The Continuing Scandal of the Notre Dame 88

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.”

Donations can be made online at www.thomasmoresociety.org <http://www.thomasmoresociety.org/ > or can be sent by mail to:

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.

In Christ,

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 .

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  • Mary Kochan

    Interestingly enough in light of the foregoing, this letter was sent out by Father Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, yesterday. Of course, he first needs to demonstrate his personal goodwill by dropping all charges against the campus protesters before expecting to restore the support of faithful alumni.

    Dear Members of the Notre Dame Family,

    Coming out of the vigorous discussions surrounding President Obama’s visit last spring, I said we would look for ways to engage the Notre Dame community with the issues raised in a prayerful and meaningful way. As our nation continues to struggle with the morality and legality of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and related issues, we must seek steps to witness to the sanctity of life. I write to you today about some initiatives that we are undertaking.

    Each year on January 22, the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, the March for Life is held in Washington D.C. to call on the nation to defend the right to life. I plan to participate in that march. I invite other members of the Notre Dame Family to join me and I hope we can gather for a Mass for Life at that event. We will announce details as that date approaches.

    On campus, I have recently formed the Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life. It will be co-chaired by Professor Margaret Brinig, the Fritz Duda Family Chair in Law and Associate Dean for the Law School, and by Professor John Cavadini, the Chair of the Department of Theology and the McGrath-Cavadini Director of the Institute for Church Life. My charge to the Task Force is to consider and recommend to me ways in which the University, informed by Catholic teaching, can support the sanctity of life. Possibilities the Task Force has begun to discuss include fostering serious and specific discussion about a reasonable conscience clause; the most effective ways to support pregnant women, especially the most vulnerable; and the best policies for facilitating adoptions. Such initiatives are in addition to the dedication, hard work and leadership shown by so many in the Notre Dame Family, both on the campus and beyond, and the Task Force may also be able to recommend ways we can support some of this work.

    I also call to your attention the heroic and effective work of centers that provide care and support for women with unintended pregnancies. The Women’s Care Center, the nation’s largest Catholic-based pregnancy resource center, on whose Foundation Board I serve, is run by a Notre Dame graduate, Ann Murphy Manion (’77). The center has proven successful in offering professional, non-judgmental concern to women with unintended pregnancies, helping those women through their pregnancy and supporting them after the birth of their child. The Women’s Care Center and similar centers in other cities deserve the support of Notre Dame clubs and individuals.

    Our Commencement last spring generated passionate discussion and also caused some divisions in the Notre Dame community. Regardless of what you think about that event, I hope that we can overcome divisions to foster constructive dialogue and work together for a cause that is at the heart of Notre Dame’s mission. We will keep you informed of our work, and we ask for your support, assistance and prayers. May Our Lady, Notre Dame, watch over our efforts.

    In Notre Dame,
    Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

  • Joe DeVet

    The Virgin Mary, after whom this, um, Catholic institution of higher education was named, would be rolling over in her grave if only she had not been assumed into heaven!

    Fr. Jenkins is just as political, and as mendacious, as the “honorary” “doctor of laws” who spoke at his commencement ceremony last spring.

  • Kathryn

    Wow. Talk about damage control.

  • hsmarc

    This was the initial thrust, the spearhead if you will, of Obama’s strategy to divide the Church. It is time for the Bishops to speak with one, unified voice, if you support pro-abortion candidates you are outside Jesus’ Church and cannot receive communion.

  • fatherjo

    Stop child abuse: fire Jenkins and (Charlie) Weis (N.D. football coach) while you’re at it!

  • laurak

    Here in Indiana, faithful Catholics were absolutely outraged over this whole thing. We were also upset that half of all Catholics voted for president Obama, to begin with. Catholics who are faithful to the teachings of the church need to speak up and voice their opinions more, especially to fellow Catholics who do not agree with what the church teaches. We let all the little things slide until it snow balls into a major problem and – only then – do we try to do something about it. Then, everyone’s emotions are running high and people do not always act appropriately when their anger is at a peak.

    Our bishops encouraged us to be a PEACEFUL presence there. To pray quietly and be respectful and NOT to cause a disruption there. The reason is because violence or overly aggressive behavior on our part will not change their hearts. It will close the channels of communication and without an open, respectful dialogue our opposing parties are not willing to listen to each other. If our pro-life message can not be heard, if the doors of their minds & hearts shut down, then there is no hope for a conversion of the heart.

    I do not know why these Catholic protesters were arrested? Were they loud, angry & disrespectful? Or were they peacefully demonstrating their opposition to president Obama’s visit?

    President Obama was at least willing to listen to our pope, recently. He said he had some reading to do about life issues, on his plane ride home.

    We need to keep the channels of respectful communications open or it can backfire against us in the future.

  • DWC

    Exhibit A that the efforts are working … hypicritical as they may be from Pres. Jenkins.

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