Sunday, May 17, 2009

Eyewitness Account of the Notre Dame Rally

Reader Deirdre Mundy was able to attend the protest at Notre Dame today; she has very kindly sent along her account of the day's events:

We got to campus early, but missed the turn for the designated parking area. This turned out to be a really good thing— I asked one of the ubiquitous policemen for help, and he directed us to a different parking lot, much closer to campus. As we pulled in, a group of nuns was getting out of their car. By the time we unloaded all the kids, the nuns were way ahead of us, but since we weren’t sure where we were going, we adopted a policy of “follow the pretty blue nuns.” (They were in full habit.) My daughters were thrilled and started screaming “Go faster! The nuns are really fast and we have to catch them!!”

We streaked across campus. At one point the signs that the ND Response crowd put up went one way, and the nuns went another. We were at a loss about what to do, so we asked one of the official campus greeters. Big mistake. She hadn’t even heard that the Mass was going on, it wasn’t on her official schedule of events, and she had no idea why we’d want to go to it. We quickly decided that our best bet was to follow the nuns, so we ran off after them again.

We eventually caught up with them in front of the basilica, and found out that they were Daughters of the Immaculata ( from Libertyville, IL. My daughters proclaimed their habits ‘beautiful’ and told me that they all looked just like Mary. They’re a new community and seem like they’re definitely worth checking out!

We’d skipped Benediction, as we wanted to save up the kids’ limited reserves of good behavior for Mass. We’re lucky we did. The quad was huge, and our first thought was “It’s not too crowded.” Then I noticed how tiny the choir seemed from where we staked our ground. If we’d been at St. Mary of the Angels (one of the biggest churches in Chicago) we’d have been sitting in the last pew. And the people kept on coming in behind us. Fortunately, they had a good sound system and a camera/video screen going, so we could still see.

Mass was pretty good as far as outdoor Masses hosted by college students go. It was very reverent, and the choir was so good I actually didn’t mind Hass and Haugen for a change. =) The celebrant, one of the Holy Cross fathers, gave a good homily on what Christ means by love which led into an appreciation of the seniors who organized the Mass and the fact that they were making a great sacrifice for the truth and shouldn’t be discouraged.

Communion was orderly except for the occasional old ladies criss-crossing the quad in a determined effort to receive from Father Corapi (who concelebrated.) There was absolutely NO media coverage that I could see, even though I’m sure there were more people at the Mass than at the protests where people were getting arrested.

After Mass, Airforce One did a flyby, which a lot of us found funny. (Unfortunately, since it was AFTER Mass a big chunk of the crowd had gone to get lunch, so the view from the window probably wasn’t as impressive as it had been 15 minutes earlier.) I talked to a bunch of people who’d come up from St. Louis – we also saw some who’d come all the way from Virginia!

The speakers at the rally weren’t terribly famous, but they were all very good. Father Wilson Miscamble, a Holy Cross father and a professor at Notre Dame, gave a great barn-burner to start things off, calling out the administration on their cowardice, and praising the students for having the courage to stand up for the truth, even when it was inconvenient. Also, he’s Australian, so he has a great accent, and he made Lord of the Rings references!

After Father Miscamble was done speaking, Bishop D’Arcy arrived. He said he hadn’t been planning on coming, because he hadn’t seen what he could possibly contribute, but that he realized the night before at Adoration that while D’Arcy the man wasn’t that important, the office of the Bishop was, and so it was his job to be there and let the protesting students know that the church stood with them. Very short remarks, but much appreciated.

Chris Godfrey, the founder of Life Athletes and a Superbowl champion, gave the next talk. Unfortunately, I can’t give a good summary—whenever talk turns to football, my attention wanders and I was changing a dirty diaper while he talked.... The crowd enjoyed his speech, though.

The next speaker was Elizabeth Borger. She’s on the board for the Women’s Care Centers here in Northern Indiana. ( ) These are crisis pregnancy centers, founded by Professor Janet Smith, that operate completely in keeping with church teaching—they don’t even dispense contraception! Also, the Women’s Care centers continue to provide support to the mothers until their child enters Kindergarten.

