Letters

by SCM |

Change the world

The stories of the Peace Corps Volunteers [“Change the world,” Fall 2011] underscored the common theme voiced by many returned volunteers that it was a transformational experience. My group in Brazil were all community development volunteers, meaning we had no specific job to fill other than the passion to help in whatever way we could—usually by trying to organize the poor around a literacy, agriculture co-op, or health campaign. Trying to be an agent for social change may seem like a naïve conceit—and perhaps it was. Even so, similar to the comment of Renee Billingslea, my goal was to make a difference in the lives of five people. I think I succeeded. But no doubt at least 50 people made a difference in mine.

Community organization was suspect under the military dictatorship. But, many of us took inspiration from Dom Helder Camera, the Catholic bishop in the state of Recife, who famously stated: “If I give to the poor, they call me a saint; if I ask why there are poor, they call me a communist.” For me, his point summarized the lesson learned from the Peace Corps experience: There can never really be peace and progress without social justice.

Ronald W. Noya ’68
Peace Corps Volunteer in Brazil, 1968–70
San Diego

 

Regarding the print edition: Wow, beautiful job on “Change the World,” the most engaging treatment of the topic I’ve seen in decades! Thanks.

And the Web map: So much to click, where does one begin to comment? Renee Billingslea, I suppose: I recall flying over Kiribati in July 2008 on my way back from Sydney, at night. Now I know something about what happens below. Thx., Ms. Billingslea!

Kevin Byrne ’72
Roseville, Minn.

 

I really enjoyed [Peter Ross’ extended essay online] about his experience in the Peace Corps in India. My husband was in the third group of Peace Corps volunteers to go to India, and he wrote letters home to his parents every week or so, and I am in the process of putting his letters together for preservation. He died in 2001. I’m always very impressed with the effect the Peace Corps experience has had on volunteers.

Sara Willson
Submitted via santaclaramagazine.com 


Glad to have Fr. Rewak home
 

Thank you for [“Welcome home, Fr. Rewak,” Fall 2011], an article that conveys a bit of this wonderful man and priest. Fr. William Rewak embodies much of what SCU tries to instill in its community: incisive reason, humble service to humanity, effective leadership, creative problem solving, and constant kindness and sensitivity. To that he adds scholarly and literary intellect.

My wife, Diana ’74, and I started at Santa Clara at the same time Fr. Rewak did, in 1970. We were both fortunate enough to find our way into his American Lit classes. Like our classmates, we were amazed with his ability to stir and enthrall the class by reading poetry. What a voice! As a great teacher does, he transferred to us a love of learning that generalizes to other subject matter and still impels us today. In and out of class, we learned much through him about Jesuit values. Indeed, the foundation for our ongoing love for Santa Clara emanated to a substantial extent from our relationship with Fr. Bill. We are all very fortunate to have Fr. Rewak back where he belongs. He will be a strong and positive presence, and a superb representative of our University. True to form, his contributions are likely to be nonostentatious, but he will undoubtedly help us move further forward as an institution of increasing impact and visibility. It is another indication of Fr. Engh’s outstanding leadership that he has invited Fr. Rewak home.

Rudolf L. Brutoco ’74
San Juan Capistrano, Calif.


Amazing women

Thank you for publishing Mick LaSalle’s article on the documentary A Question of Habit [produced by SCU’s Michael Whalen]. It was entertaining and informative. I work for the Daughters of Charity, Province of the West—the most amazing women I’ve ever been privileged to know. Their rich legacy of caring for those living in poverty, the underserved and the disenfranchised, is in capable hands. Another excellent source of information about women religious is the Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America exhibit, currently completing a nationwide tour. It was at the Smithsonian, among other prestigious venues, and it will complete its tour beginning Jan. 24, when it opens at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento.

Patricia Smith
Los Altos Hills

 

[“Band of Sisters: Celebrating 50 years of women at Santa Clara”] is amazing!! We have admittedly taken for granted the courage and conviction with which you and so many other women paved the way for our generation not so very long ago. Thank you for your shining example!

Caroline '09
Submitted via santaclaramagazine.com


Thanks for the memories

The Spring 2011 Santa Clara Magazine included a picture of an enthusiastic crowd at a Bronco football game at Buck Shaw Stadium in 1980. Besides the fun and excitement captured by the photo, it framed the broad circle of friends that defined my SCU experience. I showed my kids the photo of the raucous crowd, and they had a good chuckle seeing Dad and Mom among their college peers. I hope that they will look back some day and cherish their college days in a similar way. The SCU class of ’81 was a wonderful time!

