The Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame’s Irish Dance team was victorious over the weekend in their competition held in Killarney, Ireland.The group, comprised of eight women — five from Saint Mary’s and three from Notre Dame — took first place during the All-Ireland Dance Championships, competing in the Ceili Club Competition Feb. 21. The team is coached by Deirdre Robinett, a senior at Saint Mary’s who won the 2009 World Irish Dancing Championships, and Katie Grennan, a senior at Notre Dame.This was the group’s first time at this event, said Caitlin O’Brien, a Saint Mary’s senior on the team.O’Brien said even though this was the team’s first time competing together at the international level, all of the girls have competed at the national level before individually. Mary Miller, a Saint Mary’s junior on the team, said it was nice to finally come together with her former opponents to compete.“It was just so exciting competing with all my Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame friends,” Miller said. “We all went to different dance schools and competed against each other when we were younger, and it was awesome for all of us to compete on the same team years later in Ireland.”O’Brien said each competing team performs two choreographed dances, which are judged by a panel of five judges.“In this particular competition, the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s Ceili was the only American team and also the only college team to participate,” O’Brien said.She said the team hoped to represent the Irish background of both the University and the College.“Because the team is comprised of both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students, we hoped that attending the All-Ireland Dance Championships would bring further recognition to the strong Irish heritage that is prominent between the two campuses,” O’Brien said.She said she hopes this victory will bring more attention to the club on the two campuses, like the recognition they have gained in the Irish dancing community.“We also hoped that beginning this tradition would help to provide great recognition to a club that is very much involved with activities between the Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame community,” O’Brien said.O’Brien said the team wants to make the All-Ireland competition a tradition in the years to come.“We hope that our success at the competition has laid a strong foundation for future teams to be sent on behalf of Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame,” she said.The entire dance team at Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame is actually made up of more than 50 dancers, and is “one of the largest and highest quality teams in the country,” O’Brien.The decision to participate in the competition was “made to further perpetuate the growth and improvements that the team has been experiencing since its inception in 2000,” O’Brien said.
The Notre Dame Band’s video on the website had more than 37,000 views as of Tuesday night, making it one of the highest viewed performances in the contest. While band members would love to win the contest and receive all the recognition that comes with the success, most are hoping Notre Dame wins so that they can give back to the community. The band is involved in two separate programs, but both involve bringing music into the elementary school classroom. O’Leary said without these charitable programs, the schools band members visit wouldn’t have instruments or the lessons the members provide to the students. Now, the Notre Dame Marching Band is hoping the entire country will be able to see one of their unique routines on national television and raise money for a good cause along the way. “We actually had planned on performing the song this year before the contest,” Assistant Band Director Emmett O’Leary said. “The song is a classic marching band tune and it worked well for us because there’s a lot you can do with it.” The Notre Dame band submitted a video from the halftime show they performed at Michigan State, which was identical to the halftime performance from the week before at the Michigan game in Notre Dame Stadium. The performance was highlighted by Band Director Dr. Ken Dye’s musical arrangement, which featured the band members arranging themselves into a volcano — complete with smoke — and the leprechaun on a surfboard. The contest was organized by CBS to coincide with the network’s premiere of the reboot of the drama, but the famous theme song has been a favorite of marching bands for several years. “We make an announcement every day to keep voting because everyone is really excited about winning and contributing to the South Bend community in this way,” Garry said. Even when the first half of a Notre Dame football game concludes and the scoreboard isn’t Irish-friendly, students and fans can always rely on the Fighting Irish band to perform at halftime. “Tons of different schools submitted film for this competition,” senior head drum major Glynnis Garry said. “I think we have a really good shot of winning. Our show is really creative and the arrangement is one of the best arrangements we’ve had in a long time.” The desire to give the money back to the community is one of the driving forces behind the band members trying to get the student body and alumni involved in the voting process. The online contest, which takes place at cbscollegesports.com, features videos from all of the competing bands. Fans can vote once a day