulations) of women at Notre Dame. However, your articles barely mention the relationship between Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College, an omission that I think reflects the current, less-than-ideal state of affairs between the two student bodies. As an ND alum and a parent of a current SMC student, I see how many of the ties between the schools have atrophied. I benefited greatly from the proximity of Saint Mary’s. For example, along with 15 or so fellow Domers, I sang in its Collegiate Choir. My daughter sings in the same choir, but now there are no ND students in it. I went to Ireland through SMC’s Ireland program, along with a dozen or so Domers, both men and women. Now I don’t believe any ND students go to Ireland through that program. I took classes at Saint Mary’s that were not offered at Notre Dame and benefited from many friends at both schools. It was a much richer experience for me to have them so closely linked.

It would be good to revive some of the ties between the schools. Notre Dame is a better institution with women in the student body. Yet women’s empowerment cannot stop at the gates of the campus.

Patrick Minick ’91

Juneau, Alaska


Anna Keating’s article is a full-throated, timely reminder that we still have much to do as a Church to atone for the neglect and demeaning of women over the centuries, surely not the intent of the Blessed Savior. So I was poised for a good read to arm my psyche for the day.

Then I reached the second paragraph in which the author tells a story about a bishop who had untoward hardening of the heart in not taking time to baptize a young man recommended to him. She contends that “adult converts . . . must be baptized by a bishop.” As a graduate of Notre Dame’s liturgy program and a major Catholic seminary, I knew this to be, well, nonsense — if only by counting the number of wonderful converts I have been privileged to baptize over my 36 years of priesthood.

The author’s contention put me on guard. I was thinking of readers who accept such incorrect statements on their face. As a peace offering to Ms. Keating, I believe she meant “Confirmation” rather than Baptism to be the sacrament so described. But even so, priests are regularly delegated to confirm in the name of the ordinary minister, the bishop.

After a very fine page devoted to the history of “women deacons” in the Church in the early centuries, she offers what I term “the COVID argument,” that many folks have died without Anointing of the Sick during the pandemic because of a lack of ministers. I remind the reader that the Church relies on Scripture — “send for the priests” in James 5:14 — to anoint. We must revisit this limitation of a sacrament we all need. However, the argument has nothing to do with ordaining women deacons, since only priests are permitted to anoint or offer a final communion just before death.

I long for the day when all of women’s gifts may be welcomed in the Church with equal dignity. We are still falling short liturgically and administratively, but with God hope remains. I comment only to assist those who may think we have made little progress toward that end. 

Rev. Pike Thomas ’98M.A.

Shreveport, Louisiana


I was encouraged to see the retrospective on women at Notre Dame. As a Saint Mary’s student, I participated in the co-ex program in 1965, taking a class in television production not available at Saint Mary’s. I was the only woman in the class and was mostly ignored by the class and professor. Because I had to be placed somewhere on the production team, I was assigned to be “the weather girl.” It was an interesting experience, although I had hoped to learn a lot more than I did. I went on to a brief career in media producing Coca-Cola commercials.

In 1972, I returned to campus as a graduate student and partnered with a faculty member to open a women’s center — a small room in the library. Shortly afterward, photos of dead fetuses were taped on the window, and it didn’t seem worth continuing. During Christmas break a female graduate student from France was expelled for having her boyfriend in the graduate dorm with her. As an undergrad, I witnessed many male undergrads have women in their rooms with no such consequence. Such a double standard was shocking to me.

I have seen changes that are encouraging. At an alumni meeting in the early 2000s, a visiting priest from Notre Dame reported on changes since the pedophile scandal, including the creation of a lay board involved in selecting candidates for the seminary. When I asked if any women were on the board, I heard a large groan from the audience. Some years later at reunion, I attended a presentation about Notre Dame’s participation in a Muslim/Christian dialogue around the topic of women. Slides showed the participants were mostly imams and priests. No woman was depicted. When I asked, “How productive is a dialogue about women when no women are present?” the audience burst into applause. I was relieved to receive the support.

