An associate of CE who is a Notre Dame alumnus received the following urgent information, which we are passing along to CE readers:
Dear Family and Friends:
I am writing to you to share some of my experiences since May 12, 2009, and to ask you to consider taking action in response. The experiences revolve around the University of Notre Dame commencement with Barak Obama, and the ensuing arrests of approximately 90 pro life demonstrators leading up to and during the commencement ceremonies.
When President Obama was invited to be Notre Dame’s commencement speaker and to receive an honorary law degree, I sought to organize a prayer vigil around the convocation center. I felt that Mr. Obama’s presence in the same building that soon thereafter would host the annual International Medjugorie Conference, would cause Notre Dame to lose any blessing it might have, and I felt that surrounding the building and covering it in prayer might protect it and the University. Other prayer vigils were organized, and so I let that idea go. And, while I initially had thought I would be in town for the weekend, I then decided instead to go to Traverse City to be with Patti.
As the commencement week was approaching, Patti kept telling me she felt I needed to be at Notre Dame for the weekend. She said she felt the Holy Spirit wanted me there. I kept telling her I wanted to be with her, and that I would pray from Traverse City during the commencement ceremony. She suggested that I continue to pray for discernment about it.
And that is what I did. I drove to TC Saturday May 9th to be there for Mother’s Day. On the drive up, I prayed the rosary. I prayed the entire trip up (4 hours) and was filled with the desire to dedicate my prayers to the unborn, for their safety and protection, and for an end to abortion.
The next morning at Mass, I was overpowered by the institution of motherhood. I can’t describe my feelings adequately, except to tell you that God’s presence was palpable (as it always is at Mass), and that His institution of motherhood was potent and awesome in my heart. That evening, at Patti’s church, I had a vision of the Blessed Mother holding her baby Jesus, her gaze fixed upon Him in adoration, her arms folded around him in love and protection. The next morning, I was praying again while looking out on the bay (a spectacular view from our home in TC), and I saw Christ’s crucified visage on the water. And what came to me was simply this, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” As I focused on that visage, it became clear to me that the Holy Spirit was telling me to return to South Bend… for what reason I still did not know.
Backing up a step. Prior to heading to TC, I got on the NDResponse webpage, which was the pro life student group organizing the prayerful alternate commencement celebration. We’ve all had the experience of sending an email to a webserver, without knowing whether it will be received or by whom. My message was very simple, “I will be out of town during the commencement weekend, but can offer my home to anyone coming in from out of town who needs a place to stay. Please let me know if I can be of assistance.”
After the Mother’s Day weekend, I received an email from a friend of mine and fellow attorney, Shawn Sullivan. Shawn is taking a hiatus from law practice to get his Master’s in Theology. He is also the one responsible for inducing Father Corpapi to travel to Notre Dame to offer his support and prayers to our Bishop during this time. As many of you know, Father Corapi had not traveled for two years, so this was very important to him, and what a blessing it was for Danny, Seamus, Colin and me to spend time with him.
Anyway, Shawn and I hadn’t seen each other or spoken to each other for quite some time, probably more than a year or two. Shawn’s email was brief, but significant. He said, “This is providential. Your email to NDResponse was forwarded to me. I’ve been trying to find you, but only had your prior law office address. There are pro life people getting arrested at ND for praying on campus… I know you’re familiar with the criminal system, would you be willing to get involved?” (paraphrased).
Father Weslin, the priest arrested on campus carrying a cross and praying the rosary, later referred to this series of events as “divine setups.” And he told me whenever we open our hearts to do God’s will, He’s always out in front of us clearing the way and setting the mechanisms in place to do His work.
So, I came back to South Bend the Friday before graduation. By Friday evening, I was meeting at the jail with Dr. Alan Keyes and a half dozen or so others who had been arrested at Notre Dame for and while praying the rosary. By Monday, I had 14 more clients, including Father Weslin (check out his arrest on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiz4tfjSuPc ).
Within the next several days, I entered appearances for 85 people who were arrested at Notre Dame during the commencement weekend. 50 of those had never been arrested before. Some of those, like Father Weslin, who started the Lambs of Christ, get arrested frequently.
With only a few exceptions, all of their cases are still pending, and Notre Dame’s position has been, to put it bluntly, hard-hearted and audacious.
Father Jenkins has refused to meet with me to discuss how these cases are so harshly impacting so many Christians. Notre Dame’s General Counsel similarly refuses to meet with me to discuss ways to resolve these cases.
In short, the language of tolerance and healing, which was proffered by both Father Jenkins and President Obama regarding the issue of abortion and the manner in which people of faith should treat each other, has shown itself to be nothing but words, at least for Father Jenkins.
Indeed, at my request, our Bishop D’Arcy met with Father Jenkins and tried to impress upon him the importance and value in meeting with me so that Father Jenkins could get a better sense of who my clients are, and how these criminal trials are persecuting them. Father Jenkins was first angered by Bishop D’Arcy’s request, then told him he’d look into it. My subsequent attempts to meet with him and the General Counsel (after Father Jenkins presumable looked into it) have been rejected.
