What is your vocation? To be a priest, a married person, a firefighter, a nun, a small business owner, a teacher, a single person? The problem with answers like this is that they keep us at a safe distance from the living God who cannot be neatly packaged into an idea. “To be called,” rather, suggests something deeper, more spiritual and much more personal. We are called by a voice, which we all instinctively know at the level of the gut and which invites us out of the stifling patterns of our daily lives into the fresh air of a new day. Yes, our vocation ends up looking like something – maybe it involves a uniform or a lifestyle or a profession or a relationship – but those things change. The point is God, and God calls us through all sorts of experiences so that the barnacles might be scraped from our souls and we might draw ever closer to God. Therefore, the next time someone asks us, “What is your vocation?” let’s respond honestly, “My vocation is to constantly take a risk on the Father, and the rest is details.” Though we may be misunderstood or made to feel inadequate, like Jesus, our souls will nevertheless be at peace because we have spoken the truth, as indeed, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (Jn 18:37). Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
FATHER CORNELIUS HAGERTY, CSC (1885-1977)
LOYAL TO ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, HOLY CROSS AND HIS PRIESTHOOD
Father Hagerty was born in South Bend, IN, in 1885. He attended St. Patrick parish grade school and Holy Cross Seminary, entering the novitiate in 1903. Graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1906, he did graduate work in theology at Holy Cross College in Washington, DC and was ordained in 1909 at Notre Dame. He then returned to Washington where he received his doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University in 1911. He taught philosophy at Notre Dame from 1911 to 1921, then at the University of Portland for three years before returning to Notre Dame for the years 1924-1926. After nine years of teaching at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, he once again returned to Notre Dame in 1935 where he lived and worked for the remainder of his life. He ministered as teacher and prefect, chaplain to the Holy Cross Brothers at both Dujarié Hall and Columba Hall, and, eventually, retiring at Holy Cross House.
Even in retirement, “Father Con” maintained his many interests, especially in apologetics and dogma and was the author of many articles and several books, notably a scholarly treatise on the Blessed Trinity and one on the problem of evil. For a good number of years, he sent as his Christmas greetings to relatives and friends his latest essay on some spiritual or intellectual subject.
All of his religious life, Father Hagerty was known for his vigorous, sometimes acerbic, defense and promulgation of his views on matters pertaining to doctrine and to Thomistic philosophy. His reputation as a debater and a possessor of a gift for repartee preceded and followed him. Not many came out victorious in a verbal confrontation with Con Hagerty.
In accord with Father Hagerty’s wishes, there was only one celebrant at his funeral Mass, which was offered at Moreau Seminary by Bishop Leo Pursley: the Mass and hymns were in Latin—according to one observer, “The participants sang in Latin as if they had been singing it for years.” In the homily by Bishop Pursley, he quoted a passage from the Book of Wisdom which appropriately summed Hagerty’s life: “My course grows longer and the river of my days draws nearer to the sea. Therefore, will I now make true doctrine shine forth to all, and enlighten all who hope in the Lord. …Behold, I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek the truth.” (Adapted from Province Review, October 7, 1977)
Did you know that the word positive literally means “that which has been placed” before you? That positive thinking is really the willingness to accept all that is given to us? So while we might scour the shelves of our local library for the perfect self-help book or tune in daily to our favorite TV therapist in order to find the key to positive living, we must go beyond techniques and learn how to be spiritual people who are constantly receptive to the gift of life. The irony is that we need to be negative in this process. We need to learn “to say no” to all of that which is not gift, all of that which is fear-based clinging, all of that which comes from the evil one. Trying to be positive without this negative move just does not work. In such a circumstance everything blends together and we stand for nothing. It is thus no wonder that the Christic pattern of our salvation is dying and rising. The radical positivity of resurrectional life – a state of eternally accepting the truth – is only ever made possible through the radical negativity of Christ’s cross – an unceasing commitment to self-denial. May our hearts thus become tables which are capable of receiving all that is presented to us precisely because they are already altars of sacrifice. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
“You’re as sick as your secrets” is a phrase that you may have heard in counseling or in the world of self-help. It is a powerful reminder that our interior lives are like icebergs – we are only aware of a fraction of the truth of ourselves, yet our decisions are largely dictated by the subconscious mass beneath the surface. The discipline of the spiritual life is the primary lever for bringing shame, fear, and general darkness into the light of a new day. Indeed, a regular prayer life, a schedule of worship, frequent spiritual direction, ascetic practices, sacramental confession, journaling, and working with a professional can all be helpful ways of getting in touch with and befriending our deep self. Such a risk transforms our so-called secrets into memories, learning experiences, times when we missed the mark, and wisdom to be shared with others. Spiritual sickness is gradually replaced by spiritual health as God comes to dwell again in that newly uncluttered place within. Let’s be disciples of Jesus who tell the truth with our lives. Let’s experience the freedom of returning to a state of childlike simplicity and authenticity. Let’s never confuse secrets for intimacy again. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
BROTHER MAXIMUS (ALBINAS) CZYZEWSKI, CSC (1881-1963)
Faithfully for the Sake of the Lord
Brother Maximus was born in Talkuny, Lithuania. He came to the United States when he was fifteen to meet his uncle Father Czyzewski, CSC, the pastor of St. Hedwig Church in South Bend, IN. He entered Holy Cross in 1897. He taught at St. Hedwig School and worked in the Notre Dame bookstore until 1905. He was assigned to teach at Sacred Heart College in Watertown, WI for one year and then for another year at Cathedral High School in Fort Wayne. In 1907, Maximus was sent to Holy Trinity Grammar School in Chicago, IL.
After three years he began teaching at Holy Trinity High School and remained there for the next fifty-four years. He was principal of the school from 1917-1920. He studied nights at both Loyola and DePaul Universities and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1924. The new high school building was opened in 1928, and Brother Maximus was once again appointed principal until 1934.
He faithfully taught his courses in Polish and Latin and wrote a history of the Polish-American settlement in South Bend, IN. Retiring in 1961, he went to Columba Hall where he edified all by doing menial tasks such as dusting and cleaning the dining room. His was a total life of service, as for him all work was a sacred prayer.
What we call “setting goals” is often an exercise in psychological projection. From a young age we are taught to pour our desires out onto our mental canvas, and then keep that image or idea in our mind’s eye as we progress through life until we finally achieve what we want. Nevertheless, at some point we grow weary of this game as we find ourselves stuck in a stifling cycle of chasing after things that we have imposed on ourselves! The spiritual life truly begins when our desire no longer gets attached to people, places or things, but is instead oriented unambiguously to the infinite and eternal God. When God is our singular object – which both Jesus (Mt 22:37-38) and the First Commandment (Ex 20:2-3) insist upon – we are drawn into a life of mystery, risk and truth (cf. Jn 21:18). Indeed, we go from the anxious and fearful fist that clings (cf. Gen 3:6) to the open hand that receives in gratitude (cf. Mt 26:26). The psychological space that once housed our precious goals now becomes the net (Mt 13:37-50) that simply catches the graces revealed to us. Let’s make the decision this very day to set God as the unique goal of our lives and in doing so adopt his Cross as the unique way of ending (Jn 19:30) goals that compete. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
SISTER EHRENTRUDE (MARY MAGDALEN) CZYZEWSKI, CSC (1901-1987)
A Hero of the Cross Born in Russia
Sister M. Ehrentrude was born in 1901 in Crimea (Sudak) Russia. Her father, Anthony Czyzewski, was an officer in the army, and her mother, Helen Carol Kotkas, was a housewife. Mary grew up in South Bend, Indiana. The family was a member of Saint Hedwig Parish, and Mary attended the parish school.
Mary Magdalen entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1918 and received the Holy Habit on August 4, taking the religious name Sister M. Ehrentrude. She pronounced her first vows on August 15, 1920 and her final vows on August 15, 1923. The Czyzewski family of South Bend, Indiana contributed many sons and a daughter to the Congregations of Holy Cross.
In 1924, she graduated from Saint Mary’s Academy, Notre Dame, Indiana and then attended two years of college at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, receiving a two-year Normal Certificate in 1926.
Sister Ehrentrude was assigned to be an elementary school teacher and was an excellent teacher for twenty years. She taught in Catholic parish schools in South Bend, Indiana; Los Angeles and Fresno, California; Boise, Idaho and East Chicago, Indiana. All of these schools benefitted from her presence. Her ill health prevented her from continuing as a teacher, so she served as portress at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana and Saint Theodore’s in Chicago, Illinois. In 1945, Sister Ehrentrude became a citizen of the United States. She retired to Saint Mary’s Convent in 1964 and served in many capacities until her death September 8,1987.
