Letters to the Editor

Please  note: The letters immediately below are those that appear in the print edition of Holy Cross Magazine. But there are additional letters at the end of this page that did not appear in print due to space restrictions.


A New Gold Standard

Accepting your invitation to comment, I have some initial reluctance lest my comments might go to your head. More important, though, is to let you know that I personally consider the Summer 2012 issue to be a turning point and new "gold standard" to live up to in the future.

First, Holy Cross Magazine at long last gives proper attention and placement to the Sanctae Crucis awardees (Page 30), and what's this? Actual profiles of the awardees with photo spreads? Well done! (Warning: prior award recipients will be more than slightly jealous, and who can blame them?)

I loved the story of the Herrick family and the Holy Cross-educated doctors who were involved in the twins' care-perfect and inspirational (Page 44). And it appears the Class of 1962 alumni are involved and busier than ever in retirement ... ditto! I also love the color, energy and joy that emanates from the Milestones section.

Altogether, this issue presents as a "keeper." A near-perfect blend of information-uplifting and inspirational, mixing the past, present and future in a very nice balance.

Last, but far from least, in my personal list of heroes is Fr. Brooks. Fewer finer and unselfish humans have ever walked the earth. That you held the presses to fit in the tribute on Page 88 is a testament to your common sense, sensitivity and sense of proportion. I am having the inside back cover framed for my office.

So, job well done. Excelsior! How are you going to top this? That is the challenge that waits ahead.

Bill McGovern '74
Lafayette, N.J.

Editor's Note
Our team certainly blushed after reading this letter-thank you for the kind words. We hope you will enjoy the tribute to Fr. Brooks starting on Page 54.


Justice Thomas

In regard to the letters from Michael Maloney, M.D., '67 and Joseph Carey '73 in last issue, I for one consider Clarence Thomas '71 to be one of my very few heroes and a living profile in courage. Relentlessly castigated for failing to toe the liberal line and accused of being a traitor to his race, he remains impervious to the onslaught of his "tolerant" liberal critics. Rather than imposing his "social values" on the country, Justice Thomas actually limits himself to interpreting the Constitution. I couldn't be prouder that he's a fellow graduate of Holy Cross.

Richard P. (Pat) Mahoney '69
Severn, Md.


I was most disconcerted to read two letters in the Summer issue attacking the character of a fellow alumnus, Justice Clarence Thomas '71, and criticizing the Magazine's editorial judgment in writing about a man who is by any measure the most influential Holy Cross graduate of the 20th century and the intellectual leader of the conservative (i.e. Catholic) Justices on the Supreme Court. As a lawyer, I would love to debate the merits of Justice Thomas' legal positions on complex issues, but that is beyond the scope of this medium.

Based upon personal experience and observation I have come to a deep respect for Justice Thomas, not just for his consistent, originalist legal philosophy but for the man, the mensch, he is. Justice Thomas is truly a great American who cares deeply for the most disadvantaged among us, a milieu from which he arose. I will never forget his 2008 commencement address to the graduates of the Washington (D.C.) Jesuit Academy, a middle school for materially disadvantaged boys from the worst urban environments. His words of love, pride and encouragement and the smiles and hugs he gave the young men who had worked so hard for that day were enough to bring tears to the eyes of this crusty old tax nerd.

Bernard J. Long Jr. '62
Bonita Springs, Fla.


Congratulations for having the courage to print letters (from Michael Maloney, M.D., '67 and Joseph Carey '73) that point out the disparity between the values that Holy Cross attempts to impart to its students and many of the votes of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas '71. As an individual with farmers in both my immediate and extended families, one of the most grating was the decision Justice Thomas, a former Monsanto attorney, wrote allowing that corporation to sue farmers whose corn had been contaminated by GM corn against their wishes. Since corn is wind pollinated, the contamination may have been inadvertent, but the removal of ears from private property, the testing and then suing was and is, from the perspective of the victimized farmers, a conscious form of intimidation often leading to financial destruction. 

Frank Reuter '64
Berryville, Ark.