Mrs. Borger’s talk mostly talked about the Women’s Care Centers, the work they do, and why it was important to reach out to pregnant women. She contrasted the media image of pro-lifers (judgmental, mean, hate the mothers) with the reality (love mothers and babies BOTH, want what’s best for everyone) It was a good solid talk, and could have done a lot to dispel stereotypes if there’s been any media present. (There wasn’t, that I could see – though the students were recording all the speeches, so hopefully they’ll show up on YouTube later.)

A senior took the stage to announce that the Orestes Brownson Society at Notre Dame was giving an award to Mary Ann Glendon and read a few excerpts from her letter accepting the award.

Lacy Dodd, the woman who wrote the “Notre Dame My Mother” article for First Things ( ) spoke next. She was the first speaker to interest my 5 year old, mostly because she brought her daughter along. She gave a good, solid talk which was along the same lines as her article.

At this point, my 3 year old daughter and my 18 month old son were getting tired and fussy, but I convinced my husband that we should at least stay a little longer, until the end of the rally.

He was glad that I persuaded him to stay, because the next speaker, Father John Raphael SSJ, was awesome. He talked about abolition, civil rights, and abortion. He also had some great, snarky comments about the fact that Obama’s supporters called anyone who didn’t want him to get a degree from Notre Dame a racist, and well, what does that make Father Raphael? And then he ripped into Obama for being racist by promoting abortion for poor and minority women, and acting like a black mother on welfare can’t love her child as well as a white woman in the suburbs. HUGE reaction from the crowd, a really great speech. A reporter from the local Fox affiliate was there for some of it, but he seemed to be filming the crowd, not the speaker…..

The final speaker, Professor David Solomon, was joined on stage by about 50 professors in full academic regalia—they were all boycotting the commencement and supporting the ND Response kids instead. My husband pointed out that, sadly, it didn’t look like there were many younger faculty members with them—I don’t know if this is because the young faculty unanimously approve of honoring pro-choice speakers, or if they’re just afraid to speak out before they have tenure. Solomon’s talk was more about speaking the Truth even when it’s inconvenient, and fighting to make Notre Dame Catholic again.

At this point the kids were inches away from major meltdown (They’d been too excited to nap,) and the girls had nearly trampled and elderly nun (not one of the Immaculata sisters, a white nun of some sort) so we decided to skip the Rosary with Father Pavone and head home.

All in all, the Mass and Rally were excellent – they were peaceful, appropriate, and family friendly (the ND response people were even giving the kids ‘Choose Life’ balloons…. And they rushed to replace any that escaped!) There was almost no media coverage, though.

Which takes me back to my complaint about the lawn-trampling-dismembered-corpse-displaying-tresspassing-and-getting-arrested pro-lifers who DO get all the attention.

I realize they’re angry about abortion. We all are. But the ends (making people aware that abortion is bad) don’t justify the means (law-breaking, showing pictures of dead babies, etc.) And the ends do more harm then good. They don’t convince people to protect life; they turn them AWAY from it.

To end abortion in this country, we need to change hearts and minds. We can change minds—ultrasounds are ubiquitous now, the ‘hand of life’ boy is turning ten, anyone who’s had high school biology has to admit that, from conception, the thing in the uterus meets all the scientific tests for ‘human life.’

The problem is the hearts – no matter how rationally we argue, the pro-choice position basically comes down to “But I don’t WANT to have a baby.” And, in the end, probably the only Person who can change hearts is God-- that’s where Mass/Rosaries/Eucharistic Processions and Adoration come in. In the end, the controversy over abortion is NOT about politics –it’s about religion. It’s about recognizing that every human life has value, that every human life is loved intensely. And I think this is where the ND Response kids see the truth of the matter more clearly than all the folks who were trying to shock the media and get arrested.

So, even though their protests were completely ignored, because they don’t fit the prevailing narrative, they weren’t wasted--- after all, any time we run to Christ in the Eucharist and throw ourselves at the feet of Mary with our prayers, there’s no possibility of ‘waste.’

