Sr. Mary Madeleva Wolff C.S.C. (1887-1964)
“Holy Cross Sister Mary Madeleva Wolff (1887-1964), President of Saint Mary’s College (1934-1961) and “the lady abbess of nun poets”, established the first graduate theology school for women. Until the founding of the School of Sacred Theology at Saint Mary’s women had been excluded from the theological profession. For more than a decade Saint Mary’s College School of Sacred Theology was the only place in the world where a layperson, male or female, religious or lay, could earn an advanced degree in Catholic theology. Her impact on the course of religion in U.S. history is not unrecognized though her important contribution is not widely celebrated outside Saint Mary’s College. Wolff had a knack for imagination. In 1941, without consultation, but acting on a moral impulse, she moved to admit to Saint Mary’s its first African American student. Some alumnae were enraged yet Wolff wrote in a reflection, “They told me that as a northerner I did not know what I was doing.” She simply ignored her critics. (Hilton, Saint Mary’s College archives, 1959) Sister Madeleva was also a noted poet and published 70 books. In 1964, one of her last public appearances prior to her death was delivering the Eighth Commencement address at Archbishop Hoban High School.
Venerable Fr. Patrick Peyton C.S.C. (1909-1992)
Venerable Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C. coined the saying, “the family that prays together stays together;” and fostered prayer by millions of people through radio, television, films and worldwide preaching crusades. He became known as the Rosary Priest for his lifelong mission of encouraging Catholic families to pray at home daily and particularly to recite the rosary. Preaching his simple message, he often drew tens of thousands of people to his rallies–sometimes hundreds of thousands. His radio broadcasts, which included religious dramas featuring top Hollywood stars, reached audiences in the tens of millions. His mission, he said, fulfilled a vow he made to the Virgin Mary when he was a seminarian ailing with tuberculosis: if he recovered, he would spread the practice of saying the rosary. He was born in Ireland and came to the United States at the age of 19. He first sought work as a coal miner in Scranton, Pennsylvania, but was not strong enough for the job. He became a church sexton, and then studied at Holy Cross Seminary at the University of Notre Dame and was ordained in 1941. In June of 2001 the formal Cause of Canonization was introduced at the Holy See by Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Fr. Peyton was declared Servant of God. On December 18, 2017, Pope Francis approved the Decree of the Heroic Virtue of Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., thus bestowing on him the title of Venerable.
Brother Marcellinus (Thomas) Kinsella, C.S.C. (1847-1914)
“Brother Marcellinus, one of the ablest and best known teaching Brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross, died Wednesday morning at Notre Dame. To scores of Fort Wayne friends and particularly the students of Central Catholic High School, the announcement of his demise will be received with profound regret” (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, by Helen May Irwin July 30, 1914). “Upon the invitation of Frank McErlain, Brother Marcellinus spent Thursday hunting 8 miles north. The report that no game is left in the state is without foundation, as is also the one that 13 pheasants and 9 rabbits committed suicide upon hearing that Brother Marcellinus was on the grounds. They were the lawful bag of a good day’s sport, as were several squirrels, a young fox and 2 blue-jays” (Scholastic December 20, 1886). “Brother Marcellinus, who for years was head of the Commercial Department at Notre Dame, and who is now director of St. Columbkille’s School, Chicago, celebrated on last Monday, (19th) the Silver Jubilee of his entrance into the Congregation of Holy Cross. At St. Columbkille’s, Chicago, he left behind him, not only golden memories, but a superb company of young men, many of them priests, to cherish his name. For 25 years he has been identified with the cause of education, and few instructors have met with greater success…” (Scholastic March 24, 1894). “Old students of the University will be interested in knowing that Brother Marcellinus, a veteran and much-admired professor of the University in the ‘good old days’ has been recently appointed principal of the new high school recently founded in Fort Wayne, and placed in charge of the Brothers of Holy Cross. There are few teachers who were better remembered than Brother Marcellinus” (Scholastic, 43:30). “Shortly prior to the 70th anniversary commencement at the University of Notre Dame this year, Brother Marcellinus was stricken with apoplexy of the brain and since that time his condition had been critical. For the past week his death had been hourly expected; the final summons came on Wednesday when he passed away at the Community House, where he had been making his home for a year….Owing to his long service as a teacher, over forty years, Brother Marcellinus remained at Notre Dame and during the past year since his retirement from Fort Wayne taught classes in the Commercial Department. His duties were not heavy and he appeared in his usual health until stricken in June. The beloved teacher was about 67 years of age and throughout his long career in the classroom was eminently successful in his activities. He taught at practically all the higher educational institutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross and was a religious of keen intellectual capacity and administrative ability. A number of Chicago’s leading business and professional men were students of Brother Marcellinus and so popular was he with the Chicago Notre Dame Alumni that no reunion was deemed complete unless he was in attendance. His death is a distinct loss to the great Community of which he was a devoted and exemplary member. He was a member of the General Chapter of the Holy Cross Order and participated in all the deliberations of that body for many years” (Irwin, 1914). Gifted with an unusual talent, he had a distinguished career, both as teacher and director of schools.