Chris Fellenz ’81
San Jose


Talk about tough

Until I read “How can you defend those people?” [Fall SCM], I used to think that some of my classmates defended criminals and murderers—which I had trouble understanding—while some of us went into the Army and honorably defended our country for over 20 years. Thanks for your service, Bob Strunck ’76, in a tough environment. It was great to see you, Garth, and Paul, the guys “incompatible” with SCU dorm life, at our recent reunion. When I heard that you guys were buying rounds of drinks for the Marines Thursday night at Fleet Week in SF, I already gave you a pass.
Great article.

Mike O’Hara ’72
San Diego


The article prompted one of Bob Strunck’s friends to write, under the nom de plume Gunther Drano: “You didn't have to room with him!!!” The article has also had more folks forward it via Facebook than any piece in SCM to date.—Ed.


Never enough

The Fall 2011 edition was terrific. The article by Khaled Hosseini ’88 [“The promise of this day”] was stunning. After reading his commencement address on “never enough” I would say there is never enough of Mr. Hosseini’s writings. Well done.

Ted Broedlow ’64
Corona Del Mar, Calif.


The Class of ’45: The boys who went away

Here’s a verbal snapshot from the World War II years on campus.—Ed.

We were freshmen in 1941, eager to begin our college life. Three-story Kenna Hall was our dormitory. Life on campus was, in a word, “restricted.” There was mandatory study, in your room, each evening from 7 to 9 p.m. (in present-day jargon, “a lockdown”); lights out, 10 p.m. Floor monitors were assigned to each floor: James L. Vizzard, S.J., on the third floor, Joseph T. Keane, S.J., on the second. The glass doors to their offices, at the end of the hall, were positioned perfectly to view the many doors to our rooms. This would discourage any student from leaving his room during study period. Break the rules and you would be summoned to the office of John P. O’Connell, S.J., prefect of discipline. He was a no-nonsense Jesuit. He would dole out the appropriate punishment to the wrongdoer. His wrath could pierce the side of an armored tank!

The classroom became our focus; football, our diversion. The football program was under the direction of Buck Shaw, a former Notre Dame star and a highly respected football scholar who would become a legend. The freshman football team was predestined to become one of the most successful in school history. The line was composed of stars like Frank Avilla, Ed Smith, Tom Dowling, and Frank Laney. Stand-out ends were Cy Smith and All-American Tommy Fears. Back fielders were Paul Vinnola and Chris Christianson. They would be the future success for Santa Clara football. In the classroom, studying was paramount. We knew we were there to work. The wild-eyed Austin J. Fagothey, S.J., brought us into the world of philosophy; James M. Corbett, S.J., instructed the fundamentals of logic; in science, Eugene M. Bacigalupi, S.J., taught us the mystery of physics. The three doctors of chemistry—Harold L. Link, Joseph F. Deck, and Robert W. Ward—were serious and competent; there was no time for frivolity. I must remember William C. Gianera, S.J., a gentle man of the cloth, kind and compassionate, the prefect of studies, and the one person to guide us on our academic careers. He was all about understanding, a man of great sensitivity, and a guiding light for many of us at Santa Clara.

The attack on Pearl Harbor would change the life of each student of Santa Clara University. The years that followed became the war years, with students leaving to enter the service. It was a slow process, as students would wait for their orders. By the end of 1943, all eligible candidates had entered the service. A handful of the Class of 1945 would remain. The Tom Dowlings and the Chris Christiansons were lost in some far-away place, fighting for our country. It was ironic that our class started in 1941, the year World War II began and ended in 1945, the same year the war ended.
As the war ended, many of our class would return to Santa Clara—a new class, a new graduating year. The Class of 1945 was lost in the pages of time. It was a new beginning.

Thomas E. Gebhardt ’45
Boise, Idaho


With gratitude and respect

As a recent graduate and recipient of financial aid, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Robin Ferrari ’76 and to every individual who has generously contributed to Santa Clara University. Robin’s letter in the Fall 2011 edition of Santa Clara Magazine elucidates the importance of the continuing support of SCU alumni, even in these challenging times; your generosity has made possible my academic success at this prestigious institution, and in turn I hope I am blessed with the opportunity to support future students.