I was pleased to see the photo of the campus just inside the cover. Some of the buildings I lived or studied in are recognizable, but my how you have grown. I was also pleased to read the letters from Dr. Michael Maloney and Mr. Joseph Carey about Justice Thomas. They said very well what I have felt strongly for many years about my fellow alumnus.

N. Kenneth Furlong, M.D., '47
Arvada, Colo.


Magic Mongillo

I hope Holy Cross Magazine readers enjoyed Al Mongillo's Flashback story about the Holy Cross Dance Band as much as I did ("When the Deep Purple Falls," Page 54, Summer 2012). His love of music runs deeps, and he seems to create special moments wherever he goes. One from the 1980s stands out in my memory: Al and I have been friends since I was 10 years old, so when he came out to see his daughter in Sausalito, Calif., I flew up from Orange County for a visit.

We went out for a walk down Main Street and stopped in a tiny jazz club for a drink early in the evening. There was a three-piece group just jamming, and we were just about the only people at the club when a guy in the group asked me what my favorite instrument was. I said the clarinet, which he had, and I turned and pointed at Al and said, "I'm sitting with a great drummer, if you would give him the sticks to play, you could all make magic." He did, and Al took off and beat out those drums with the other guy on clarinet. I will never forget that wonderful, musical evening.

Linda Salkins
Long Beach, Calif.


The Top 25 Issue

 The photographic collage on the Spring issue's cover ("Top 25 Moments in Holy Cross History") immediately got my attention, particularly the likenesses of President Lyndon Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for I met and chatted with each of them when they visited the College. My personal involvement in two of Holy Cross' "Top 25 Moments" evoked good memories.

     As you reported, Dr. King's visit included an address in the Fieldhouse. On November 9, 1962, as a 17-year-old freshman, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. King. As I recall, it was raining hard, and as he waited in the emptied Fieldhouse for his car, a small group of us, mostly students, had the good fortune to sit down with him and engage him in conversation for about 40 minutes. Dr. King impressed me greatly.

     In June 1964, President Johnson was the guest speaker at the College's commencement exercises. As luck would have it, I was assigned, in my capacity as a Navy ROTC midshipman, to open the door of the president's black Cadillac limousine and escort him to the canopy under which the speaker's podium was located. As the big man alighted from the car, I saluted him, of course. He then extended his right hand and we shook.

     Next, LBJ asked in his Texas drawl, "What's yo' name, boy?"

     "Midshipman Mansfield, sir!" I responded and saluted again.

     I then completed my escort service. Many years later I would wonder who walked him back to his limo after the graduation ceremony.

Chuck Mansfield '66
Westhampton Beach, N.Y.


On Page 35 of the Spring 2012 issue there is a short article on WCHC, Holy Cross' radio station. At the top there is a photo of two men. I am quite certain that the one on the left is the late Donald Sullivan '49, AKA Sully. I never knew Sully as an undergraduate, but I know he was a member of the radio club as well as WCHC.

I graduated in 1952 and was commissioned Ensign USNR. Four days after graduation, I was headed to sea in a destroyer escort out of the Brooklyn Navy department. Sully and I served together for some years and became good friends. After the service, he worked for the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in Washington, D.C. For almost 50 years we got together every summer for a reunion. Sully always brought a gorgeous companion, but alas never did marry. I recall he drove a beat-up old Mustang convertible, and he eventually retired to his native Hartford, Conn.

I, too, was on staff at WCHC, starting as an engineer. I subsequently had a program entitled The Crusader Hit Parade (that was at a time when the Lucky Strike Hit Parade was very popular). Studios were very cramped on the fourth floor of Fenwick, over the infirmary. Fr. John Kelly was our moderator and he was a stickler for doing things in a professional manner. Thanks for bringing back some fond old memories.

Capt. Gerry DeBaun '52, USNR, Ret.
Ft. Myers, Fla.