What is God like? God is like when your grandmother holds you as a child and feeds you. God is like when you find a twenty dollar bill in your coat pocket at the beginning of a new winter. God is like when your sports team loses the game but you are so proud of the way they played. God is like when you decide to jump off the diving board for the very first time. God is like when you reach for the apple slices instead of the bag of potato chips. God is like when you go for a very long walk. God is like when you are talking to a person and understand exactly what they mean. God is like when you get up from your desk to go play with your friends. God is like when you take a break during a very stressful day. God is like when you harvest vegetables from your garden. God is like when your head hits the pillow at night. God is like when you smile at a stranger. God is like when you realize that you are breathing. May the great AVE CRUX SPES UNICA be locked into place in our minds and hearts so that we might never experience another “when” in this life without feeling absolutely close to the God who saves. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
Brother Simeon (Thomas) Costello, C.S.C. (1901-1956)
He Always Had a smile, Never a Complaint
Simeon was born in Fort Wayne, IN, the older brother (by one year) of Brother Jude. He attended Cathedral High in Fort Wayne and worked as a mechanical and electrical apprentice for a number of years. He decided to become a Brother and joined Holy Cross in 1926. He went to the juniorate in Watertown, then the novitiate at Notre Dame, and made his first vows in 1928. He was assigned to work at St. Charles Boys’ Home in Milwaukee, WI where he served for eighteen years. He was the first athletic director and was instrumental in arranging for medical care for the students, besides looking after their health. He was a stocky, little Brother with a unique sense of humor that made him popular with the boys. In 1948, he was assigned to Sacred Heart Juniorate to look after the farm.
In 1949, he went to St. Joseph’s Farm, an obedience he loved. The photo is of the Holy Cross farm personnel in the early 1920s. He always had a smile, never a complaint, said his colleagues. He contracted a type of cancer that slowed his work. When he was in hospitals for treatment, he longed to go back to the St. Joseph Farm to be of help. Brother Jude Costello returned from Bengal to visit and pray with his brother at the Mayo Clinic. Simeon passed away to his eternal reward three months later.
“Serve the Lord gladly, come with songs of joy.” (Psalm 100:2)
Grieving is the quintessential human experience that lays bare just how spiritual we really are underneath it all. Indeed, our tendency to reach out, grasp onto something and not let go is only rivaled by our glorious and miraculous ability to surrender that same thing in an act of trust and acceptance of some new reality. While this Christic pattern – of dying and rising – is unique to our species, no two people grieve in the same way: for some it is a very gradual process, for others it is practically instantaneous, and still for others the path is dark and confusing. The only tragedy in all of this is when a person avoids loving so as to escape the drama of grief. Such a fear-based posture in life stunts our spiritual growth and represses our human flourishing. Are we able to articulate the people, places and things that we are grieving? Are we willing to see grief as life-giving and good? Are we ready to accept a lifetime of grieving as a real dimension of our human vocation? May the tears and pain of our constantly awkward attempts at love in this life give rise to a transformed spirit receptive to the kind of love that “sets the world on fire” (Lk 12:49). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Brother David (Sylvester) Martin, CSC (1901-1986)
A Given Life: Entwined with Learning
Brother David Martin, C.S.C., arrived on the Bluff [University of Portland] in 1928. With no college degree at the time, he was immediately named the librarian. The irony became sort of an inspiration. He was to hold the office of library director until 1966.
Faced with many challenges, Br. David worked in stages; waiting, proposing, pushing toward the possible and making progress. First, having charge of a limited collection of books, he created a dedicated reading-room for student study by moving the library from West (now Waldschmidt) Hall to Christie Hall where there was space for reading tables. Next, or perhaps already within that first vision, he began to plan for a library building, an impossible ambition in those days when there was only a single dedicated classroom building (Science Hall, 1937). But Br. David was patient and persistent. And prepared not only the design of a modern college library but also himself through the years of waiting. When the library was built in 1958 — in no small part through his own efforts as promoter and chief fund-raiser — Br. David had, in the meantime, picked up four advanced degrees, founded the Library Summer School, and earned the rank of Dean of the School of Library Science.
But, he wasn’t finished. Coincident with his retirement as Dean of the Library, the University Archives was established with Br. David as the first University Archivist (June 1, 1966). Collating, arranging, and indexing historical files accumulated through more than sixty years of university life was to be the work, but his first order of business was again creating space and access– once again moving resources out from closet filing cabinets in West (Waldschmidt) Hall across campus to the library, and eventually to Shipstad Hall.
His fifty-five years of service (retiring from the Archives in 1983!) is a life-time of contributions to the growth and maturity of the University of Portland. The two developed together, Br. David and the university he loved. Br. David was ever learning and put his curiosity and knowledge into the hands of students and the university community.
If you are looking for a way to become more sensitive to the subtle spiritual movements of God throughout your day, consider the habit of praying Psalm 119. By far the longest chapter of the entire Bible, Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem that covers the whole Hebrew alphabet. Each of the twenty-two stanzas employs the same vocabulary again and again – ways, words, teachings, commandments, statutes, ordinances, laws and precepts – in order to communicate how very pervasive God’s will is in our lives, whether we know it or not. The refined style of this Psalm – as it makes no specific mention of Israel’s dramatic history – is an invitation to the reader to consider how simple the life of discipleship really is beneath the outward show and fancy contours. Indeed, if we really examined ourselves and the meaning of our own personal stories, we would discover that it is not more complicated than Psalm 119, “Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord” (Ps 119:1). Let’s therefore open our hearts to the living God and allow our lives themselves to become alphabets that constantly form words of consolation for others on this journey and sound forth ceaseless words of praise to the God who saves. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
“Listen, my child, with the ear of your heart….” is the famous opening line of the original monastic rule and a trustworthy foundation for any person serious about the spiritual life. While an ear is a kind of openness, a receptive space that invites sound, it is not mere passivity. An ear has a form, engineered over millions of years, that is meant to confront the noise of the world, and it is this specific shape that makes hearing and understanding possible. The same is true for our souls: We have the capacity to receive all sorts of energy, sensory data and spiritual phenomena in the course of our daily lives, but what is any of that noise worth if it is not confronted with a well-designed internal apparatus that allows us to hear and understand what it all means? This apparatus is the crucified Christ in whose very image we have been created (cf. Gen 1:27 and Col 1:15), but who has nevertheless been obscured and deformed as the difficult journey of our lives has unfolded. If we want to live authentically, if we want to truly be human, if we want to recover our soul’s ear, we have only to look to the cross, that interior Christic architecture which enables us to listen to the music of life that has been playing all along. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Mountaintops are a common biblical setting for encountering God. Abraham’s great act of trust took place with his son upon an altar atop Mt. Moriah (Ex 22:3-18); Moses (Ex 19:3) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-13) each communed with the Lord in a particularly powerful way in the solitude of their respective rocky peaks; the psalmist speaks of the spiritual delights of high altitudes (e.g. Ps 11:1, Ps 104:8, Ps 125:1-2); sacrificial offerings and official worship were performed in the Temple atop Mt. Zion; while Jesus prayed earnestly on the Mount of Olives and offered the total gift of himself to his heavenly Father on Mt. Calvary. The decision to ascend whatever mountain the Lord has placed on our path is a choice for the same kind of intimacy. Yes, we have to bid farewell to those whose company we enjoy at the base, yes it is hard work, and yes we often ascend blindly without being able to see the summit along the way. Nevertheless, our souls will be purified by the trust demanded in such a risk, and we shall become unthinkably close to the God who leads us to the top. Let’s therefore not be afraid to go to the heights. Let’s find ways to climb the interior mountain. Let’s bring that constant privileged encounter with the living God within to those we meet in the ordinary circumstances of our lives. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Sister M. Lourdes (Anna May) Kelly, CSC (1910-2019)
She Could Stop Traffic!
“It is usually a high compliment when a person is described as someone who had such personality that she could stop traffic. Not in the case of Sister M. Lourdes (Kelly). Her independence and determination caused concern. Well into her nineties, Sister’s daily prayer included a trip from the Saint Mary’s motherhouse over to the Grotto on the University of Notre Dame campus. If her ride did not show up promptly, Sister Lourdes headed out alone. Just as impatiently, she started across the highway with her rosary, not waiting for cars to slow down on the highway at the main entrance to Saint Mary’s. She brushed off those who would protect her by saying, ‘Don’t worry about the traffic, they will stop.’
