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  Readers Write
     
   

The Changing Family

When I first received "The Changing Family" (HCM, Fall '99) edition of your magazine, I was enthralled. I found the articles interesting, informative and emotional. It was brave and courageous to include a portrayal of a family that has wrestled with the sometimes-isolating challenges of a child with very special needs. I applaud you and Mr. Naseef for this honest and wise story. As a mother and graduate student in special education and social work, I am immensely interested in the ever-evolving family of today. However, I also admit to some sadness upon completing the issue. Reading the profiles, although inspiring, served to emphasize the almost insurmountable obstacles I face as a single parent.

My husband of almost 15 years unceremoniously removed himself from our family soon after the birth of our fourth child. He left the area and has little contact with the children. Although divorce is not a statistical rarity, it presents me with a variety of problems both mundane and heart-wrenching. Take, as just one common example, the recent "Daddy and Me" night at my child's nursery school. There were printed invitations and a list of events in each child's cubby on the day following the Thanksgiving vacation. I was speechless. How could this group of otherwise intelligent and enlightened teachers be so unfeeling? 

I think the answer speaks to our ability to remove ourselves from each other's pain. It also reminds us of the complacency we allow ourselves in the affluent suburbs. Even in the year 2000, I know relatively few divorced women in my community. I am still considered a rather unlucky anomaly.

Of course, all these issues are complicated by the fact that I am a faithful and practicing Catholic. Let me first assure you that my parish priest was supportive and loving during the horrible process of dissolving my marriage. He made great concessions in our parish's First Holy Communion ceremony so as not to emphasize my status. (Historically, both parents accompanied the child to the altar. That part of the ceremony was eliminated from the Mass.)  However, I am still confused and conflicted about my role as a divorced Catholic. One of my children came home from CCD and informed me that I could not receive Communion during Mass because of the divorce. (I can only hope she misunderstood her teacher's explanation.) Still, there are many relevant questions. What if I want to marry again? Do I seek an annulment? Does this somehow disrespect my original vows or my children? Would I ever marry outside of the Church? How do I marry outside the Church and still try to raise my children as devout and respectful Catholics? Do my parish and my God understand it when I don't ask my children to attend Mass on Father's Day? Quite naturally, the homily on that particular day concerns itself with fathers and family. My children were emotionally devastated during the last Father's Day Mass. What of the resentment I feel given that I am the individual who stayed in the family? He left! Why must my Church force me to grapple with these questions at all? 

Holy Cross is a microcosm of the larger world and, at its best, an ideal toward which we strive. We all struggle with very real life problems in a sometimes unyielding and difficult world. As Holy Cross graduates, however, we need to make an earnest effort to urge on and support those in need. 

Is there a story here? Perhaps in a later issue of Holy Cross Magazine I'll read of the obstacles that a single parent encounters. Children are unyielding in the pursuit of their needs and wants. How do I meet these needs and still maintain at least some semblance of sanity? What of my academic studies? On any given day, my studies must be put second, third, or even fourth. A carpool to Little League or an ill pet must be attended to immediately. Attending to an academic article must wait for a calmer moment. The reality is, of course, those calmer moments do not materialize often enough. By the time I am ready for bed at night, I am mind-numbingly tired. I often lose the ability to form words and speak by 9 p.m. I am sure it is the same for many single parents. And I am sure there are many of us among our alumni.  

Again, thank you for a wonderful edition. I love the magazine's new format and courageous subject matter. Keep up the good work!

Judi Ford '80
Pound Ridge, N.Y.

"Crusaders"

I note that we have a tempest in a teapot going on concerning the term "Crusader," (HCM Spring 2000) with some alumni feeling strongly that there are immediate connotations of rape, pillage, slaughter and a general antithesis of Christian values associated with the Crusades. 

Well of course those bad things did happen and the Crusades can readily be seen from the vantage point of history as not serving God or Man that well, no matter how ideal the intent of those involved may have been.

To which one might say . "So what?" If no term can be used as positive unless everyone to whom it was applied was a paragon of virtue, then we will instantly have to retire terms like "America," "President," and "Pope," and cease any use of mere human beings like Washington, Lincoln, Churchill or Kennedy as objects of admiration and examples to be admired and imitated for their virtues and achievements. 

There seems to be a lot of confusion over the difference between having ideals and the perfect practice of ideals. The image of Crusader has been one of a person ready and willing to sacrifice, suffer, and fight for some principle, for something larger than himself, for a Good not just himself or his immediate circle but for the greater community. The sad fact that there are usually flaws, sometimes major ones, in any effort for the Good does not detract from the ideal. 

One might also mention the inappropriateness of judging people of a distant time and place too harshly by the standards of modern day. The Middle Ages were not a gentle time by any standards and warfare was then, as it is now, the most brutal activity conducted, so we can scarcely be surprised that rape and pillage occurred. (Note that in Kosovo the incidence of horrors was all too well known, so we can confirm that human frailty and occasional propensity for Evil are with us still.)

  So I do not feel anything but pride in the idea of being a Holy Cross Crusader and I reject the political correctness craze that seems to be sweeping over us. There have to be a lot more things worthy of our attention than minor issues of nomenclature and the hypersensitivity that leads some to overreact to them. 

R.J. Del Vecchio '64
Fuquay-Varina, N.C.

I had a very positive response to the letters from Ms. Martha Delaney '86 and John Foraste '67 in the Spring 2000 issue of the magazine. For years, decades, I have avoided the term "Crusader" in any way available when speaking of Holy Cross, my Alma Mater that I love so deeply. Known to be rather outspoken, I actually lacked the courage to bring this topic to the attention of fellow Cross alums. I didn't want to acquire the label "radical." However, now that two other grads have made the subject a matter of public record, I'd like to be numbered among those who oppose the continued use of the term "Crusader" when linked to Holy Cross.

