I don’t have any of the transcripts or videos from the rally on Sunday yet, but I am ready to reflect on the events with the immediate excitement now wore off a bit.
The first speaker was the Rev. Wilson Miscamble, CSC, a holder of multiple graduate degrees from and a current professor of history at the University. This talk was absolutely amazing; I turned to a friend after it was over and we just looked at each other and said “wow…”. He really fired up the crowd; it was a great way to start the whole event (except for Mass, of course).
Fr. Miscamble gave a brief history of the University and the trials Fr. Sorin had to go through to build up Notre Dame. He also gave a brief synopsis of what we would be missing by not listening to Obama’s speech. He would tell us that, for instance, he was taken care of by Catholics as a youth, he would speak of our debt to Father Hesburgh, and he would even describe that he was influenced by Catholic social teaching. I have not yet listened to the speech, but a friend told me it was spot on.
The speech was really quite moving and it really fired the crowd up. Then the announcement was made that a special guest was arriving, and lo and behold, from the edge of the quad walks Bishop D’Arcy. The crowd cheered him all the way across the quad, and up to the stage. He did not say very much, but it was powerful. He said that he was inspired by the prayerfulness of the students he had encountered the night before at adoration and the rosary. “This is the place for the Bishop,” he said. Reflecting further on this, it must be a slap on the face of Fr. Jenkins. For the Bishop to avoid the commencement ceremony of his local Catholic University, and instead attend the alternative “counter-commencement” must (or should) be disheartening to Fr. Jenkins.
There were other speakers as well. Chris Godfrey, Super Bowl winner, who received his Law degree from Notre Dame, spoke on the importance of standing up for life. Lacy Dodd told her moving story about getting pregnant out of wedlock in her senior year at Notre Dame, with her 9 year old daughter on stage. She is set to open the first of its kind dormitory for pregnant college girls at Belmont Abbey College. Elizabeth Naquin Borger, an ND graduate, spoke about the Women’s Care Center.
Fr. John J. Raphael, SSJ, who graduated from ND in 1989, spoke quite directly on the importance of witnessing to life. His speech was also quite direct and poignant. He spoke as a minority, being African American himself, and drew the obvious connection between rights for all races and for the unborn. He had plenty of zingers, especially pointing out the audacity of claiming to desire the reduction of the number of abortions while increasing the access to them and the funding for them.
Dr. David Solomon, the Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture addressed the crowd as a faculty member. At the beginning of his talk, he called up all the faculty members in attendance. I wasn’t able to be sure, but I think there were about 20 professors standing in front of the stage in solidarity. It was a moving sight. The crowd offered a standing ovation, and in fact, remained standing through the whole address.
The whole event was prayerful, and the focus was correct. I was recently in a discussion with a friend with whom I often disagree. He complained that upon an invitation offered and accepted, people should not protest him. He is the President, after all, and it is an honor. He did not have the benefit of seeing these events of the last weeks unfold in person. He also likely got his news from the secular media. He didn’t realize that the real focus was against the administration of the University. The mentioning of Obama was first and foremost to discuss why he was disqualified to be honored by a Catholic institution. This demonstration was no different.
It was quite edifying to be able to see the 2000+ people who came out to show solidarity with those standing for the Truth, and especially Bishop D’Arcy. I will hopefully get some of those pictures up soon.