However, as alumni and as donors, we must also take the time to express our gratitude to the faculty, who, more than anyone or anything else, make Santa Clara a truly great university. These men and women have dedicated their lives to the preservation and dissemination of knowledge, and we must do everything in our power to help promote and maintain SCU's top-notch teaching staff. As a music student, I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with several talented and devoted educators, from the professors of theory and history to the indefatigable, selfless staff accompanist. I respect and admire the SCU faculty, both in the music department and in other fields, immensely, and I encourage every alumnus to stand beside and support their former teachers. Please take the time to thank faculty members personally, to donate to specific departments and programs, and to recognize the critical importance of the faculty’s contribution to the students and to the SCU community.

Lucas Ramirez ’11
Mountain View


Remembrance of things Graham

Jeff Gire’s feature on Graham Hall (with lots of memories of its denizens over the years) drew more readers online than any other feature in the last issue. And it brought in numerous comments. Here are a few:

When I started at SCU, I was a little disappointed that I ended up on the “upperclassman” side of campus, thinking I would miss the fun associated with Swig. Soon I realized that I had the best arrangements—I mean, a pool right outside my dorm? What a community we built. Thanks for the memories.

Debbie Medeiros Carey ’80
South San Francisco
 

Students could rent Pipestage out for events. Two that stick out in my mind were the “Come as your favorite biblical character” party (as a business major, I came as a moneychanger ousted from the temple) and a casino night (using real chips and money) that got raided by the police.

Greg Finn ’79, MBA ’88
Sacramento

Graham 400 was my introduction to Santa Clara life. There was the time I tried to wash a friend’s borrowed tuxedo in the washing machine, only to be stopped by my great friend (and savior) Cooper. Plus, my first and only all-nighter to write a paper for English class—I think I still barely passed the class. And I lived next to a German raver named Grasshopper, no joke. Tears, beers, no fears—that was my freshman year in Graham!

Jim Freeburg '03
Seattle

We are committed to precision. In 1962, some, if not all, of the ladies of the class of ’66 were housed in Nobili Hall in their freshman year. Nobili became a men’s dorm in 1964, and my roommate Jerry Walsh and I moved into a Nobili room our junior year. We were shocked! Nobili was sweet! Carpeted rooms and hallways! Clothes washers and dryers! A bathtub on each floor!!! The frosh guys had cold, 40-year-old linoleum tile floors at O’Connor and Kenna, no bathtubs!—and they had to brave Laundromats off-campus—at least those of us who bothered to wash our clothes. I had no talent for this. A week into my freshman year, I washed my new University of Santa Clara sweatshirt along with my whites. I spent the next two years trying to explain why all my T-shirts and socks were pink.

Dan McCoy ’66
La Cañada, Calif.

Michael Kennedy said on Jan 31, 2012

I loved the articles in the Why We Fight issue, as they struck a strong chord with me.

I graduated from SCU in '72 in Biology, and I was in ROTC in 1969-1970, and relived those days through the articles as I read each one. My dad was a Colonel in the Air Force, and I remember not telling people that, as well as making myself scarce on campus, as it was unpopular to wear a uniform on campus while going to and from ROTC classes.

I'm so glad things have changed, and that it is now cool to wear a uniform, and stand tall for what it represents. Especially now, as my son just joined the Army and is now at boot camp and Medic training around the corner. Thank goodness for the authors of these articles.

I feel privileged to have been among classmates like Joe Peterson, who I vaguely remember in ROTC map reading and other classes. It is so true that our nations warriors and scholars should be one and the same, as that's what we need to be a nation among nations that prevents and manages world conflicts when they arise, rather than just a force that reacts to conflict.

Long live ROTC at SCU! My hat is off to you and my heart is open.

Michael J. Kennedy '72

Summer 2014

Table of contents

Features

A day with the Dalai Lama

High-spirited and hushed moments from Feb. 24: a day to talk about business, ethics, compassion.

The Catholic writer today

Poet and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Dana Gioia argues that Catholic writers must renovate and reoccupy their own tradition.

Our stories and the theatre of awe

Pulitzer Prize–winning author Marilynne Robinson speaks about grace, discernment, and being a modern believer.

Mission Matters

What would the next generation say?

Hossam Baghat, one of Egypt’s leading human rights activists, was awarded the 2014 Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize for his work defending human rights.

Breaking records on the maplewood

Scoring 40 points in one game. And besting Steve Nash’s freshman year.

How's the water?

A lab on a chip helps provide the answer—which is a matter of life and death when the question is whether drinking water contains arsenic.