If, as stated on Page 28 of the Summer 2012 issue of Holy Cross Magazine, the top moment in Holy Cross history is welcoming female students to the College, as orchestrated by Rev. John E. Brooks, S.J.; and if the No. 3 moment is recruiting African American men to Holy Cross, as accomplished by Fr. Brooks, and as detailed in the book Fraternity; and if, as I understand, Fr. Brooks also "saved" the Naval ROTC at Holy Cross; and if it is agreed Holy Cross would not be the educational powerhouse it is today, nor as financially stable were it not for Fr. Brooks-then I submit the really greatest moment in Holy Cross history is the day Fr. John E. Brooks was appointed President of the College of the Holy Cross.

Frank Marshall '48
Tiverton, R.I.


A Song for Alma Mater

Your magazine is forever sought to complete my mail day. When I turned to Page 88 and read that Fr. Brooks had passed away, emotions cannot describe how I felt.

Fr. Brooks has been a friend to many, but I regarded him as a personal friend. Not long ago, I sent him a copy of a musical I wrote which he noted had been sent to Archives. The next letter included "The Alumni Song," which I wrote during my sophomore year.  Years later, when I met Fr. Brooks in the Bank of America building in San Francisco, I dedicated the song to him:

There'll always be a time recalling

Of all the days we spent, we two;

And the oft-repeated warnings

When a danger was in view.

And we'll remember, Alma Mater,

As your banners proudly toss,

We fought with a vim,

That was dead sure to win,

For thee ever, Holy Cross.

Fr. Brooks had a philosophy that opened the doors of the College to anyone. He shared this quite openly, for he loved Holy Cross. His years at the Cross came after I left and I would have enjoyed his experiences. Would that we had shared our years together.

Col. Louis C. Renaud '41, USAF, Ret.
Roseville, Calif.


Sanctae Crucis Honoree

I just received the Summer issue of Holy Cross Magazine and thoroughly enjoyed reading about the folks honored with the 2012 Sanctae Crucis Awards ... especially John Castellano '71, who lived across the hall from me on Wheeler 2 my freshman year at Holy Cross (1968-1969). I remember John as a very generous and giving individual who made us feel comfortable and welcome-as first-year students on a floor of mostly sophomores. Believe me, this made for an easier transition to college life and was much appreciated.

Incidentally, the Fall 2009 issue of HCM featured our son, Dan, Class of 2000, and his experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Macedonia. My wife Debbie and I were so proud to see this article in the Magazine. Dan and his wife Jillian completed their Peace Corps commitment in 2010, and now teach at an international school in Sohar, Oman. They have a five-month-old daughter, Rory (our first grandchild!).

Mike Kearney '72
Dedham, Maine



Our story about the five student a cappella groups, "In Perfect Harmony," Page 16, incorrectly listed the date that the Delilahs started. One of the original Delilahs, Margaret Post '96, let us know that the group was founded in 1993 by a group of women in the Class of 1996, including Meredith (Michaud) Hargus, Caitlin O'Brien, Heather (Razoyk) Pahigian and Amy Brogna-Baione, as well as Carolyn Flynn '97. "At the time," Post recalls, "there were only two other a cappella groups on campus, an all-male group 'The Naturals' and a female group called 'Seventh Heaven.' "

While we had two of the original Delilahs on the line, we asked what their favorite tunes to sing for a crowd were in 1993. " 'Irish Blessing,' Blind Melon's 'No Rain' and Jackie Wilson's '(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,' " Brogna-Baione reports, adding, "I was-and continue to be-so, so proud of the Delilahs and all that we accomplished during our time there. And I'm very proud that it continues onward! It really was a remarkable group effort among the five wonderful founding women." In case you missed it, we have posted videos of the current a cappella groups performing at http://www.holycross.edu/hcm/acappella.


In our Summer feature about the Top 25 Moments in Holy Cross history, we shared insights from Paul W. Lauf '66, one of the proud Crusaders who earned his B.A. and M.S. degrees from the College before Holy Cross stopped offering master's degrees in 1982. He told us that he "spent all summer 1965 reviewing inorganic, organic, analytical and physical chemistry," as well as scientific German (not gender, as we incorrectly printed) for the ACS Qualifying exams. We apologize for the error.