for their favorite band. “We have our own Bandlink programs, where one is run through the Salvation Army for the public schools in the area and the other one we do ourselves for the Catholic schools,” senior assistant drum major Tim Zintak said. The band is one of 18 collegiate marching bands competing in CBS’s “Hawaii Five-O Marching Band Mania” contest, where university and college bands from across the country arrange, choreograph and film an original performance to the theme of the classic television show, “Hawaii Five-O.” Zintak said he believes the contest is a perfect opportunity for the Notre Dame Marching Band to showcase their dedication to both their values and their art. When the contest concludes on Oct. 4, the band with the most votes will receive $25,000 and the video of their performance will run on CBS. “The Notre Dame band has stated from the beginning that if we win, the $25,000 will go to our charity programs,” Garry said. “We have the students and a couple of staff members go to these underserved areas of town,” O’Leary said. “We’ve also supplied instruments to students in Jamaica through some international groups. There are several great things we could do with this money.” A few band members created a Facebook event titled “Vote for ND Band!” which asks students and other members of the Notre Dame family to vote everyday for the Band of the Fighting Irish’s submission. “This contest really highlights our commitment to service while exhibiting how well we perform,” he said. “I think that perfectly matches up the performance side with the service side that we think and hope the band should be.”
A group of Notre Dame students studying abroad in Europe this semester were able to attend the canonization of St. André Bessette, the first member of the Congregation of Holy Cross to be canonized, in Rome Oct. 17. Last spring, the University contacted students who were planning to go abroad this semester to gauge interest in attending the canonization, according to Fr. Joe Carey, interim director of Campus Ministry. “It was talked about in the spring that our students abroad would be the ones who would go,” Carey said. “We knew a long time ago that the canonization would be in October.” The students completed a short survey on why they wanted to attend the canonization and received an e-mail to notify them whether they were accepted. Some students, such as junior Sarah Kimball, who is currently studying abroad in Dublin, were drawn to the canonization because of prior knowledge of Bessette. “I decided to go because I learned about Brother André in a class last year, and I just thought it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see a canonization at the Vatican,” Kimball said. The group of students who made the trip from different countries around Europe they were in was treated to an all-weekend affair. The University had activities and meals scheduled for the students from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. Junior Monica Townsend, who is studying in Angers, France, said she was particularly touched by a film the group watched about Bessette’s life, called “The Miracle Man of Montreal.” “It was a really great orientation to the life of the man we had come to see,” Townsend said, “and nearly everyone was tearing up hearing the testimonies of the people he had cured of some illness or disability.” The Center for Social Concerns also organized service projects for the students to participate in the day before the canonization, Carey said. The activities helped the students truly understand the services Bessette performed throughout his life. “I went with a group that helped organize and sort medicine for the St. Egidio community, a service group that offers aid and assistance to the homeless and elderly in Rome and around the world,” Townsend said. “It really hammered home the theme of selfless service that Saint André exemplified.” For Kimball, the most powerful experience was being surrounded by thousands of people who were all connected by their faith during the canonization in Saint Peter’s Square, Kimball said. “I always heard about how being Catholic meant you were part of a larger community that spans the world, and we are all connected by being Catholic,” Kimball said. “However, it was hard for me to really grasp that concept until I went to Rome and just saw the sheer number of people from all around the globe.” The canonization was an important one for not only the Congregation of Holy Cross, but also Canadian Catholics, as Bessette is the first Canadian saint. Pope Benedict XVI also canonized five other saints at the same time as Bessette. Excerpts about each saint were read in his or her native language, Townsend said, and after each name was announced, it was easy to tell where each saints’ following was located. Townsend said the fact that the ceremony connected so many people made it an even more incredible experience. “It offered an extreme sense of spirituality and also pride in being part of the Catholic community, a community that really does touch every corner of the world,” Townsend said. “It was awesome that ND could give us that opportunity.” Even though they were thousands of miles away from South Bend, the group of students remained loyal to their school over the weekend by watching the Notre Dame football game against Western Michigan. “It was an incredible mixture of the wonder of being in a foreign country and of the sense of home I get from Notre Dame,” Kimball said.