“Sister Lourdes often engaged visitors in conversation at the Grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. She introduced herself to one visitor when she was ninety-three, explaining that she had hoped to receive the name Brigid, patroness of her native Ireland, at the time of her reception of the Holy Habit in 1936. ‘But my, how I was delighted to be named after the Blessed Virgin!’ Her genuine interaction and humanity touched those she encountered. More than one person remembers Sister’s promise of prayer. ‘It is all in the hands of God and the Blessed Mother. Give your life completely….’
“Sister Lourdes never lost her Irish brogue, having been born in Dublin, Ireland in 1910. Her father, James Kelly, was a railroad engineer. He had already died of pneumonia at 72 by the time of her initial profession as a Sister of the Holy Cross at age 28 in August 1938. Her mother, Frances Phelan Kelly, was 71 when her daughter Anna May Kelly professed her vows. She was the youngest of eleven children, all of whom predeceased her. The music for her Mass of Resurrection was the same as that for her sister Frances Kelly. Her sister Elizabeth, Sister Mary Martha (Kelly), CSC, did not think Anna May had a religious vocation but agreed to take her with her back to the United States to become a Sister of the Holy Cross. Sister Martha died in 1987. Sister Lourdes, after years of bureaucratic mix-ups, finally became a citizen of the United States in 1948 at age thirty-seven.
The young Anna May Kelly had only wanted to be a sister, assuming she would be a housekeeper like the Blessed Mother. As Sister Lourdes, she was shocked to be assigned as an elementary school teacher, beginning at St. Joseph School, South Bend, IN, in 1938, where there was a large Irish population. The children were thrilled to have her as a teacher. She was a successful teacher in parish schools throughout Indiana and Illinois. In 1973, she continued in Catholic education as a tutor for students who needed support, serving at Holy Redeemer School, Flint, Michigan, and at St. Paul’s School, Valparaiso, Indiana, in each for three years. In 1980, Sister Lourdes retired to Saint Mary’s Convent but continued in various ministries of prayer, including visits to the Grotto at Notre Dame, stopping traffic.
Sister Lourdes planned ahead—as did her sister Frances, who had arranged for thirty masses to be celebrated for Sister Lourdes upon her death. Sister wrote in December 1993 that she was ‘looking ahead to that great day.’ She wanted no memento at the vigil service, only a rosary recited for the repose of her soul. Sister Lourdes died at Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, IN, at the age of 109, having entered Holy Cross after leaving Dublin in the same month 84 years earlier. Her citizenship is now in heaven.” (Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC.)
What is the number one rule of boxing? DON’T GET HIT! While it is easy to fixate on the haymakers, straights and hooks that make television ratings soar and fans go wild, we forget that the boxer who goes untouched in a given match by dodging and bobbing cannot lose. How frequently, in the ring of life, however, we become falsely convinced that we need to go on the offensive, yet time and again we come away feeling tired, empty and dry. Perhaps Jesus was the greatest boxer of all time because he never had to resort to such measures. Like another who called himself “the greatest,” Jesus focused first on his footwork – constantly attentive to his mission, he journeyed, with perfect timing, from Galilee to Samaria to Judea and finally to Jerusalem as his opponents kept missing him. Then, when he had reached Golgotha, seemingly trapped but still unwilling to unleash violence on others, a new version of the rule emerged: “Don’t get hit, but when you do, make it eucharistic.” Indeed, the world’s blows are destined, in Christ, to be transformed into moments of grace where weary, angry and fear-ridden souls are nourished by our deep confidence in the Father’s love: by our wounds, which are Christ’s wounds, others will be healed. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
BROTHER DANIEL (MARTIN) SCHOTT, CSC (1875-1943)
FIRST PRINCIPAL OF REITZ MEMORIAL HIGH SCHOOL
“In the fall of 1937, a noted Russian basso died suddenly, and Brother Daniel asked a curious question: ‘I wonder if God will ask Chaliapin to sing in heaven?’ The question was both thoughtful and provocative. On July 18 of this year  Brother Daniel died, and one of his associates wondered sincerely if God would ask Brother ‘Dan’ about that ‘old blue coat.’ Brother Dan was very fond of this coat; in fact, he never felt better dressed than when he wore it. ‘It’s a good one,’ he would say. ‘Brother Marcellinus [Kinsella] only had it a short time when he gave it to me.’ But people who never concern themselves with anniversaries could never appreciate the fact that Brother Marcellinus had been dead now for more than a quarter of a century. Brother Daniel would take the coat off, puff a little, and enumerate the people he had met on his way back from town. But there was never a mention of the street car tokens that he had never had occasion to use even after his rheumatism and he had become friends of long standing. It was other people that Brother Daniel liked to speak about. No one, he thought, was interested in what concerned himself. And this caused his superiors a little inconvenience the day that his obituary was to be written: no one knew for certain the name of the city in Germany where he was born. Then, from the tomb of oblivion, came the guess that the city was Hanover. Well, the year was 1875; the date October 29.
“Poverty, humility, and two hours a day before the Blessed Sacrament are only a partial portrait of Brother ‘Dan.’ Justice and prudence complete the picture. Twenty years ago, when he was getting ready to die of a kidney infection, he summoned the steward of the house to his ‘deathbed’ and bade him bring the unpaid bills and the checkbook. In vain the steward persuaded him to composure as befitted the last moments of a good Christian. But Brother ‘Dan’ was adamant: ‘The butcher and the grocer have their rent to pay,’ he said; ‘besides, if we want the usual discount, we must get these checks into the mail before the 10th of the month.’
“Teachers no longer glory in the honorable title of schoolmaster, but Brother Daniel was, and remained, a schoolmaster until the day of his death. His death marked the passing of another one of those exceptional teachers who possess genuine and rare characteristics, intense knowledge and love of the studies they teach [Latin], deep interest in and understanding of youth, a compelling force which cannot tolerate mediocre accomplishment, and an inspirational drive which induces high school students to make efforts when the subject matter seemingly has no significance.
“He entered the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1889 and his first teaching assignment was at St. Joseph’s College, Cincinnati. Later, he was assigned to Central Catholic H.S. in Fort Wayne, IN first as a teacher and later as principal. He was transferred to Reitz Memorial H.S. in Evansville, IN in 1925, where he served as [the first] principal, vice principal or teacher until the time of his death.” (The Association of St. Joseph, 1943, no author.)
We have all experienced the fight or flight response that anthropologists say is a remnant of our lizard brains. In a moment of fear – faced with a tiger in the jungle, a bully on the playground, or some memory of trauma – we instinctively fall into the destructive cycle of lashing out against the other then hiding ourselves in shame, but that is no way to live! Jesus, who came to bring life and who instructs us to not succumb to fear, offers us an alternative vision for how we might approach such situations. Instead of putting up our fists to fight, he invites us to “take up the cross” in a posture of vulnerability and openness. Instead of running away in flight, he invites us to “follow him” steadily and confidently into a real future filled with hope. Such a pattern of “take up your cross and follow me,” therefore, cannot but be a healing balm for a twisted and bipolar version of our humanity. Indeed, we shall learn to dance gracefully through the most complicated and seemingly dire situations in life. We shall bear witness to the transforming power of God through our own inner conversion. We shall reveal a Christic truth that is more primordial and cuts more deeply than our lizard brains. We shall give glory to God in every encounter. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
BROTHER MARCIAN (STANISLAUS) KARSKY, CSC (1903-1942)
PRELUDE TO GLORY
Brother Marcian was born in Ostretin, Czechoslovakia. His parents came to the States in 1908 and settled in North Dakota. He entered Holy Cross in 1921 and was professed in 1926. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1930 with a Bachelor of Arts in Latin (Magna Cum Laude). His master’s work was done at Columbia University, NY and he graduated with the diploma PRINCIPAL OF HIGH SCHOOL. From 1924-1933, he was assigned to Cathedral High School, Indianapolis, IN where he taught the Classics and served as Prefect of Discipline and Assistant Principal. From 1933-1939, he served as the first principal of Monsignor James Coyle High School in Taunton, MA, and from 1939-1942, he returned to Cathedral H.S. as principal. During the early part of December, 1941, he was stricken with a streptococcic infection of the blood, and in February 1942 was moved to Seton Infirmary, Austin, TX where he died in November.
The following is taken from an obituary printed in the 1942 issue of The Association of St. Joseph: “The Congregation sustained another loss on November 11, 1942. Brother Marcian had nothing to do with retirements, twilights, or memories; rather he stood on the brink of a brilliant career. Characteristic of his optimism was a strange deathbed request: he wanted for his library a recently published book on the history of the Catholic Church in America. And propped up on pillows, he read serenely with pencil poised for the marginal notes that would soon augment his classroom preparations, ‘after I shake-off this fever.’