Alana McGrattan ’74M.A.

Corrales, New Mexico


Notre Dame has now updated the last two lines of the Victory March to include “daughters” in the refrain but has not yet updated the first line — “Rally sons of Notre Dame” — which has been outdated at least since Notre Dame became coed in 1972. Why not complete the update with the lyric “Rally all for Notre Dame”? Referring to all Notre Dame athletes and teams (and even to all members of the ND family, including fans) would be much more appropriate. Let’s not wait another 50 years to complete improvements to the fight song.

Greg McKillop ’72

Piermont, New York


I found great consolation in reading Mary McGreevy’s beautiful piece, “A Benevolence of Friends.” We lost our dear friend, Pat Kennedy ’78, on Easter Sunday, April 2, 2022, to COVID-19. But I must tell Mary there is another happily-ever-after-postscript she missed. It is a mystery why God took Sue Pawlecki under such painful circumstances, but Mary will be with Sue again someday — as we will be together with Pat again — in heaven. As I learned from Mary, when we head to our 45th reunion without Pat next June, the warmth of Notre Dame and our classmates will help us heal.

Paul Coppola ’78

Washington, D.C.


It has been a great pleasure to observe the female Domers who have indeed enhanced the deep meaning of Notre Dame. These students are among the best in college education and their accomplishments shine brightly on the Notre Dame reputation.

Thomas Vecchione, M.D. ’63

San Diego


I enjoyed Maraya Steadman’s article on confronting middle age. Although our journeys couldn’t be more different, we arrived at the same place — on the cusp of being one tough kooky. Which brings me to Mr. Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine (Mary Ellen O’Connell article). It’s going to take a tough cookie to stand up to Putin. We need a decisive resolution of this war for the people of Ukraine and their allies. We must stand together and cut off our exports to Russia and accept no imports from Russia — food, energy, technology and services. Reshuffle the world economy. Climate change principles will have to wait until this crisis is resolved. This is harsh treatment for the Russian people, but necessary to prevent China from following suit with Taiwan and a disintegration of world order. And tying together a third article in the sisterhood issue, I shed a tear for the passing of Sue Pawlecki, whom I did not know but for whom I felt a kindred spirit, beyond the same first names. The excerpt from her favorite poem, “lthaka” by Constantine Cavafy. resonated with me in the hope that my journey is indeed a long one. It feels, in some ways, like it is just getting started — the tough cookie part.

Sue Lang ’79

Arlington, Virginia


Last summer my wife and I hosted a young ND student, a woman who served as an intern for a local home that serves low-income women and their children. She will graduate 64(!) years after I did, but we were like brother and sister.

One of the main topics was how blessedly different ND is, now that it is co-ed. She did have a little trouble relating to how passionate I was about Father Hesburgh and “the change” until I gave her umpteen examples of improvements. I attended ND from 1956 until 1960, returned to pick up aPh.D. in 1967-1970, then chaired the Saint Mary’s sociology department from 1977 until 1984, when I left for Georgetown Med. I knew ND. And I knew that I did not want my son going to the University of the ’50s and ’60s.

My experiences while teaching at Columbia, Penn State and Purdue had shown that my misgivings about “early ND” were correct. Too insulated and inculcated in testosterone dripping machismo. I did not want my son going to single sex ND and fortunately, being so acquainted with the school’s dorms, camps, professor’s sons and homes, he found ND boring and went to Georgetown instead.

Michael McKee ’60, ’75Ph.D.

Charlottesville, Virginia


Although all articles are worthy of praise, the back cover with the twelve photos and page 95 identifications is a tour-de-force itself. For me, the back cover and identifications were a superb summary of the issue.

What a wonderful issue!

Drew L. Kershen ’66

Norman, Oklahoma


My husband graduated from ND a few years before women were admitted to the University. We both grew up in Irish Catholic families whose dream was to have a son attend Notre Dame. For my husband, who had an

outstanding academic resume, that dream came true and he graduated Maxima Cum Laude in 1970. We talked both then and now about women attending ND. He always expressed his thought that women should be admitted to the university, hopefully a joint venture with St. Mary’s.