Through a partnership between the Center for Social Concerns (CSC) and the South Bend Catholic Worker, Notre Dame students will contribute to the local community this school year by recycling aluminum cans. The program, called Miraculous Metals, began this week and will continue as long as students support it, said Michael Hebbeler, director of student leadership at the CSC. There are currently 22 residence halls participating in the Miraculous Metals program, Hebbeler said. Students can collect aluminum cans and drop them in designated boxes in their halls. Catholic Worker staff members, as well as people who receive support from the Worker, will collect the cans and bring them to a local recycling center. The cans will then be exchanged for money, which will support the Worker’s daytime drop-in center, Our Lady of the Road, and the nighttime shelter, the St. Peter Claver House. “There’s a men’s house and women’s house, and they take in the poor and marginalized, so people looking for a home, looking for a roof, looking for community,” Hebbeler said. “The houses open up their doors to those in need, and the people live there.” Most of the proceeds will go to Our Lady of the Road, where people can eat a meal, do their laundry or take a hot shower. The center supports 60 to 130 people each day. The funds raised by the Miraculous Metals program will support the center’s operation as well as building repairs. Hebbeler said these funds are especially helpful in the winter when the St. Peter Claver House provides overnight shelter from cold weather. “They like to keep it small for fellowship and community, and they can take up to 10 men each night,” Hebbeler said. “They provide a roof and bedding and coffee and breakfast in the morning.” Hebbeler also said many Notre Dame students regularly volunteer at the Catholic Worker. He said the visits create “a sense of solidarity of walking together.” “There will be Notre Dame students spending the night with the homeless men as part of weather amnesty,” Hebbeler said. “Some of the money [from the metal collection] may be feeding volunteers. That’s what makes the Worker what it is — this sense of community. Notre Dame has a vital presence in the drop-in center and at the Catholic Worker.” Although the project is just beginning, Hebbeler said the CSC is looking forward to seeing the program’s results. He also hopes more Notre Dame students will become involved with the Catholic Worker. “There’s good enthusiasm from the [residence hall] social concerns commissioners, and we have a great partnership with the Catholic Worker community,” Hebbeler said. “We expect this project to bring more students into the community to see the impact.”
If fans of the hit TV series “Glee” are looking for the show’s signature combination of song, dance and drama at Notre Dame, they will only find one of those features in Notre Dame’s own Glee Club. “Usually when I tell people I’m in Glee Club, they ask me if it’s like the show and I tell them it’s not,” Kyle Nieman, co-vice president of the club, said. “We definitely don’t dance.” Although distinct differences exist between the fictional New Directions of “Glee” and the 70-member, all-male Glee Club at Notre Dame, the latter has not changed their group identity to match the choir stereotype created by the show. “A lot of the guys in the club love ‘Glee,’ and others think it’s the most ridiculous thing in the world,” Michael Eardley, co-vice president of the Glee Club, said. “We haven’t changed our identity because the group has been successful long before Fox created ‘Glee,’ and the show reinforces what we are and were already doing.” A major factor in the Glee Club’s traditional formula for success has been its characteristically hectic Christmas season, which included two performances at the Snite Museum of Art in the past two weeks and Christmas caroling in women’s residence halls at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s. “Caroling in the girls’ dorms at Notre Dame went from 6 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday,” Nieman said. “It’s a huge time commitment, but it’s a lot of fun.” The club’s busiest time of year coincides with the busiest time of the semester in terms of schoolwork, but both Nieman and Eardley agreed that being busy with Glee Club provides an escape from the stress of papers and tests. “Even though this is the time when we all have the most homework, everyone wants Glee to sing for their events,” Eardley said. “I think it’s doable because we’re basically 70 best friends, so knowing you’re all in it together makes it less of a personal sacrifice from your studies and more an opportunity to be with people you want to spend your time with.” The Glee Club’s Christmas season will culminate with three concerts in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center Saturday, and all proceeds will go to the Center for the Homeless and the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, Eardley