“That the young teacher possessed qualities of leadership is evident by his appointment to positions of responsibility. Under his direction two student organizations flourished at Cathedral: the Students’ Activity Council and the Students’ Council for Catholic Action.
“To know Brother Marcian was to discover in him an admirable blend of shrewdness of temper with simplicity. Young teachers are often terrified by the slightest rent in that priceless fabric they call their ideals. A thoughtless boy is more than likely to prove catastrophic to the rigid standards of discipline set up by the uninitiated. To these young teachers whose personal displeasure became at once a world crisis, Brother Marcian was wont to ask: ‘Now, remember that you were once a boy yourself, what do you suggest that I do?’ Even though he knew beforehand—with some strange kind of knowing—what ought to be done.’”
Brother Marcian was a man who could temper justice not only with mercy, but also with charity; who could maintain principles without being arbitrary. His hearty laugh and genuine sense of humor made him a favorite among students.
Did you ever think about what was behind the original sin (Gen 3:6)? It was a false attitude that the serpent tricked our first parents into adopting, that they were not good enough, that they had to instead “be like God” (Gen 3:5). This rejection of our natural goodness – a deep insecurity that we all struggle with interiorly – makes us think that we need to accomplish great things, wear fancy clothing, amass wealth, or associate with pretty people in order to be ourselves. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth! Our true dignity is instead revealed when we make the slow journey to Jerusalem with Jesus. Such a risk takes us out of the comfortable patterns of our hiding (cf. Gen 3:8) and, with each step of the way, sheds the various layers of ego that we have accumulated over the years. At the end of this journey, we shall return to the tree in the garden (cf. Gen 2:9) and, stripped down to our original goodness, make with Jesus an offering of ourselves to our heavenly Father who receives us in love exactly as we are. Let’s therefore recognize the unhealthy striving that goes on in our lives. Let’s say no to the serpent once and for all. Let’s have the courage to walk with the Lord each and every day (cf. Gen 3:8). Let’s be good enough for all eternity. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
SISTER ALOYSIA MARIE MULCAIRE, CSC (1909-2012)
83 YEARS A SISTER OF THE HOLY CROSS
Margaret Mulcaire lived 102 years fully invested in her life. She was born in County Limerick, Ireland and entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1927 from Fort Wayne, IN. As a Mulcaire, she was one of many family members who entered Holy Cross beginning with her aunts, Sisters Aloysius and Gertrude who entered the Congregation in the 1850s. Her two blood sisters, Maria Gemma and Miriam Gertrude, lived with her in many ministries and during the remainder of their lives as Holy Cross Sisters at St. Mary’s Covent in South Bend, IN. Her two brothers Father Michael Mulcaire, CSC and Father James Mulcaire, CSC were also serving at the University of Notre Dame and in Illinois during her life in Holy Cross.
She began her teaching career in 1931 at Immaculate Conception School in Morris, Illinois. From 1937 through 1985 she was the Supervisor of grammar schools throughout Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. As both a teacher and a principal, she built a reputation of having a no-nonsense attitude which gained her the nickname “Big Al.” Her sixth and seventh grade students feared her at first, but soon learned that the gruff exterior was a thin icing upon a rich cake of love and devotion for them. Many of these students wanted to be assigned to her eighth-grade homeroom.
Sister Aloysia Marie had a zest for life and she never stopped growing. She was interested in everything and kept up with the news. A very spiritual person, she continued to deepen her relationship with God through spiritual reading, especially books by her favorite writer Henry Nouwen. Her clever Irish wit would lighten up any room and she loved to tease her sisters.
When her formal teaching days came to an end, she served as the receptionist at Moreau Seminary for two years, and then she enjoyed a well-earned sabbatical at St. Catherine-by-the-Sea in Ventura, CA. From 1988 until her death in 2012, she served in various capacities at St. Mary’s Convent.
The home crowd advantage is something that sports teams relish: our turf, our house, our field, our court, our traditions, our fans, etc. Such circumstances make players feel comfortable, like they are in control, and often make a visiting team feel tense and out of sorts. Yet, in the spiritual life, it is exactly the opposite, as we learn to become dissatisfied with a false sense of security in this life and discover the need for some deeper and more lasting truth. Indeed, by having a constant “away game” mindset, we grow in our awareness that our true home is a future reality which we will only ever reach through a lifetime of journeying. The life of Jesus says as much: he was born in an animal stable and laid in a manger (Lk 2:7); when he left Galilee, he “had no place to lay his head” (Lk 9:58); he was executed outside the very walls of Jerusalem, and not even his deathbed was his own (Lk 23:33); yet, as one who spent time in his Father’s house from an early age (Lk 2:9), he was at home among the poor and afflicted and invites us today to abandon our prodigal ways that we may share in the joy of finally being at home with the Father (cf. Lk 15:11-32). Let’s be like Jesus, let’s go home. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
FATHER MICHAEL A. MULCAIRE, C.S.C. (1894-1964)
VP UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME
Michael Mulcaire was born in Limerick, Ireland one of ten brothers and sisters. He began studies for Holy Cross ordination in 1909 as a member of the Little Seminary on the Notre Dame campus being ordained in 1922. His first assignment was as the Assistant Superior of Moreau Seminary from 1923-24.
In addition to his 1917 Notre Dame degree, he held a Ph.D. in economics from Catholic University in 1923. He taught economics at Notre Dame from 1924-through 1933 and was the head of the department of Economics and Politics. He also served on the Faculty Board in Control of Athletics from 1928 to 1933. It was Father Mulcaire who received the first word of the death of Knute Rockne in a Kansas plane crash in March of 1931. For two years, 1928-1930, he was the coach of the varsity negative and affirmative Notre Dame debate teams. Known for his zeal for debate and his scholarship as both an economist and political science professor, the team members considered him to be their finest coach. From 1933 to 1945 he taught at the University of Portland, and he served as Vice President of both the University of Notre Dame and the University of Portland. In 1955 he was appointed the assistant chaplain for the Brothers at Columba Hall and at the Community Infirmary. His death in Holy Cross House in 1964 was unexpected from a massive heart attack. His funeral Mass was offered by his brother Father James Mulcaire, the pastor of St. Peter’s Church in South Beloit, IL.
Kindness and community spirit were characteristics of Father Mulcaire. At Holy Cross House he said Mass every day at 10:00 AM for those who were unable to offer Mass themselves, and he volunteered to man the switchboard in the evenings, relieving the Brothers to attend to other duties. He was a voracious reader, a habit that helped to make him a pleasant and interesting conversationalist.
Father Mulcaire belonged to a legendary CSC family. He had three sisters who were Holy Cross nuns: Miriam Gertrude, Maria Gemma, and Aloysia Marie. There were 18 other female family members who were Holy Cross sisters. His aunt, Sister Aloysius Mulcaire, was the first Sister of the Holy Cross to work with Father Sorin’s Minims.
Underneath the interactions, psychological exchanges, split-second decisions and general drama that plays out over the course of a lifetime are these things called assumptions. Assumptions are deep, invisible realities that dwell in our souls and dictate how we act. They end up there through our experiences in a given household, culture, religious tradition, race, economic background, etc. Because there is a period of time when we have not yet developed a reasoning capacity to filter what gets transmitted into us, we just end up accepting it all and carry all of that baggage around with us. Thus, when we talk to another person, hardly is it two human beings who are communing, but rather two containers of assumptions ego-dueling, as we try to figure out what is inside the other person and strive to protect our own “stuff.” What a pathetic vision for life! The life of Jesus, especially crucified, is nevertheless an invitation to “put out into the deep” (Lk 5:4) and go through the long process of emptying ourselves of these assumptions (cf. Phil 2:7). Indeed, through a life of prayer, discipline and obedience to the Father, we shall instead come face to face with the millstones that have been around our necks through the years (cf. Mt 18:6). We shall learn to assume good will and begin to enjoy positive relationships. We shall have life. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
Sister Ann Therese McAndrew, CSC (1925-2020)
(Sister M. Florinda)
A Faithful Friend of St. Joseph
Sister Ann Therese McAndrew left clear instructions on the details of her funeral. She had been a faithful member of the Sisters of the Holy Cross for 77 years when she died at Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana, at age 95. She asked that there be no memento for her, thinking it would be an imposition to have another sister in her entrance group, or band, feel compelled to extol her virtues as a fellow woman religious. As it happened, she alone was the surviving member of her band who entered in September 1943. As for the memento, she insisted, “Just speak about the goodness of St. Joseph. I consider him my good friend.” St. Joseph was an appropriate friend to accompany Anna McAndrew throughout her life. In traditional Catholic spirituality, St. Joseph is the saint of a hidden life, who fosters and protects the child and the family. The Sisters of the Holy Cross taught her in elementary school at St. Theodore, describing Anna as a very good young lady coming from a fine Catholic family. Anna applied to the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1943. She received the habit in 1944 receiving the name Mary Florinda, with her older sister by four years, Mary Catherine, entering the Congregation only the month before. Since 1967, Sister has been known as Ann Therese McAndrew, and reclaiming the McAndrew surname was apparently important to her since she left instructions to give all her “Irish possessions” to her family upon her death. Everyone attests to Sister’s devotion to her family. At her Mass of Resurrection on January 4, 2021, the hymns selected by Sister included ones from her brother’s and sister’s funerals. Within five days of her sister’s death, Sister Ann Therese wrote asking permission that she be buried next to her sister’s grave in Our Lady of Peace Cemetery at the motherhouse.