Deirdre, thank you so much for sharing your experience with all of us--and thank you, and your family, for turning out today to be among the pro-life witnesses reinforcing the Catholic Church's teachings on the sanctity of life!


Anonymous said...

Notre Dame is the last institution that should be taking the supposed 'moral ground'. They don't care about Catholics at all, all they care about is if you have the skills and the marginal academics to play on their substandard football team. As for Bishop D'arcy; he's a moron and his line of thinking is indicative of why Catholics like myself are turning away from the echurch. 'Abortion is horrible but its ok to go to Iraq and kill people' If this so called man of God supported Bush but not Obama because of his stance on abortion; this man should not be clergy. Killing is killing and as a US Marine and a Catholic; I am disgusted at Darcy's decision. Stick to being a priest instead of getting involved in political affairs.

LarryD said...

So, if I follow that line of thinking, not doing the supposed right thing negates the validity of doing the absolute right thing? You're making this political, and totally missing (or ignoring) the point of the protest.

Magister Christianus said...

Erin, thank you so much for posting your friend's wonderful obervations of the event. It is likely to be the only news report I will see of it.

Anonymous said...

To Deirdre,
Thank you for your account and for the sacrifice you made to attend with small children! Erin, thank you for posting Deirdre's report. All the stories in the mainstream media (ignorant, tacky protestors vs. "reasonable," calm churchmen and politicians) are such a set-up to make Obama look like the calm, reasonable hero. Vile.

To Anonymous above,

If you want are truly considering turning away from the Church, I urge you to fight that temptation with prayer. But if you do, don't use faulty logic as your excuse. The protection of innocent human life is a moral issue and one the bishops are (finally!) witnessing to. The war in Iraq is a debatable issue. Abortion, for a faithful Catholic, is not.

nearstar said...

"The war in Iraq is a debatable issue"??? Debatable by whom? By a person that believes killing innocent civilians is ok if it's called a "war"? Of COURSE Catholics are turning away from the Church and hypocrites like D'arcy.

CrimsonCatholic said...

Debatable by whom? By a person that believes killing innocent civilians is ok if it's called a "war"?War efforts aren't typically directed at innocents, and they certainly aren't in this case. Your accusation is degrading to all men and women currently serving our country in the conflict.

Abortion is directed at the murder of innocents in principle, and likewise, its acceptance is a denial of the basic moral tenet of the protection of innocent life in principle. Because preventing those murders that is a fundamental government responsibility, such a denial makes the government itself a conspirator in committing the murders, just the same as a bodyguard who deliberately and knowingly lets an assassin in to kill the man under his protection. Even if roughly equal numbers of innocents were being slain, it would be much worse for a politician to take the latter position even if the number of innocents, and with respect to abortion and Iraq, abortion is orders of magnitude greater in the number of casualties.

People need to get their heads straight on this issue. Failing to ban abortion makes the government itself a co-mass-murderer responsible for all of the abortion deaths that take place under that government's auspices. Making some bad decisions about war is not governmentally institutionalized mass murder; arguing in favor of legalized abortion is. I just don't understand how you can look at a massive program of governmentally-sanctioned slaughter as being on the same level as indirectly killed bystanders even in a putatively unjust war.

What you're suggesting like comparing a serial killer to a shoplifter and saying that they are equally unqualified to office. It's only true if you flip the off switch on your common sense. If you're telling me that I can't make a rational decision between two bad alternatives, even when one is obviously far worse, I'd suggest you spend some time in contemplation and prayer to cultivate wisdom, because even a primitive pagan could grasp that.

Anonymous said...

nearstar: Bishop D' Arcy's words are below:
"But the direct attack on life in the womb is intrinsically evil, can never be accepted, can never be permitted, or anything of that nature. And so, I agree with Pope John Paul II and present church thrust that we should protect life by lifetime imprisonment and things like that. But there’s a difference between those two issues, as there is a difference between the Iraq war, I did not agree with the Iraq war, but a person of good will, a good Catholic, could disagree on that, and reach a different conclusion. This is something that always binds, a direct attack on an unborn child."

Anonymous said...

The first anon poster is neither catholic nor a marine. Book it.