These are some of my clients:
Father Norman Weslin. 78 year old priest, founder of The Lambs of Christ, Widowed to Mary Lou Weslin, whom he loved since the age of 12. Retired Colonel in the U.S. Army, 82nd Airborne with tours of duty in both Korea and Vietnam. Protected the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal on the DMZ during the Korean War. Burned over 75% of his body and told he would die. Mary Lou’s constant vigil saved his life through what his doctor called the most amazing miracle he’d ever seen. Heads a pregnancy crisis center, the Mary Lou Weslin Center, which has provided care to some 250 women and their children.
Ms. Norma McCorvey. Jane Roe in Roe v. Wade. Told her attorney she did not want to continue with her case, and did not have an abortion. Converted to Catholicism and is now an international pro life speaker.
Dr. Alan Keyes. Former Ambassador, and current national figure. Told me he believed it would be a sad and terrible thing for Notre Dame to no longer be able to call itself Catholic. Said his purpose in coming to campus was to witness to the most fundamental truths of the Catholic faith, and by his witness, to unharden the hearts of those who are endangering Notre Dame’s Catholicity.
Dr. Greg Thompson. Radio talk show host and former gubernatorial candidate in Missouri.
Dr. Monica Miller, PhD. Head of the theology department at a Catholic College in Michigan.
Sister Lois, one of two nuns arrested while praying the rosary.
A retired professional person and mother, who, on an extremely fixed budget, sent me a book of stamps to help defray the costs of this litigation.
A retired professor who volunteers his time three days a week as a tour guide and tour captain at Sacred Heart Basilica (and had to get special permission to continue volunteering at the Basilica, lest he face another arrest for violating ND’s no trespass policy).
The list goes on and on. Retired dentists and nurses, retired military, retired religious, college students, professionals of all ages, husbands and wives with small children, missionaries… The majority of my clients are elderly, on fixed incomes, and have no prior arrest history. By local rule they have to be present at every court hearing, or have a bench warrant placed upon them. They came to ND from all parts of the country because our Bishop asked for their prayers, because Archbishop George in Chicago asked people to go to campus to pray for ND during the commencement, because so many of our Church leaders in this country asked them to pray for Notre Dame, and to not stand silent in the face of this crisis.
Jack Marie Smith said it best at his initial bond hearing when he told Judge Scopelitis, “We’re an ecclectic group Judge. I’ve met some amazing people, all of whom have hearts of gold and are committed to the pro life cause. It devastates us to think that Notre Dame would honor someone whose policies are so contrary to Catholic teaching. It hurts even more to know that we can never again go on Notre Dame’s campus. I love Notre Dame, have loved it since I was a little kid growing up in Eastern Pennsylvania” (paraphrased).
In the last week I have learned of three clients recently undergoing major surgeries. At least one of my clients has memory related issues. Three of my clients are homeless, and without financial resources, but they found a way to make it here to stand up in prayer for the unborn. Two of my elderly clients told me they would need to hitchhike back east if someone were able to post bond for them. They found a ride home, but have no ability to finance a return trip for their hearings or trials.
I could write stories about each of my clients, and they would all be both heart wrenching and compelling.
Now for my request.
I have affiliated with the Thomas More Society out of Chicago in order to provide legal representation to these clients at no cost to them. Thomas More is a pro life law center in Chicago, headed by Tom Brejcha. It has represented Joe and Ann Scheidler and the Pro Life Action League for over twenty years, including 2 successful trips to the U.S. Supreme Court. It has retained me in the past to challenge an unconstitutional injunction at South Bend’s abortion clinic. I am asking you to make a donation to the Thomas More Society and to designate your donation for the “ND Defendants.”
Thomas More Center, 29 South LaSalle, Ste. 440, Chicago, IL 60603-1548.
Please do not mistake the Thomas More Society in Chicago with the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, which is not involved in these cases. And please designate your donations for the “ND Defendants.”
Also, I am asking that you forward this email to everyone you know who might be willing to make a contribution.
I also ask that you pray for all of us. Pray for these defendants. Pray for Father Jenkins and the University of Notre Dame. Pray for our Prosecutor, Mike Dvorak (a parishioner at St. Pius X and the father of 8 kids). Pray for the Thomas More Society, and pray for me.
Finally, without going into factual details or legal theories, it is my professional opinion that each of my clients is innocent of the criminal charge of trespass. We will be filing Motions to Dismiss all of the cases.
So pray for us in those efforts.
With apologies for the length, and gratitude for your place in my life.
Thomas M. Dixon, Esq.
Dixon, Wright & Associates, P.C.
55255 Birchwood Court
Osceola, IN 46561
(574) 315-6455 office
(574) 675-7783 fax
Follow up from Tom Dixon, sent on Sept. 10
Family and Friends: Just in case you are interested, check out this website, which was recently launched. It will have stories from all of our clients on a regular basis… the nun who was arrested, the priest arrested while singing ave maria… ND’s response.
The site is: www.freethend88.org .