Sister Ann Therese emulated St. Joseph, whom tradition calls a worker, provider and guardian. She was known for being dedicated and conscientious in all her duties, rarely taking a sick day. She was an accomplished seamstress and cook who shared her domestic talents with others. Her material needs were minimal, being content with what she had. Sister credited her friend St. Joseph as significant in her life of service. “My first ministry was at St. Joseph Grade School in South Bend, Indiana, and my last ministry was at St. Joseph High School in South Bend.” Sister had attended Lindholm Technical High School in Chicago, taking four years of commercial courses but later pursued educational ministry instead. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in education at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, in 1963 and a master’s in education at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, in 1968.
From 1946 to 1970 Sister Ann Therese spent 24 years as a teacher in elementary education. In 1970 she transitioned to serving as a receptionist or office assistant in schools, 10 years at Holy Cross School and 33 years at St. Joseph High School, both in South Bend. Whether in the classroom or the school office, she was known for her keen understanding of children and adolescents. Students and staff loved her. Sister was shy, some say timid, but she bore herself with dignity and grace, a lady from head to toe. Her bright eyes and open smile made her approachable. A parent wrote, “In her simplicity she was a role model for religious life, particularly for the teenage kids in the high school she loved.” In all her 68 years of ministry, she served only in Indiana and Illinois. In July 2014, she retired to a full-time ministry of prayer at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. Hers had been truly a hidden life. She had lived her life quietly as a consecrated woman religious following Jesus Christ. Sister Ann Therese loved God with all her heart, soul and mind. And she did her best to love her neighbor as herself. (Adapted from the obituary by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC)
I have this friend who had been in an alcoholic marriage and went through a very difficult divorce. She once told me that she landed in that mess because her “picker” was broken and that she needed to get it fixed before she could make any other major life decisions. This was very unusual language, but I understood her meaning immediately. Her “picker” as she called it – the capacity to discern and make decisions – had been damaged by some traumatic experience and had atrophied as a result of a lack of use over the years, rendering her incapable of choosing the good and thriving as a human being. We too have “pickers” that, like hers, affect everything we do in life, but in order to think clearly and choose well, it is vitally important that we look to Jesus, the “picker” par excellence, who made the definitive decision to enter into Jerusalem (Mt 21:20-11), to accept the heavy burden of the Cross (Mt 26:42), and to hand over his earthly life to his heavenly Father (Lk 23:46). Indeed, by meditating upon and adopting the patterns of the life and journey of Jesus, we too shall reclaim that core part of our souls that is responsible for thinking and choosing and in so doing adopt a constant habit of picking that leads to eternal life. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Father William Evans, CSC (1919-1971)
Missionary and Martyr
The following was written by Father Robert McKee, CSC.
In the cemetery at the side of St. Francis Xavier Church in Golla parish in the Diocese of Dhaka [Dacca] in Bangladesh there is a very well kept grave. The cement marker gives the name of Father William Evans, CSC, noting that he died on Nov. 13, 1971. He was just 52 years old then. He died at the village of Noabganj about five miles from his parish in Golla. His death occurred toward the end of the nine-month civil war between East and West Pakistan.
On Saturday, November 13th Father Bill boarded his boat with a friendly Golla man at the paddle. As they approached Noabganj, a soldier beckoned the boat to shore. A freedom fighter, secure in the jungle across the river, gave us his story of what followed. The soldier escorted Fr. Bill to the headquarters of the army post, near a school a short distance from the river. About twenty minutes later, two soldiers escorted Fr. Bill back to his boat. His luggage was examined – Mass equipment, a change of clothing, a few books. These items were thrown into the river. The solders ordered Fr. Bill and his boatman into a trench, dug by the army for security for post guards. Suddenly, the boatman broke into flight, running around a bend in the river bank. The soldiers firing but missing the boatman, quickly turned to Fr. Bill, striking him with their bayonets. A soldier fired twice at Fr. Bill, one bullet entering his back and exiting near his neck. The soldiers immediately threw Fr. Bill’s body into the river. The next morning, about four miles down the stream from Noabganj, a boy examining his fish traps discovered Fr. Bill’s body. The body was carried on a litter by a path a good distance from the army post of Noabganj, and by noon of November 15 Fr. Bill’s body was delivered to Archbishop Ganguly and the others at Golla. That afternoon Fr. Bill was buried in the presence of many Moslems, Hindus and Christians who knew and loved him.
Why do so many remember Fr. Bill Evans? [Because] he was fully at the service of other persons, sharing his concern, his personal interest and love. In every mission where he served his twenty-six years of priesthood, Christians, Moslems and Hindus will never forget the priest who was personally involved in their lives. He carried his nearness to God into his life as a preacher. He never missed an opportunity to preach. And he developed a real talent in bringing the Lord to life for his people by his words and his understanding of the life of his people.
Today, at Stonehill College, North Easton, MA, there is a house named EVANS HOUSE that stands as a memorial for Father William Evans, CSC.
Awareness is a very popular topic in modern psycho-spirituality. When we become aware, that is, when we see the phenomena of cause and effect clearly and accurately in our lives, we are empowered to live in the truth and to act justly. The challenge of course is that, insofar as the scientist is always part of the experiment, our efforts to become totally detached and have a totally objective view of things will always be compromised. This is why we must look to the Cross! The Cross is a boundary marker, a placeholder and a point of reference. The Cross exists independently of my particular psychological landscape and will always be there – etched in my very soul – to serve as the line of distinction that allows me to freely step outside of the drama of the self and stand in some new place. The primary fruit of this act of awareness is the gift of being with the Father, the fulfillment of the fundamental desire that motivates our whole lives. Let’s not get deluded into thinking that we need some fancy method of meditation or the wisdom of some new age guru on this spiritual path. Let’s instead become everyday mystics by digging deep and humbly accepting the gift of the Cross as it already exists in our lives. In this way, we shall invite others into this same act of awareness that makes us free to be children of God together. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Alcoholics Anonymous, and other twelve-step recovery groups, work because they point people to Christ. While the life of addiction is spent in a chaotic and endless bipolar pattern of clinging to some thing and then falling into the ugly waters of shame and despair, the program invites people to live from one pole, a middle place of integrity and stability. This pole is ultimately the Cross which links deep trust in God – as the first eleven steps call for an accounting of what dwells in our souls and thus directs our lives – with a willingness to spend ourselves reaching out in service to others that they may also share in the peace that only God can bring – the twelfth step. The famous Serenity Prayer, fundamental to the entire recovery tradition and offered at every single meeting, says as much: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” (the love that God has for me), “the courage to change the things I can” (the way that I relate to other people), “and the wisdom to know the difference” (Christ, who, especially crucified, is the very “wisdom of God,” cf. 1 Cor 1:24). May we each adopt Christ as the captain of our ship on this lifelong recovery journey and thus move from the anonymity of suffering to the uniqueness of being a child of God. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
Brother Theophane (John) Schmitt, CSC (1911-1963)
First Headmaster of St. Patrick’s H.S., Monrovia, Liberia
A tragic accident ended a life of thirty years of outstanding service in Holy Cross. On the morning of July 9, 1963, Brother Theophane drove from St. Patrick’s High School to the Firestone Plantation Hospital in Monrovia. On returning, his car was hit by a speeding car that struck him broadside on the driver’s side. A German doctor stopped and administered first aid, and then took him back to the hospital with broken ribs as well as head and face lacerations.