said. “The concerts take up a lot of time on Saturday, but we don’t see it as giving up our Saturdays because the concert proceeds go to a good cause,” Eardley said. “It takes prioritizing and time management skills, but it’s worth it.” Nieman said the concerts will feature a wide variety of Christmas songs, including traditional tunes like “Sleigh Ride” and “Jingle Bells.” However, the highlight of the concert program for many Glee Club members is singing a number of nontraditional carols. “We are singing calypso and Latin American carols, but one of our favorites is an African song that includes minimal choreography,” Nieman said. In addition to participating in all of Glee Club’s performances during the year, the 12 members of The Undertones, Notre Dame’s all-male a cappella group, will perform their biggest concert of the year Friday night. Nieman, a member of both groups, said The Undertones have been giving small concerts in female dorms to promote the main concert, which will feature mostly pop music arranged by members of the group. These concerts also prepare the group for its winter break trip to Vail and Denver, Colo., for a week of singing and skiing. Despite the Glee Club’s packed schedule, both Nieman and Eardley said they believe the members of the group enjoy the spirit of the Christmas season more than any other time of year, especially because they spend so much time with each other. “Christmas is definitely the best season, and I think most of the guys would agree,” Nieman said. “We work hard to learn all the music, but it’s a blast because we have a good time as ‘brothers in song,’ as we like to call ourselves. The Glee Club’s Christmas concerts will take place at 2:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, and tickets are available the Center or at performingarts.nd.edu.
The search is on for the next great idea. Now in its 12th year, the McCloskey Business Plan Competition invites students, alumni and faculty to submit both profit and nonprofit business ventures, competing for a grand prize of $20,000. Laura Hollis, director of the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, said the competition is on the lookout for unique ventures, especially those geared toward addressing social issues. “There are no impediments and any reason not to enter isn’t good enough as far as I’m concerned,” Hollis said. “If you’ve ever said somebody ‘oughta’ make something, you have an idea. What’s there to risk?” She said the best way to approach the competition, or any business venture, is to consider what problems exist and create innovative solutions to those problems. “That’s what it’s really about — why people are so riveted by Steve Jobs in his passing,” Hollis said. “It’s people who don’t let circumstances tell them no. They aren’t bound by the way things are always done.” Registration for the competition is now open, Hollis said, and the cutoff for submissions is November 7. The competition involves three stages: an open call for submissions, a semifinalist competition and finalist presentations in April. “Last year, we had 120 submissions,” Hollis said. “67 moved on from the first stage and were then narrowed to 12 semifinalists. The finalists then gave a presentation before the judges in April.” The Ideas Challenge, which focused on entrepreneurship, kicked off the competition in September, she said. “They had to stand up for 60 seconds and say, ‘Here’s my idea,’” Hollis said. “That’s honestly the hardest part for most people.” Hollis said the competition seeks ventures that have the potential to make both social and commercial impacts. “Last year we fused together the McCloskey Business Competition and the Social Venture Competition,” she said. “This gets away from the notion that commercial and social ventures are completely different. We want commercial ventures to have more social impact and social ones to have a strong sense of fiscal sustainability.” In addition to fusing the two competitions, the Gigot Center also streamlined the competition’s process, she said. They decided to abandon a traditional 20-page paper on speculative sales, required in previous years, opting instead for a process that cultivates confidence and experience. “Most collegiate ventures are in their early stages so we’ve taken on more of a handholding process at each step,” Hollis said. “We’re also beefing up a lot of in-kind support prizes which are more helpful for them than just handing them a check.” While only a few are designated winners in the McCloskey Competition, it can act as a launch pad for other participants, Hollis said. Hollis said competitors have worked in the past to answer pervasive issues in health and medical, technology, social plans, literacy and several other topics. “Can you come up with something that solves a problem or meets a need?” Hollis said. “When push comes to shove, you go about answering it and that’s more important than the prize.”