John I. said...

I must have been looking from exactly the same spot as Deirdre--her account and observations are 100% accurate.

At day's end I was dejected that ND had enabled Obama to do as Mary Ann Glendon feared, blur the bishops' clarity on the evil of abortion...and in Laci Dodd's words reduce it to "just another dining room topic." Shame on Notre Dame! Thank God I heard Fr. Raphael's assurance that, "the gates of hell shall not prevail." By the way, had he given his speech right after Obama, at the same podium, I am positive that he would have gotten and deserved the more thundering applause, even from the fawning followers of the Pied Piper.

Mirabilis said...

Not a fan of Limbaugh by any means, but he nails the Notre Dame speech for a truly Orwellian use of language. This is really a must-read:

Anonymous said...

Wow - "All the stories in the mainstream media (ignorant, tacky protestors vs. "reasonable," calm churchmen and politicians) are such a set-up to make Obama look like the calm, reasonable hero. Vile."

I think that's extremely hostile and unfair. The lovely students of ND Response and the
participants in their protest were calm and reasonable, but, unfortunately, invisible to those of us who were not there. It was as if they did not exist. And don't you think that is exactly as Fr. Jenkins and the ND board willed it? They were noble and heroic, and quiet and obedient - and invisible.

I get the impression that if you had seen Jesus overturn the money changing tables at the temple, you would have called him vile and ignorant and tacky, too. With only a television as a witness, what we saw was Father Jenkins promoting President Obama and moral relativism under the guise of intellectual Catholicism. And then we got to see President Obama talk abou "all God's children" and bask in the adoration of the ND graduates. I was happy that a few brave souls dared to make a loud noise and disrupt his artful lies. I greatly admired the students and people who had protested at the grotto, too. But I was also sad that they were missing from the venue where the lies were being perpetrated. And having to watch Fr. Jenkins and Obama talk, I wished some more of them had decided to do as Jesus did - and overturn the tables.

Some of your brothers and sisters, and I am one of them, believe that if the public were to actually come face to face with the reality of what abortion really is, they would naturally reject it. It is also a natural moral law, not just a Catholic one. I think it is a mistake to trash us. I recommend the organization CBR - the Center for Bioethical Research at Please give us a listen...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above: I meant that the media's lack of coverage of the graceful ND Response and the mainstream news selection of the more outlandish protests were a vile trick. I'm sorry you misunderstood me.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I misunderstood you! Please accept my apologies. Watching from home, it seemed to me that the Notre Dame authorities probably discouraged or did not allow the news media free access to the other events on campus. There was next to nothing in terms of coverage! What little fragments were seen seemed to be taken from camera phones. In fact, on Saturday the administration made a statement reported on the news that there were NO protests happening on campus on Saturday. But I know there were events hosted by ND Response. So this was ND's deceptive spin.

And I was confused.... the protestors outside who came onto school property were ordered to be arrested and incarcerated (including priests and nuns, and elderly ones as well). So how were the other participants allowed on campus? Did they have a special pass or invitation? Or were they just not allowed to carry any pro-life signs?

Needless to say, it was terribly hard to watch this propaganda event unfold perfectly on television. It was doubly hard knowing that the world and impressionable young people watching television were being spoonfed these lies that may harm them. Please forgive my passionate response!

Deirdre Mundy said...

We got onto campus by parking on the North lot and walking to the quead. There was no security, that I saw. The students had asked for no signs at all during Mass (to keep it reverent) and only 'respectful;' signs during the rally.

So there were some guys with a crucifix, an OLG banner, a slew of "Choose Life" T-shirts, some "Stop Abortion" signs, some KofC stuff, etc. But no graphic, bloody things. And all the kids got "Choose Life!" Ballons.

I think the reason the media didn't cover the rally was because it didn't fit their preferred narrative.

A peaceful, reverant crowd celebrating Mass, listening to speeches (Clapping and cheering loudly at some bits) and praying the Rosary doesn't fit the stereotype of "crzy-hateful-pro-lifers"

A black priest from New Orleans giving a speech about how Obama's abortion policy's are racist and disproportionately effect poor and minority babies doesn't jive well with "Obama, civil rights hero and modern day Solomon."