We both have read your magazine over the years but have found it becoming increasingly secularistic and anti-Catholic. As a woman (I know the definition of a woman) who is a mother and grandmother and a woman of the ’70s who had a career in a large corporation during that time, as well as a career after my children were older, I can honestly say my abilities were what made me succeed not my female sex. The never-ending complaints of “so-called” feminists about the discrimination of women makes them sound more like crybabies today. Since a lot of them don’t know what a woman is—man up and compete!

This issue of the magazine is full of whining women who even today cannot admit they are equal to male students because they don’t really want equality, they want to dominate. The icing on the cake though was finding out Nikole Hannah-Jones is a graduate. How proud ND must be of what they produced in this hate-filled woman who makes it her mission to destroy our country?

Notre Dame has betrayed its Catholic origins. Our Lady must look down from the Golden Dome with tears in her eyes at its destruction.

Had enough — please cancel our subscription immediately.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Bradley III

Laconia, New Hampshire


Margaret Fosmoe's article (“At 50 years”) and Maggie Green Cambria’s article (“Still Some Loose Threads”) both recounted the discomfort and humiliation felt by Notre Dame women who were subject to the “rating” of their physical appearance at the South Dining Hall. What surprised me was that this unfortunate practice, which began in the fall of 1972, continued for more than a decade. Given the obvious damage caused by this indefensible behavior, I feel compelled to ask that you consider republishing my letter of apology that appeared in the Winter 2011 edition.

Long overdue apology

Brendan O'Shaughnessy's article ("The Excellently, Extraordinary, Iconic Emil T.") brought back some fond memories for me ... particularly those dreaded Friday morning quizzes. However, it wasn't the story's primary focus that moved me to write this letter, but rather the memories of Julie Silliman '78.

I was particularly impacted by her memory of "the humiliation of entering the dining hall to tables full of men holding placards rating each woman's appearance."

While I wasn't one of those holding the placards, I did join in with many others in encouraging what clearly was inappropriate and juvenile behavior.

Years later I too remember what we did to the female members of that first co-ed class and am embarrassed by what I did and what I didn't do at the time. I can't imagine any of us men who have had daughters or nieces attend Notre Dame over the years would have wanted them to endure the same treatment that some or all of these brave female members of the first co-ed class had to endure.

I'd like to extend my sincere apologies to Julie Silliman and all of her fellow female classmates who were likewise impacted by this inappropriate behavior and would like to thank all of them for the important contribution they made in bringing a vibrant and healthy co-educational environment to Notre Dame.

Brian O’Herlihy ’76

Wayland, Massachusetts


First of all I want to say thank you for the summer issue of Notre Dame Magazine and its focus on women through the years at Notre Dame and their stories and contributions.

However, there is one omission which I want to point out, especially since Kerry Temple wrote that you are still “listening and learning.”

No mention was made of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at Notre Dame of which I was a part from the summer of 1961 until graduation with my master’s degree in August of 1962. The MAT program was unique in that besides getting graduate credits in education you got graduate credits in your field, such as history, mathematics, English or art, which was my field. As far as I know only Johns Hopkins offered this graduate program. I was awarded a Ford Foundation Grant and chose Notre Dame mostly because Ivan Mestrovic was on the faculty and sculpture was my interest and I was especially impressed with his work. Unfortunately, Maestro died soon after I arrived.

This was the second year of offering the MAT program to women and men. I think there were seven or eight women in the first year and about the same number in ours. As far as I know we were the first year of women who got not only student IDs but tickets in the student section for the football games.

We received mixed receptions on campus. I was thrown off the tennis courts daily until I finally spotted Fr. Hesburgh and he put a stop to this. Academically, some professors were out right rude, others were welcoming, as was mine in the art department. Robert Leader could not have been more accepting of me, nor a better instructor.

There were problems, for sure: only three restrooms on campus which prompted us to, have a guy clear out a men’s room for our use several times a day. We had to find housing nearby, and I had to find a way to raise the $1,600 not covered by my scholarship. I did this by washing and ironing shirts for the men at the university — for 25 cents a shirt.