Just hours after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, photos and other media began to collect in commemoration of the tragedy that had just occurred. On Monday, University of Regensburg German professor and author Ingrid Gessner described these remembrances as “digital humanities” and discussed their impact on the way the nation grieved after the attacks. “An unofficial record of immediate responses should not be lost or disregarded,” Gessner said. “Spontaneous memorials at Ground Zero bared a sacred quality of standing with the dead. Also, missing person fliers represented another form of spontaneous memorial. At the moment they were put up, they became expressions of prayer and hope.” The New York Times recognized this unconventional type of memorial and began dialing the numbers on posters, compiling stories and publicizing each one. “They promised that all profiles will remain on their website indefinitely,” Gessner said. “The portraits have become a memorial of virtual presence.” Eventually, permanent memorials were constructed both locally and internationally. These memorials all used similar structural plans but reflected different concepts. “Memorials should not enshrine any particular interpretation of the past, but invite visitors to use their memory,” Gessner said. “Memory can assume an active role and allow for renewal and healing. There is no shared narrative about 9/11 itself, so there is a lack of a definite interpretation.” Certain aspects of memorials allow for such individual interpretation while still encompassing the collective experience of the event. Names, empty space, trees, walls, light and water are among the most common attributes of memorials, Gessner said. “Emptiness allows a descent into memory and is a primary design element,” Gessner said. “Trees display liberty, rebirth, possibly even resistance. Water is the most common feature, and the two cascading sunken pools in the Ground Zero Memorial encompass the footprints of the two towers.” The New York Ground Zero Memorial features all of these elements, the most iconic being the annually-lit 88 searchlights outlining the building footprints, creating two vertical columns of light in place of the towers. Although New York is home to the largest and most famous memorial for 9/11, other countries have created off-site memorials. The Donadea 9/11 Memorial is located near Dublin, Ireland, and specifically honors a firefighter from the area who died in the aftermath of the attacks. “Donadea built a scaled replica of the Twin Towers, carved in blocks of limestone,” Gessner said. “They are surrounded by newly planted oak trees and contain all the names of the New York firefighters and policemen and women [who died].” Similarly, Moncalvillo, Spain, built a 9/11 memorial to commemorate a member of its community who worked in the financial district of New York and perished on 9/11. “There is a contextual relation by remembering 9/11 through the tragic death of individuals who had ties to these specific hometowns,” Gessner said. Other off-site memorials are located in Oberviechtach, Germany; Seoul, South Korea; Padua, Italy and Jerusalem, Israel. Nearly all of these memorials contain actual pieces from the building, creating a physical tie to New York. Each memorial reflects the transformation of the Twin Towers into icons through the media coverage following the events. “This contains a transformative potential,” Gessner said. “Change is only possible in a certain continuation of form. Minimalist structures function as the most effective form of memorials.”