While I'm sure there were some devout, idealistic Christians among those who journeyed to the Middle East to reclaim the Holy Land, the more one explores the history of those ventures, the more one sees that perhaps the overwhelming majority had other interests. They enjoyed killing. Still worse, in their pursuit of victims, they had two "Hobbies": rape and pillage! The tragic history of the Crusades has been passed down for centuries by the Arabs/Muslims. I'm sure that some of the problems that plague the Middle East today have their roots in the horrors committed in the name of God/Christ by these knights wearing the cross of Christianity. 

While there are most certainly more important issues facing the next administration on Mount St. James, I hope that this will be reviewed with all seriousness very soon. I did not attend Holy Cross to be labeled as one who places himself proudly among the hordes that raped the Holy Land.

While "Crusader" is objectionable to the extreme for me, I do not have a problem with "In Hoc Signo Vinces." This phrase has its origins with the Roman Emperor, Constantine, not the Crusades of a later time. Constantine was given the sign while defending the Empire from heathen masses bearing down on Rome in the fourth century, I believe. 

Robert P. Trudel '64
Haddam, Conn.

Interesting dialog about whether Holy Cross wants to continue to be identified with some "Middle Age" hackers and pillagers. Even the Hospitalers who tried to heal under the aegis of the Maltese Cross did more to dismember than to cure. And I can't imagine that the Holy Cross motto would sound too inviting to folks whose forebears lay in the paths of the Crusades, or for that matter, to folks from anywhere else where people entertain different points of view. Perhaps the birds on the escutcheon should fly away, too. That is not to trivialize any of this, either. People are writing in and asking if words and symbols chosen a long time ago properly reflect what the school has become and is today. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to step back two or three millennia to a time that might better reflect the origin of some of the College's more classical roots-roots that go back to the cradle of western civilization in ancient Greece-roots that are just as strong and even more meaningful in coping with the issues of today as they were thousands of years ago. The modern "warriors" could then still have their spears, but the "thinkers" would now have their thoughts.

Anyway, as to the current Holy Cross colophons, mascot and motto, I agree, their time has come. 

David Golia Paladin '70
Mineola, N.Y.  

A chill struck my heart when I saw that political correctness had infiltrated the spring issue of Holy Cross Magazine (Page 79). No more "Crusaders"? The Oxford Dictionary defines a crusader as one who takes part in a campaign against something he believes to be bad. Are we to be discouraged from doing that any longer? I seriously doubt that any Holy Cross student or graduate imagines dedicating his or her life based on ancient history. Rather, they see their lives lived in the present and dedicated to properly campaigning against those forces that are perceived as "bad." "Crusade" on, I say!

Then we are urged to strike down and out In Hoc Signo Vinces. Maybe I missed something way back when, but I assumed that the Signo referred to The Cross and that we were pledging to go out into the world and try to conquer such things as injustice, intolerance and ignorance. Did I miss something in my war-shortened undergrad years?

Please, can't we stick with what we have?

Leo Hession '45
Needham, Mass.

Athletics Issue

Congratulations on the fine spring issue of Holy Cross Magazine. We noticed with sadness the death of Joe Mullany '49.We would like to point out that, prior to coaching at Providence College, Joe coached at St. Mary's Academy in Glens Falls, N.Y., before entering the FBI. 

Thank you for the excellent job on the magazine.

Daniel F. O'Keeffe, M.D., '42
Glens Falls, N.Y.
John Reardon, Esq., '41
Glens Falls, N.Y.

Please recognize Bart Sullivan, track and field coach for 50 years. Like many great teachers, he gave us lifelong lessons through example and his total devotion to us and to Holy Cross.

Primarily, Bart instilled good sportsmanship and humility in victory and defeat, traits too often lacking in some coaches and pro athletes today. 

Paul R. Murphy '55
Hyannis, Mass.

"Con" Hurley '29

I want to commend you on an outstanding Spring 2000 issue. The great athletic traditions at the Cross are about much more than nostalgia and speak to the school's great tradition for excellence and sportsmanship.

I specifically liked the wonderful piece on Cornelius Keefe Hurley '29. I have been very privileged to work with Connie Hurley in the writing of a 63,000-word first draft of his autobiography. Your piece touched on several of Connie's amazing accomplishments. Some others are: his meeting with Alexander Graham Bell when he was a boy; having dinner with Babe Ruth and two of Connie's baseball teammates at the Cross, in 1929; his selecting a fellow Hale and Dorr attorney, Joseph Welch, who brilliantly put an end to Sen. Joseph McCarthy in a confrontation televised live to the nation; his representing Ted Williams in his divorce proceedings, in spite of pressure from fellow Catholics; his brilliant career in antitrust law; and many other colorful and notable achievements. 

The first draft of this book, entitled The Glory of My Friends, is currently being reviewed by the foremost authority on 20th-century American history and by a number of publishers. Not just as Con's co-author, but as a student of history, I would recommend this book for any course in current American civilization. 

One other comment: I know that a review of Holy Cross athletics could not include, in one magazine, all of our great athletes. One omission I cannot resist mentioning, though, would be that of my classmate, Tom Greene, who quarterbacked our football team to consecutive one-point wins over Syracuse, and missed an upset over Penn State by less than a yard, a win which could have meant a trip to the Gator Bowl. Tom was also an All-American lacrosse forward and played in the American Football League for several years, in spite of an arm injury. 

Please keep up the great work. The magazine is setting a tone for growth and achievement.

Tom O'Neil '59 
Guilford, Conn. 

 

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