Catharine Stewart-Roache ’62M.A.

Socorro, New Mexico


The Sisterhood issue of the Notre Dame Magazine was a literary feat. The issue's theme took some real cajones, something literally quite common at Notre Dame. You reminisced about 50 years of coeducation at Notre Dame, starting with the 1972-73 academic year. The issue contained more than one reference to Billy Jean King defeating Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes in 1973. Know what other big thing happened that year? Roe v. Wade.

Yet, I only found one tangential reference to this newly dead right. I saw in the article on the Women’s Care Center this kibble: “The decisions you make about this pregnancy, about . . . what your next step is, are yours alone to make . . .” You see, I live in Idaho, where women’s “decisions” about their pregnancies are about to become like the Lord of the Rings when the Fellowship faced “but one choice” to descend into the Mines of Moria. When there is one way forward, Gandalf, it is never a “choice.” The way forward is especially ominous in Idaho, where at least one lawmaker is on record thinking that if a woman swallowed a camera-equipped pill, it would end up in her uterus. Does this mean he thinks women poop out babies? I don’t know, but that guy and men like him get to make decisions about my body now. Literally anything is possible!

Instead of addressing how the U.S. Supreme Court aborted a human right recognized by international law, this magazine chose to highlight international law in another comer of the world where the U.S. might look better by comparison. On the issue’s back cover, you depicted Amy Coney Barrett as part of some ND “sisterhood,” not even a month after she had amputated the rights of a much larger sisterhood. Instead of mentioning this irony — the proverbial elephant in your issue — you chose to publish a story about an actual elephant. The mental gymnastics required to celebrate women while neglecting to acknowledge our country — for the first time ever — eliminated a constitutional right, a right that concerns women so intimately, just blew my tiny, simple female mind. Well done, you!

I wrote a couple of limericks for how I fancy the brainstorming process went for this issue's theme, given the publication's content so ridiculously juxtaposed the times in which I find myself.


Squashing dames’ choice won’t be good

We’ve backslid from where rights once stood

So how do we distract

From the rights they retract

Ah, let’s celebrate sisterhood!


The anti-lass SCOTUS did bite

Let’s do ND’s part to ease spite

Women’s praises we will croon

With awards, they will swoon

And before long they’ll say, “Huh? What right?”


I could keep going, but honestly the limericks might just get dirtier.

I have never given money to this magazine. A yearly subscription costs $30. I graduated from Notre Dame in 2002. Twenty years of subscriptions is $600. I am donating that $600-in the name of the Notre Dame Magazine, so indirectly you can make a real difference-to the following pro-women institutions: National Abortion Federation, The Yellowhammer Fund. Avow, NARAL Pro-Choice America

Don’t worry, I totally asked permission from my husband before spending this money — if I can’t be trusted to make decisions about my own body, why in the world should I be trusted with any financial decisions? After all, my uterus does float around my body, occasionally causing hysteria, the byproduct of which is some really erratic decision-making.

Also, please take me off of your list. I do not want this magazine anymore. It’s probably that crazy floating uterus talking again, but I have a feeling I won’t regret this decision.

Katie Bilodeau ’02

Moscow, Idaho


Stop sending me copies of your magazine, which I never sought no agreed to. The last straw was your issue focusing on women, which was sent out directly after Amy Coney Barrett voted to take away rights from women.

Mary K. Curran

Fairport, New York


Mallory McMorrow should have been among the photos on the back of this issue of ND women!  It is also extremely disgusting to see Amy Coney Barrett. I am embarrassed every time she is connected to this once forward-moving University. Ted Hesburgh’s legacy is being erased.

Mary Jane Reilly


Please take my name off of the distribution list for Notre Dame Magazine. If you would like to know why, it’s the cheerleading for Amy Coney Barrett. Father Hesburgh must be rolling in his grave. What a disgrace.

Michael Krafve ’97

Seattle, Washington