Boxing experts like to refer to the sport as “the sweet science,” but head University Physician Dr. Jim Moriarty is using the sport for some real science. Moriarty said he has been studying the effectiveness of a variety of concussion diagnostic tests with members of the Men’s and Women’s Boxing Clubs as research subjects. Nate Walker, RecSports club sports program coordinator and boxing coach, said it makes sense for the boxing clubs to contribute to a better understanding of the “hot button issue” of concussions. “There’s so much we don’t know about concussions, and we have a great sample size and the ability to collect data,” Walker said. “We’re hoping to be part of the solution, to be able to keep our boxers as safe as possible.” Moriarty said the research project consists in administering common concussion tests, especially those medical professionals use during games, and then comparing the results of those tests to data collected from the bouts and reports of any confirmed concussions. The tests Moriarty evaluated are a computerized test provided by Axon Sports, the King-Devick test, the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2 (SCAT2), a balance test and a voice recognition test being developed by University researchers. Moriarty said it is important to determine just how accurate these testing methods are, how well they detect a concussion when one occurs and how well they rule out a concussion when one does not, so that team trainers and doctors can make the right decisions for athletes. “Right now, these tests – King-Devick, SCAT2, balance, computerized assessment – are considered the standard of care, or the best procedure, for diagnosing concussions,” Moriarty said. “The key for us is if you’re a physician on the sidelines, you’d like to know the tests you’re running are reliable. There are symptoms that confirm concussions, but most people don’t have that. Most people have the lesser symptoms which cause you to have doubts whether you’re making the right choice or not.” Two things that make this study unique are a control group comprised of boxers and getting “best effort” from the athletes, Moriarty said. Moriarty said most concussion studies compare the test results of people with concussions to people who didn’t suffer any head trauma. He said this made the Bengal and Barak Bout study important because it compares people who received blows to the head and suffered concussions to those who received blows to the head and did not suffer any concussions. “You have to have a similar group of people to see if the tests really work,” Moriarty said. “One ought to be able to tell the difference between those who were hurt and those who were not.” It was also “critical” that all the boxers gave their best effort on the baseline and subsequent tests, Moriarty said. “Best effort” on all the post-bout tests was ensured by requiring the boxers to take the tests after every bout and not allowing them to advance to the next round without passing the tests. He said the success of their strategies to elicit best effort is reflected in the fact that the results for losers and winners were comparable. The “practice effect” was also an important part of the study, Moriarty said. The practice effect is the intuitive fact that “the more times you take a test the better you get at it” and it is important to take it into account when comparing an athlete’s baseline to his or her later results. Moriarty said requiring testing after every bout ensured everyone experienced the practice effect and it could accordingly be properly accounted for and analyzed. Walker said in order to evaluate the possible causes of the various test results, the matches were videotaped and microchips that wirelessly transmit information about impact and rotational forces were inserted in the headbands and mouthpieces of the boxers. Two important questions the study sought to answer by comparing the tapes and impact data with test results were “Does the number of hits matter?” and “Does it matter how hard you are hit?”, Moriarty said. Moriarty said that from his review of the data thus far there does not seem to be a significant correlation between the number of punches or the impact force and the occurrence of a concussion. He said the data seems to indicate instead that everyone may have their own inherent “threshold” that determines what amounts and types of force will cause them to experience a concussion. Moriarty said Bengal Bouts participants have been studied the last three years and Baraka Bouts participants for the last two. This year he said he is analyzing the accumulated data before obtaining more, but he said the testing will likely start up again in the future. Walker said the computer test was mandatory, since there had to be some way to monitor all competitors for concussion symptoms, while participation in the other tests for the research project was voluntary for all student boxers. He said on the whole they were “very receptive” toward the research. “We had a great turn out for men’s and women’s, with 200-plus men and about 100 women who chose to opt in,” Walker said. Moriarty said there were also students who helped in administering the concussion tests. He said the work of these students was “outstanding” and integral to the research project. Walker said it is important to keep the boxers in Bengal and Baraka Bouts safe so the programs can continue their humanitarian mission. “We’re here to give an opportunity to help Holy Cross missions through boxing, no one is going pro,” he said. “Ultimately, we are working to make this a safer program because we’re trying to make a global impact.” Contact Christian Myers at [email protected]