Upon receiving a telegram, Bishop Carroll and Brother Donald Allen drove to the hospital. During the next few days, and the week that followed, Theophane seemed greatly improved as he was making plans to return to St. Patrick’s. During the next week, however, his condition deteriorated, and his health became so alarming that the bishop administered the last rites. He died on July 15 with Brothers Donald and Austin Maley by his bedside. After a Requiem Mass in Monrovia, the body was returned to Notre Dame where he was interred in the community cemetery.
John Schmitt entered the Congregation of Holy Cross as a Brother in 1930. In 1936, he received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Notre Dame. He began as a teacher at Sacred Heart Juniorate in Watertown, WI in 1936, and in 1938, he was appointed to be the vocation recruiter. During the next seven years he demonstrated that he could use his outgoing and dynamic personality and his kindness to aptly describe the life of a brother to numerous young men—many of whom entered the Brothers.
In 1945, Brother Theophane was selected to establish a prep school, Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills, OH. The new school opened in 1946 and, very soon, proved to be a high school with a reputation for high standards with excellent academic and athletic programs.
Because of his organizational and administrative ability, his name came to the attention of the General Administration in Rome, Italy. Plans were in the making to move the general administration from Rome to New York City while a new Generalate and seminary were being constructed. Brother Theophane was selected to oversee this massive undertaking in a language he did not speak, and where the attitudes and methods of doing things were very different than in the States. Nonetheless, the new buildings were ready for occupation in 1954, and Theophane remained in Rome through 1956 as the General Steward and a member of the General Council. In 1957, he was assigned to Monrovia. (Adapted from the writings of Brother Edward Sniatecki, CSC, January 1984)
St. Paul uses the psychological “I” a lot in his writings. He has classic lines like, “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal 2:20) and “I have fought the good fight” (2 Tim 4:7) and “I can do all things through Christ” (Phil 4:13). In an age when people generally recognize the problem of having a “big ego” (literally “I”), but don’t seem to know what to do about it, or simply try to annihilate it or avoid it, it is refreshing to hear how Paul strives to align his “I” with Christ. Indeed, Paul spent three years in Arabia (Gal 3:17-18) after his powerful encounter with the risen Christ (Acts 9:3-6) so that he could be purged of all of his negative emotions, false perceptions and sensory attachments, with a new “I” emerging out of this milieu as a more authentic expression of his humanity. Paul invites us to undertake this same kind of psychological journey of conversion that puts a positive spin on the “I,” so that with David we might proclaim, “O God, you are my God, for you I long” (Ps 63:1); with Mary, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord” (Lk 1:38); with Magdalene, “I have seen the LORD!” (Jn 20:18); with Christ, “I thirst” (Jn 19:28); and with the Church, “I believe.” Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
BROTHER BERNARD (EUGENE) GERVAIS, C.S.C. (1881-1963)
CONGREGATIONAL HISTORIAN AND MULTITASKER
Born in Momence, IL, Francis Gervais entered Holy Cross in 1896 and professed firsts vows in 1899 at Notre Dame. He enjoyed telling the story of his first assignment as a candidate in 1896. Two days after entering, he was asked to dig the grave for Brother Francis Xavier Patois, the last of the six brothers who came from France with Father Sorin in 1842. He recalled that this was his initiation into the rich history of the Brothers of Holy Cross in America. Almost to his last day, he collected and wrote articles on the history of the Congregation.
At the completion of his novitiate, now Brother Bernard was assigned to St. Vincent Scholasticate until receiving a Master of Accounts from the University of Notre Dame. In September 1901, he was assigned to teach in the Cathedral School in Fort Wayne, and at the end of the year, he was reassigned to Holy Cross College in New Orleans. Because of his background in commercial subjects, in 1906, he was transferred to St. Joseph College in Cincinnati, OH. In 1909, he returned to Cathedral High School as a member of the school’s first high school faculty under the leadership of principal Brother Marcellinus Kinsella.
When the University of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Watertown, WI phased out its academic program in 1912, Brother Bernard was assigned as the first superior and director of the new candidate program, Sacred Heart Juniorate, through 1918. One of his first candidates was his own brother, Felix, later Brother Benedict.
From 1918 onward, Brother Bernard was given assignments that allowed his leadership and financial skills to be fully utilized: 1918-1924, principal of Cathedral High School; 1925-1931, director of the scholasticate, Dujarié Hall; and 1926-1950, holding several roles on the General Administration—councilor, steward, treasurer either at Notre Dame, Washington, DC or in New York City. During those 24 years, he would also direct other activities too: 1925-31 as superior at Dujarié; another one-year assignment at Cathedral High School; and superior of St. Joseph Farm, Granger, IN from 1931-1934. A true multi-tasker!
Perhaps, from the view of any of the congregation’s many archivists, his greatest accomplishment was bringing the General Matricule, a membership register, up to date, beginning in 1820 and ending in 1944. Bernard spent eight years researching and compiling the data. Beginning with Father Jacque Dujarié as number one and ending with number 5,700, Brother Gabriel Rondel, he compiled the chronological list. He then built an index where each member is cross referenced by religious name, e.g. Ildephonsus, and surname: a monumental effort because all of it was typed with very few errors.
From 1950 until Brother Bernard’s untimely death in 1963—he died visiting his family in Seattle, WA—he enjoyed working in the Midwest province archives and gardening. Brother Bernard Gervais was one of the many early twentieth century titans who worked to move the Brothers into the “modern” age of secondary education.
Adapted from the writings of Brother Edward (Hyacinth) Sniatecki, CSC, January 1984.
The Bible is filled with tree imagery: the Tree of Life (Gen 2 and Rev 22), the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 3), the tree planted by running waters (Ps 1), the fig tree (Mt 21), the wild olive tree (Rom 11), and the list goes on. Trees are important symbols in the spiritual life for several reasons: they are stable points of reference that are firmly rooted in the earth; they defy the heavy burden of gravity as they soar heavenward; and in the pairing of a single trunk with a vast array of branches, they remind us that our fundamental vocation is to love the one true God and our many sisters and brothers at one and the same time. Let’s go for a walk today and marvel at all of the trees in our communities, our neighborhoods and in our very back yards. What is more, let’s have the courage to go inside, to look within, and realize that there is a great tree within ourselves just waiting to burst forth in splendor and truth. May the one who was hung on a tree (Acts 5:30) help us to remember that we too are called to be planted deeply in the Spirit, to be opened wide to the living God and to bear the kind of fruit that lasts. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
Father Paul Gillen, CSC (1810-1882)
Civil War Chaplain: “The Damndest Clergyman I Even Saw”
Rev. Paul Gillen, C.S.C. (170th New York Infantry Regiment, October 1856—July 1862)
The following is quoted and adapted from Schmidt, James M. Notre Dame and the Civil War, Marching Onward to Victory, The History Press, Charleston, SC, 2010.
“The first of Notre Dame’s priests to go to war as a chaplain was Father Paul E. Gillen. A native of County Donegal, Ireland, Gillen came to the United States in 1840, probably in his later teens. Shortly before the Civil War, he became a priest and entered the Holy Cross community at Notre Dame.
“When the war broke out, Father Gillen was on university business in the Northeast. Impressed with the number of Catholic men joining the ranks—and concerned with their spiritual well-being—he appealed for permission to offer his services, and Father Sorin granted the request. [He] arrived in Washington, D.C., on July 20, 1861, on the eve of the First Battle of Bull Run, and immediately began his ministry among the soldiers. Although in his late fifties, Gillen – “a tall, thin, spared old gentleman of clerical appearance”—had seemingly endless energy and did not leave the service until after the surrender of Appomattox.
“Gillen preferred to roam from unit to unit as needed. Because of the large compass of his ‘parish’, he needed a horse. Appealing to Father Sorin and Major General George McClellan, he succeeded in not only getting the horse but an ambulance too. He was able to put a bed and a portable altar in the ‘new and unique’ conveyance. Setting the altar ‘within the frame of the bed, [he could] set up the buggy with candles, candlesticks and all requisites for the Mission.’ One solder commented that ‘No matter whether we were on the march or a scout, Mass was always offered every morning at Father Paul’s establishment.’
“Father Gillen’s good standing with the soldiers and officers was marred in 1861 over rumors of drunkenness. The Archbishop of Baltimore and the Bishop of Philadelphia had heard that Gillen was seen ‘in a state of brutal intoxication.’ These prelates requested that Sorin call the chaplain back to Notre Dame. Eventually, the rumors were proven to be false and both prelates apologized for becoming prey for rumor-mongering. Actually, the chaplain acquitted himself with courage on the battlefield. ‘He would frequently expose himself to great danger in order to administer the rites of the Church to the dying men.’ A soldier was impressed that Gillen was not afraid of walking alone behind enemy lines after a battle, and exclaimed that he was ‘one of the damndest venturesome old clergyman I ever saw.'”