Holy Cross fathers and faculty members calling out Jenkins on his Perfidy doesn't fit with the "Educated Catholics agree with Obama" meme.

It's all about telling a story, not reporting the facts.

That said, I DO think the organizers made a mistake by asking most of the protestors to stay on the quad for the rosary, instead of having them all go to the grotto. Because the photo of a crowd of Catholics, on their kneees, spilling down the hill, across the road and to the shores of the lake would have been too cool for the media to ignore.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Btw-- just wanted to add--- one thing I REALLY hate about the graphic, dismembered baby protestors is that they're being disrespectful to the dead.

What would you think of an anti-war protestor who showed pictures of marines killed by landmines?

How about a pro-death-penalty poster who showed police photos of a graphic murder scene?

Those are BABIES, folks. Dead babies. Not Props. And they just make people turn away in disgust.

Why not try photos of very young preemies, with tag lines like "Old enough to survive, young enough to have been aborted."

Or 4-D ultrasound pictures?

Try a tact more like the "Life, Imagine the possibilities" Ads. Or the highly successful "cute baby" ones.

My husband thinks the problem is that many of the older abortion protestors are trying to mimic the style of 1960's antiwar types.

But the message doesn't justify the means.

Anonymous said...

Yes, they are dead children, who have been murdered and covered up and discarded in garbage bags so that no human eye will ever witness their suffering. You think it is wrong to show them to the world. I think it is wrong to cooperate with hiding them. You may not believe anyone would be reached by viewing these photos. But I have been reached by them. Others have realized the truth through their witness. They have not died in vain.

"In May 1945, not long after the Nazi death camps were liberated, Life magazine published a truly gruesome collection of photographs illustrating the horror of another euphemism: the “Final Solution.” Six full pages of pictures of emaciated survivors and decaying or burned corpses began with these words:

“Dead men have indeed died in vain if live men refuse to look at them.”"

Here is the article from which the above quote was taken:

Here is an excellent explanation of the reasoning behind the tactics of those who use graphic displays:

It is disheartening to read your condemnations.

Dirtdartwife said...

Those "gruesome" pictures of aborted babies are what is getting people's attention. When logic, reason and attempts at talking fail, the next step is to show them what abortion is.

I've seen the concentration camps, I've seen millions of pictures, read stories, etc of the horrors of WWII. And through abortion, I see it happening all over again. This country has elected another Hitler, and abortion is his Final Solution. So what will get the attention of the Obama-bots, to include the ignorant Valedictorian of ND heading to Medschool no less, to FULLY understand what abortion is? Appealing to their intelligence has failed, so let's appeal to their ignorance and make them smart.

Is it harsh? Yep... but abortion is worse and I'm tired of people crying over truthful images. I know of 7 people that I've helped to convert from being pro-abortion to pro-life and it was pictures from Priests for Life that did it. I talked to these people for years.... but one set of pictures did it.

Red Cardigan said...

I think we can reasonably disagree on the subject of abortion pictures, or suggest limits to their uses, etc. I'm considering a post later this afternoon on the topic to let the conversation continue.

I think the larger point Deirdre made is that it's easy for the media to zero in on a relatively small number of "attention-getting" protesters, and ignore the crowd of thousands of prayerful, respectful ones. This, sadly, is undeniable--think back to the sparse coverage the March for Life in DC gets every year, and almost always the media will find a few really, um, interesting people to focus in on, in order to create the impression that pro-life Americans are all tinfoil hat wearing people who are a few bricks shy of a load, so to speak.

The media *wants* to create that impression. We need to start outsmarting them.

Deirdre Mundy said...

BTW--ND response has put up the transcripts from the Rally--- they said they'd have the video up shortly.
( )

I HIGHLY recommend these, especially Father Raphael, Father Miscamble, and David Solomon--

Deirdre Mundy said...

Oh, and Erin, please DO post a thread on graphic pictures, if you get a chance--I had another point to make (about a difference I've noticed in male vs. female reactions to the pictures) but don't want to hijack your thread! =)