Former Irish president Mary McAleese discussed her experiences as a primary advocate for the Irish peace process Monday in the McKenna Hall Auditorium.As the first president of Ireland, McAleese served two consecutive terms from 1997 to 2011, ruling the nation during the Troubles, a time ravaged by civil war between Unionists, who were predominantly Protestants, and Nationalists, who were predominantly Catholics.As a leader of a deeply divided nation, McAleese, who was born and raised in Northern Ireland, said the struggle for peace was at the core of her presidency. Describing the theme of her time in office as focused on “building bridges,” McAleese said her role in activism began at an early age.Eoghan Flanagan “I was part of the first generation of young Catholics to have the advantage of upper-level education, and we were now going to apply our brain power to a very dysfunctional society in which Catholics were excluded,” she said.McAleese said she credited her ability to focus on peace building to her foundation of gospel values.“I was fortunate the core of gospel values always pulled me back,” she said. “The voices of calm helped me. I was angry enough to go the other way [toward anger].”McAleese said her strategy to build peace in Ireland involved forging relationships between opposing Protestant and Catholic communities.“Peace building is essentially about relationship building,” she said. “It starts with a belief — proven to be well-founded — that people can change their minds, which is very important, because otherwise, there would not be a point.”While it took years to penetrate the core of the sectarian divide, McAleese said she made progress by emphasizing her goals of building and sustaining relationships for the long run.In April 1998, the Irish government created the Belfast Agreement, ending the civil war. Although McAleese described the agreement as fair and decent, involving huge concessions on both sides, she said it lacked perfection.A main hindrance to the peace-building efforts is a reluctance to forget the past, McAleese said.“The demography of Northern Ireland and its social life is still strongly related to the past,” she said. “Ninety-three percent of all people inhabit areas essentially defined by their religion, [making] social integration very difficult.”McAleese said the current sectarian environment of Northern Ireland lacks opportunity for truly meeting and befriending one another. She said the current situation in Ireland is reflective of the recent Scottish referendum.“We are working toward a referendum, and when it happens, I hope it happens like the Scottish referendum, a democratic dialogue,” she said.Whatever future Ireland holds, McAleese said her greatest wish is that it is conducive to the human dignity of all its inhabitants.Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article misquoted McAleese as saying she would not favor an Irish nationalist approach if there was a referendum on the future of Northern Ireland. In fact, she was responding to the idea of an independent Northern Ireland. The Observer regrets this error.Tags: former Irish president, Irish, Mary McAleese, Northern Ireland, peace
Mary Clare Donnelly | The Observer Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson autographs a book at her lecture Wednesday evening in the Dahnke Ballroom. In response to a question from Monta, Robinson said one of her principle religious beliefs is that “we are among souls.”Robinson said her beliefs on higher education follow from this principle.“For one thing, I think there would be a big infusion of mutual respect, inevitably,” she said. “ … We have to realize that to say that someone is a soul, to say that something is mysterious, by itself has to make us alert to the fact that people express themselves unconsciously in many cases — but beautifully.”Robinson said she believes in being open about what she believes.“How many people who could write about their religious faith, who would want to, who would create a beautiful religious art out of the fact of their faith, are stymied and silenced because they are afraid that someone might say ‘I don’t really believe any of that,’” she said. “There is no reason in my experience to keep people from being absolutely candid about what they believe.”A four-student panel, with both undergraduates and graduates, had the opportunity to ask Robinson questions. One doctoral student, Jillian Snyder, asked Robinson about Calvinism, a theology that heavily influences Robinson’s writing, and its impact on American discourse today.“I think he’s still very palpably present in a lot of American poetry,” Robinson said. “I think that in a way he got himself embedded in the culture … He says that anyone who confronts you is God. It is the image of God, and this means that God himself is attentive to how you react to the fact that this image is presented to you. God has an intention with every human encounter you have.”As the final question, a member of the audience, Fr. Joe Simmons, referenced an image in one of Robinson’s essays of “washing off baptism” and asked Robinson from a critical point in the Church how can we give imagination to the world and faith. In response, Robinson said religion is a central possession in a civilization.“Anyone has the possibility of making [religion] the best possible expression of this yearning that human beings have,” Robinson said. “Religion is profoundly historical. It’s not historical in a way that traps you in it, you know what I mean? If you are deeply committed to what you and other people find most beautiful in it and are loyal to that, then you’re doing something that the civilization yearns to have you do.”Tags: Notre Dame Forum, Pulitzer Prize, religion Notre Dame Forum’s first lecture of the year, titled “The Catholic Artistic Heritage: Bringing Forth Treasures New and Old,” featured Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson. In a discussion moderated by English professor Susannah Monta, Robinson spoke on themes such as religion and beauty in her novels and how these themes immerse themselves in contemporary society and culture. “Beauty is the signature of the presence of God,” Robinson said.