The word ascesis literally means “exercise.” This may sound funny to us as we try to imagine how many calories are being burned by the ascetic person who takes lukewarm showers, prays regularly, rises promptly in the morning, or makes any number of small sacrifices throughout a given day, but these are truly disciplines that make one healthy. Indeed, the hours spent jumping rope or lifting weights or running on a treadmill – by which our muscles are challenged and we are physically strengthened – are symbolic of the soul’s deeper need for spiritual sculpting, that is, the revelation of a good and beautiful soul within. And because there are no ankles to sprain or knees to blow out, spiritual exercise – needing only intellect and will and the courage to dig deep! – is a long-term game plan for our lives. Let’s therefore look to the ascesis of Jesus who kept vigil (Lk 6:12), who fasted (Lk 4:2), who went to Church (cf. Lk 4:15), and who prayed on his knees (Lk 22:41) in a way that enabled him to hand over his very body to his heavenly father (Lk 23:46) and thus sound forth the lasting health of resurrected life (Lk 24:31). Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
BROTHER ANSELM (ARTHUR) TATRO, C.S.C. (1891-1989)
Brother Anselm was born in St. Anne, Illinois in 1891. He helped out on the farm and worked at a manufacturing company before he entered Holy Cross in January of 1917. He served on the staff of the Notre Dame Post Office for eight years before going to the Ave Maria Press where he worked as a Linotype operator until 1980. He was so accurate at his work that he was given much of the Notre Dame scientific writing to set into print. He lived in the same room on the second floor of Columba Hall from 1919 until 1981 when failing health forced his true retirement in 1981 at Dujarié House.
Anselm had three hobbies—he loved to hike, collect songs and solve word puzzles. He was the “father” of exercise enthusiasts in Holy Cross. His legendary hikes were not short—they were 20 to 30 miles long, seldom more than a 15-mile radius around the University of Notre Dame. He enjoyed hikes on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays keeping him lean and trim. Often, he would return with a pocket full of change and other items he had found along his various trails. All his booty was dutifully turned in to whoever was the superior that day.
He was in constant good spirits and became known as the smiling-brother of Columba Hall noted for gentleness, kindness and Trappistine simplicity. He would often stop some brother in the hallway asking them if they could name the tune; he then would either hum or la-la-la. The story was also told that when it was time for him to move from Columba Hall to Dujarié retirement house, it was nearly impossible to get into his room. He had stacks upon stacks of South Bend Tribunes and Scholastics in his room—one brother estimated he had not tossed away any paper from as early as 1919!
Upon his death, his directory of prayers was filled with countless cards and slips of paper. One read: “Lord, as I grow older, keep me from getting talkative, give me wings to get to the point, grace to listen to others, keep me sweet, make me helpful since I want a few friends at the end.” He had far more than just a “few” friends. Someone said, “If you seek creative ideas, go for a walk. Angels whisper to a [person] when [they] go for a walk.” Angels must then have been in constant conversation with this good and gentle Holy Cross Brother.
Good biblical interpretation always begins at the literal level. While we know that the veracity of the literal level is a matter of genre – think of how epic poetry differs from history in this regard – the meaning of all texts at that deeper spiritual level is always true. Indeed, the exterior drama simply serves as an invitation to the reader to take the risk of entering into the spiritual depths, and how could that act of trust ever result in anything but truth?! The Cross is the boundary marker that makes this kind of understanding possible. When we make that move from the literal to the spiritual – and what courage is required to undertake that journey! – we are dying to self. In that moment, the certainty, familiarity and comfort of the literal level give way to an openness, vulnerability and receptivity to the Word who is really and truly speaking to us in some distant still point in the soul. Let’s not be content with a perpetually literal perspective on things or a fearful fundamentalist posture in life. Let’s instead allow our restless hearts to feel and respond to those deep promptings of the Spirit. Let’s make the Cross the lens through which we read scripture and thus understand ourselves and our lives. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
Brother Ambrose (John) McCarthy (1905-1935)
Killed in An Automobile Accident*
From the writings of Brother Ernest Ryan, CSC.
Brother Ambrose died on All Souls Day, November 2, just a few months after being appointed manager of the Association of Saint Joseph. Thirty-one years of age he had pronounced his final vows on August 16 after having given every evidence of a most successful religious life. He possessed a keen, well-disciplined mind, able to brush away every interference with the business at hand, and he inspired confidence and respect.
His body lay in the Postulate Chapel overnight before removal to Notre Dame for burial in the Community Cemetery. Postulants watched, a group being relieved each hour; and all, perhaps, learning more during their vigil than they will from any other experience of the Postulate days. Death had struck swiftly; they had seen Brother at Night Prayer and in the morning were told of his death. “Let us be convinced,” said Father Dever’s (John A), beginning a Mass of the repose of Brother’s soul, “of the absolute certainty of death.”
But the impact of even sudden death is softened in the religious life. Brother Ambrose attended Mass and received Holy Communion every day of the short five years he had as a Brother. Every day, too, he had prayed at least three hours in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament; every week he had made the Way of the Cross and a Holy Hour; every summer he had made an eight-day retreat. And shortly before his death he had attended the 40 hours at the College. God gave him five years of preparation; thousands each year do not receive five minutes. Death to the good religious is the crowning experience of life.
*Brother Ambrose met death in an auto accident on the Milwaukee Highway east of Watertown, Wisconsin. Before coming to Watertown, he was stationed at Holy Cross College, New Orleans, Louisiana. His religious name was changed in 1934 from Sulpicius to Ambrose.
My grandmother was quite possibly the most intuitive person I have ever known: without measuring, she could consistently add the exact right amount of pasta to a pot of boiling water; her refrigerator was a collection of dozens of differently-shaped containers of delicious foods that fit just right among the various shelves and drawers; she always had the right thing to say; she always knew the right time to act. In a world that is obsessed with an intellectual and technical version of things, she revealed to me that there is a deeper and truer way to live. Her intuition, however, was not just a personality trait, but rather a faculty of her soul that developed over time through practices like attendance at daily Mass, regular recitation of the rosary, and prayerful reflection. Indeed, this process of removing all of the specks of dust opens up in us a knowledge that is so pure and so good that we will never rely on our exalted discursive mode of thinking again. We can especially trust this intuition if we, like my grandmother, have taken up the interior cross as the purifying agent that refines our thinking and allows resurrected light to shine forth on the other side. Let us therefore take a risk on these depths and become grandmothers in our own right, as we build up the human family with our love. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Sister M. Claudine (Marie) Lederle, CSC (1882-1918)
First CSC Member to die from Spanish Influenza
Marie Lederle was born in Endignen, Germany. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross from Germany in 1905, receiving the Holy Habit on January 12 and the religious name of Sister Mary Claudine. Her first profession was on December 8, 1907 and final profession on August 15, 1911. All these ceremonies took place at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister’s ministry was at Holy Cross Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana from 1906 to 1918. She served in the laundry and helped with the fluting of the big cap–the headdress of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. She also helped in the kitchen and in the Student Infirmary.
In October of 1918 she was nursing a young Minim, Bob Corrigan, who died from pneumonia on October 13. In a letter printed in The Notre Dame Scholastic, vol. LII, no. 3, October 26, 1918, Notre Dame President Rev. John W. Cavanaugh’s words are preceded by the editorial statement that “The following letter of the President of Notre Dame University ought to check any wild rumors about sickness at the University.” Father Cavanaugh writes: “Altogether there are now fifty boys ill enough to require any kind of nursing. These are distributed as follows: The University Isolation Hospital (SATC) 25; The College Infirmary 16; The Minims 1; [and in] St. Joseph’s Hospital 8. At the present time there are just three very sick boys. They have pneumonia. All others are in a very satisfactory condition, and there is no cause for special worry. In general, we have very little of the presence of the so-called Spanish Influenza. I make this statement so as to prevent ignorant and malicious people from frightening the public needlessly and, also, to clip the wings of sensation mongers. I believe that the happy conditions existing at Notre Dame are due to the tireless labors and intelligent care of the Sisters of the Holy Cross.” The following obituary was published in The Notre Dame Scholastic, vol. LII, no. 4, November 2, 1918. “There was general sorrow and regret at Notre Dame on Sunday October 20, at the news of the death of Sister M. Claudine, the gentle and unselfish nurse who for several years past had ministered to the students in the college infirmary. Sister Claudine contracted pneumonia which caused her death, in caring for the sick students. She will be prayerfully remembered by the faculty and students of the University.” Sister Claudine died seven days after Bobby Corrigan. And, finally, in 1919, Father Cavanagh wrote to theologian Francisco Marín-Sola that “we have gone through serious experiences since my last letter to you. The influenza was almost the death of all human joy.”