We received a kind note of correction from Donald Foley '43, who alerted us that we had misidentified him as the gentleman seated with Fr. Brooks at one of the alumni receptions in Florida this past spring (Spring 2012 issue, Page 58). That alumnus is actually Lawrence "Larry" H. Devereux  '51. 


The real Donald R. Foley '43 (right), posing with his son, Donald R. Foley II (left) and grandson, Tyler Foley (middle).



More Letters to the Editor

Letters printed in HCM in the Summer 2012 issue regarding Justice Clarence Thomas '71 sparked a wave concern and praise from other alumni readers. Here is a sampling of those letters that did not fit in the print edition of the Fall 2012 issue.

"A Courageous and Principled Man"

Since the editor of Holy Cross Magazine for some reason made room in the Letters section of the Summer 2012 edition for the rambling submissions of two alumni slanderers of Clarence Thomas '71, I'll take the opportunity to speak in praise of Justice Thomas, a courageous and principled man and jurist, not that he needs my puny voice to do so. I can't help but believe that the late Father John Brooks, S.J., would be quick to do the same.

Marc R. Young '70

"Opened my Eyes"

The summer edition of Holy Cross Magazine opened my eyes to the voting history of Clarence Thomas '71. I agree with Michael Maloney '67 and Joseph Carey '73. Unfortunately, I believe the root problem lies in the lifetime political appointment process for Supreme Court Justices. There is no accountability for their actions, once they have been appointed. Why are elected Senators and Representatives subject to Citizen re-election but justices have free reign for life?

Justices are free to exercise their own agenda without fear of losing their jobs. I agree with Mr. Maloney and Mr. Carey, please profile graduates who work tirelessly every day in accordance with the Jesuit tradition.

Raymond McCabe '66
Marlborough, Mass.


What I Was Taught to Believe

I must respond to Michael Maloney's letter and his criticism of Clarence Thomas' "voting" record on the Supreme Court. 

First of all the Supreme Court's justices don't vote. They render their opinion based upon the Constitution. It is not their place to become social advocates. They must render their decisions based upon the law and the Constitution. I strongly agree with every decision that Judge Thomas rendered.

If Dr. Maloney sees the law and the Constitution differing from his stance on the issues he should lobby his Congressman and Senators from the great state of Ohio to change the law. Perhaps his Holy Cross education skipped a study of the U.S. Constitution or he his confused as to the roles of Judges and the Congress.

I was taught to believe when I was at Holy Cross that abortion was wrong, I hope that that teaching has not left Holy Cross is their striving for social justice.

John T. Russo '69
Nutley, N.J.


Qualms About Thomas

I must concur with Michael Maloney's and Joseph Carey's qualms about Justice Clarence Thomas (Holy Cross Magazine Summer 2012). If anyone were to review objectively Clarence Thomas' tenure as a Supreme Court Justice since 1991, such research would reveal thinking, conduct and official decisions that are out of synch with Jesuit values and, for that matter, contrary to Christian principles.

Yet, even beyond Justice Thomas, any curious observer of the bloc of five conservative justices-all Catholics, mind you-must wonder: "Whatever happened to Catholicism itself?"

Jesus was crucified two thousand years ago, only to be jettisoned more recently by the Roman Catholic Church. If not by the entire Church, then certainly by five Catholic Supreme Court Justices, some Jesuit-educated! 

Nothing to be particularly proud of, is it?

Nicholas S. Molinari '59
Brick, N.J.


A View of Catholic Social Teaching

Dr. Maloney's letter in regards to Justice Thomas exhibited a lack of understanding of Catholic Social Teaching (CST). No doubt, having been educated by the Jesuits on the Hill at the height of what was to be called their liberation theology movement, and in the days of Cardinal Bernadin and his "consistent ethic of life ('seamless garment') paradigm," it is no wonder that his views are distorted.