As living beings with hands and feet, our biology informs our anthropology – we are built precisely for journeying to a destination and being of service to others along the way. Human experience nevertheless shows that we are wayward people whose feet sometimes take us to places that are dead-ends or simply cause us to get stuck in life, while our hands can often be tricked into falling into greedy and selfish patterns. The transparency of the Cross can be a great reminder of our true human identity and motivation for us to change our habits. The very hands that anointed and healed are spread wide and exposed for all to see. The same feet that made those daring steps to Jerusalem, the city of destiny, are nailed in place and put on display. Being conformed to Christ means going through that long process of purification whereby we learn to let go of all of those things in our hands which prevent us from reaching out to others, and to discern being on a pilgrimage from mere wanderlust of the feet. We shall indeed one day put out our hands in trust (cf. Jn 21:18) and run the way of the Father’s commands (cf. Ps 119:32). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Father Jerome Lawyer, C.S.C. (1912-2006)
P.O.W. World War II
Jerry Lawyer was born in 1912 in Dayton, OH and entered Holy Cross in 1930 making perpetual profession in 1934 and being ordained in 1939 following studies at the University of Notre Dame and the Foreign Mission Seminary in Washington, DC. Following ordination, he pursued Arabic and Islamic studies at Catholic University in Washington in preparation for missionary work in East Pakistan (today Bangladesh).
In 1941 he set sail from San Francisco for East Pakistan with a group of 18 CSC priests, brothers and sisters on board the USS President Grant. On December 4, the ship arrived in Manila in the Philippines and all passengers were ordered to disembark. World War II had begun and the ship took off to avoid enemy submarines leaving all the passengers behind.
Eventually, the Japanese captured Manila and all Americans were marched off to a prison camp in Los Baňos. Until liberation in 1945, all the American CSCs suffered physical abuse and starvation. For two years he and Father Bob McKee were kept busy organizing basketball games for young men and boys to keep them off the streets. When liberated by the US forces in 1945, Lawyer recalled “Soldiers entered our barracks, glanced at our flimsy shelters, threw packages of cigarettes on our beds, told us to grab our valuables, not a lot of books or clothing, and to assemble on an open field near the camp main gate where amtraks were waiting for us. We were told to walk fast as the troops set fire to our barracks. Brother Rex raced along while Father Julien, a Canadian Holy Cross priest, who had opened a can of hidden corned beef, began feeding it to Brother Theodore who was very thin and weak. I asked a soldier, ‘Why the rush? You captured the place.’ He told me that there was a battalion of Japanese in a quarry nearby who would reach us quickly. I was being separated from the brothers and Fr. McKee so I told them I would tie a red bandana around my head so I could be identified once we reached our destination.”
Once back in the States and recuperated, Father Lawyer was assigned to assist Father Patrick Peyton in the Family Rosary Office in Albany, NY, and in 1950 he was named the Director of the Family Theater in Hollywood, CA. During this time, he designed 15 half-hour films on the Mysteries of the Rosary and went to Madrid for eight years to oversee their production. They were exhibited in the World’s Fair in Belgium, and for this project he received the Bene Merenti award from Pope Pius XII.
Back in the States he served as assistant provincial to Father Robert Sullivan from 1964-1969 and then was assigned to Christ the King Parish in the South Bronx where he worked for 17 years in a largely Black and Hispanic community. These were some of his happiest years as a priest. In 1986 declining health forced his retirement. He went to Florida for one year and then back to New York until 1998. Returning to Notre Dame, he lived in Holy Cross House until his death. Prior to his death, in 2003, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Stonehill College in recognition for his contribution to the Church and Holy Cross.
Butterflies blossom forth from the soul that is close to the living God. This act of worship – the essence of our eternal life – nevertheless can only ever be the result of a slow and long process of dying to self where that ugly caterpillar spins its own deathbed. Enveloping its entire being, the cocoon indeed is a self-emptying project which demands the worm’s entire energy, effort and focus. Only when all things have been consumed in this single-minded undertaking, is the death final enough for some new and unexpected life to begin. Though we are built for a butterflied way of being, how easy it is to not complete the cocooning process! There are relationships we simply care not to examine, certain habits we never allow ourselves to be conscious of, and attachments that we cannot bear the thought of relinquishing. Yet, the message is unambiguous, the tomb that lets in even the slightest amount of light will spoil the brilliant colors and the glorious emergence of the new creature. Let’s therefore not be afraid to go all the way and ensure that everything is covered in silk. Then, out of this dark and narrow place, that same everything shall taste life for the first time. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
BROTHER THEODORE (DAVID) KAPES, C.S.C. (1901-1995)
P.O.W. WORLD WAR II
Brother Theodore was born in Pennsylvania and at the age of 16 convinced his family that he wanted to join the Holy Cross Brothers. He entered the Congregation in 1924 and taught one year in the States after which he was assigned to Bengal where he taught at St. Gregory High School in Dhaka (Dacca) for ten years. He was a missionary’s missionary: master of all things Bengali. In 1945 he wrote “Memories of Bengal – 1930-1940” and in the Preface he states that “The following collection of incidents, experiences, letters and articles was written in Bengal, India, and they were originally published in The Bengalese. The Diocese embraces a vast territory, including diverse races, tribes, languages and dialects.” The Table of Contents includes 51 entries with articles on everything from jungle trails, monsoon days, “Missionaries are Human,” snakes, Indian music, Bengal’s pagan noises and “The Missionary with His Camera.”
In 1940 he came back to the States for a year of study, and then while heading back to Bengal in 1941 was one of the nineteen CSCs who were interred for four years by the Japanese in Manila. Brother Rex Hennel, one of the missionaries, recalled that in December of 1941, just a month before the formal internment, “Brother Theodore was going along his merry way, making history for all of us. Teddy had obtained a movie camera before we had left on our journey, and he wanted pictures of everything. It so happened that while we were in Manila, he decided to take some pictures of the boat on which we were traveling. That would have been fine, except that the spot he chose to take the pictures was just below a large sign reading Taking pictures in this area is absolutely forbidden. Teddy got the pictures, but the police got him. How Teddy got away with keeping his camera, we do not know. He would not talk about the matter. But he was arrested and did lose the precious pictures he was taking.”
After a year of recuperation upon returning to the States, he went back to Bengal (Bangladesh) for another eight years, and then back to the States for a 34-year assignment at the Ave Maria Press. In 1990 he retired to Columba Hall where he was noted for his continuous work ethic. Not being able to work disturbed him. Gardening was his favorite pastime. He would shuffle around the house or grounds singing to himself or whistling. Although he was very hard of hearing, he always managed to know exactly what was going on. This inveterate missionary was always soliciting money for the missions, collecting stamps to be sold for mission funds, and gathering many things (some not his to give away) to send to the missions. Toward the end of his 94-years he looked very frail as he pushed a wheeled cart around the grounds picking up twigs, but he had the strength of heart to outlast a man 50 years younger.
Hallelujah! O death, where is thy sting? Hallelujah! Why do you seek the living among the dead? Hallelujah! I have seen the Lord! Hallelujah! Horse and chariot he has cast into the sea! Hallelujah! Their eyes were opened at the breaking of the bread! Hallelujah! Now have salvation and power come! Hallelujah! My Lord and my God! Hallelujah! I have been crucified with Christ! Hallelujah! Even if I walk in the dark valley, I shall not fear! Hallelujah! The wedding feast of the lamb has begun! Hallelujah! The Lord is my light and my salvation! Hallelujah! This is the night! Hallelujah! Peace be with you! Hallelujah! Do not be afraid! Hallelujah! He is not here! Hallelujah! He has risen just as he said he would! Hallelujah! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever! Hallelujah! In the twinkling of an eye! Hallelujah! Who can separate us from the love of God! Hallelujah! Every knee shall bend and every tongue confess! Hallelujah! He has been raised from the dead! Hallelujah! Jesus, remember me! Hallelujah! Love is patient! Hallelujah! The Lord is my shepherd! Hallelujah! I am the resurrection and the life! Hallelujah! Ave Crux, Spes Unica! Hallelujah!