Every example of Justice Thomas's alleged failings would fall into the category of "prudential judgment." That is, Catholics are called to work for justice, but in most areas Catholics can reasonably disagree on the proper method or policy for getting there. Forgetting the fact that Justice Thomas, as a member of the judiciary, is required to interpret the law as written, not legislate his own ideals, his opinions on "Obamacare," Citizens United, and the Wal-Mart and ATT cases that Dr. Maloney cites, do not violate CST. In fact, a vote in support of "Obamacare" would have been a "grave violation" and put Justice Thomas in a position of "cooperating with evil," by virtue of the law's support for abortion and contraception, and trampling of conscience protections. A violation of those tenets are "intrinsic evils," and thus, non-negotiable, according to CST.

Regretfully, many Catholics were led astray in the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s, as Catholic educators and theologians looked to move the Church in a secular direction. In their 1998 pastoral letter, "The Gospel of Life," the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) replaced Cardinal Bernadin's "seamless garment" approach with the metaphor, "the foundations of the house of freedom." That foundation asserts the primacy of life issues and the importance of respect for the family and the protection of conscience.

Justice Thomas remains a dependable voice and vote for those foundational issues, and thus is in good standing on Catholic Social Teaching. The fact that the other votes cited may have offended the good doctor's (as well as Joseph Carey's and the Democratic Party's) improper understanding of CST is understandable. I would suggest that he look at the USCCB's document on Faithful Citizenship to get a more current understanding of the teaching of the Magisterium on these issues.

As for Mr. Carey, you say "political persuasion aside," yet your entire letter is a cut and paste from the Democratic Party "Clarence Thomas Talking Points" memo. Perhaps if you read Justice Thomas's book, My Grandfather's Son, you will come to appreciate this wonderful and brilliant man and how well he reflects on all Crusaders.

Stephen G. Kenny '81
Glen Rock, N.J.


Beyond Belief

It is beyond belief that  Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas '71 would be impugned  as an exemplary graduate because of his politics. I don' t think that the Bible has any issues with the Constitution in regards to free speech and thought. I am proud of Holy Cross without being constrained by something as petty as one's political leanings. In fact, I'll bet that there are a few closet Conservatives among us who have accomplished some amazing things. Who would have thought that could ever happen in this day and age!

Steve Farley, D.D.S., '73
Windsor, Conn. 


Regarding Our Constitution

I am writing in response to your invitation to write in general and to the Summer 2012 letters on Justice Thomas in particular. First, a question: Where in the world would anyone with a superb Holy Cross education get the idea that the U.S. Constitution is all about "social justice"? It is not. It is about the law as imbedded in the Constitution and its amendments. And, by the way, our Constitution is not a "moveable feast." In spite of attempts to subvert it or to go around it, to charge that it is out of date, or to change it through judicial fiat, it remains the single greatest document of governance ever produced by any people anywhere. It is great because its raison d'être comes not from fallible man but from our Almighty Creator, as stated within that remarkable document. Remarkably, it contains its own process to effect change to the document. By the way, that process includes neither overzealous activist jurists nor smelly mobs in their attempt to intimidate legal and lawful government. As an aside I would note that the document specifically enumerates just what the U.S. government is empowered to do to the exclusion of all other powers that are left to the states. What an inconvenience to the Left.

As for Justice Thomas, it would seem that his major sin is that, after being "saved" by the radical civil rights crowd, he now dares to have a mind of his own! Imagine that, he did not religiously adhere to their versions of political thought and governance ergo let him be anathema. We should be proud of him for being his own man and for his emphasis on the constitution as it is, not as some wish it were.

I was lucky to be at the alumni banquet when Justice Thomas returned to the campus for the first time since he had graduated. He was the main speaker and a magnificent speech it was. His words overshadow anything his, dare I say petty, detractors could possibly throw at him. Holy Cross should thank God for Justice Thomas.

James B Vanairsdale '51
St. Augustine, Fla.



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Letters to the editor are edited for length, style and content. Letters should be no more than 250 words and must include the writer's full name, address, phone number, email and class year, if applicable. Due to space restrictions, not all letters received will appear in Holy Cross Magazine, and some may appear online. Letters to the editor do not reflect the opinion of the College or the editorial staff.