Where Are They Now?

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the end of Xavier football.

It was a turning point in the history of the University. Agree with it or not, one thing can’t be argued: Xavier produced some quality players—and people. We tracked down some of them to see what they’ve been doing in the years since they left campus.

 

[divider]Tim Dydo ’74 [/divider]

A quarterback takes risks. A placekicker doesn’t. And that is what Tim Dydo spends his days doingTimDydo as a financial consultant with Country Financial in the northern Chicago suburb of Libertyville, Ill.—figuring out who’s a quarterback and who’s a kicker; that is, who likes to take risks with their investments and who likes to play it safe.

Dydo, an honorable mention All-American quarterback during his time at Xavier, also keeps a steady hand in football, serving as a wide receiver and defensive backs coach for the last 15 years, first at Libertyville High School and now at nearby Vernon Hills. He also likes to keep track of his former players who went on to college and the NFL, including Kevin Walter of the Houston Texans; Evan Spencer, a wide receiver at Ohio State; and DaVaris Daniels, a wide receiver at Notre Dame.

Dydo almost didn’t make it to Xavier. He was recruited out of high school by several Ivy League schools, including Brown. One of the assistant coaches there was Dick Selcer, who continued to recruit Dydo when he got the head coaching job at Xavier for the 1970 season. Dydo ended up throwing for 3,690 yards, second-most in school history to Hall of Famer Carroll Williams. He helped the Musketeers to wins in the final three games of the program’s history, with wins over Northern Illinois, Villanova and Toledo to end the year 5-5-1. But Dydo, who was inducted into the Xavier Hall of Fame in 1992, sounds wistful nearly 40 years later. “It was not enough to keep the program,” he says.

[divider]John Shinners ’69 [/divider]

Athletes and the media have always had a tenuous relationship. Except with the Shinners family. They seemed to love them both. After a standout career at Xavier, John Shinners became a first-106 John Shinnersround draft pick of the New Orleans Saints and spent eight years butting heads with players in the NFL. After retiring in 1977, Shinners followed in the footsteps of his father, a former minor league baseball player who began the Hartford Times-Press in 1933. In 1954, he became the co-owner of the Menomonee Falls News in Wisconsin, and in 1969 he bought several weekly newspapers in the Milwaukee area. “That is the environment I grew up in,” says Shinners, a liberal arts graduate. Shinners eventually became president of Shinners Publications before selling the company in 1997. He now lives in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., works as a business consultant and does work with a local radio station. Shinners was the 17th overall pick in the NFL draft—a move that even surprised him. “Being drafted in the first round was exciting,” he says. “I was not highly recruited out of high school, let me put it that way. I never thought I would play professional football.” He was playing golf with NFL quarterback Billy Kilmer when he learned he got traded to the Baltimore Colts prior to the 1972 season. There, he got to snap the ball to Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas. He then played for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1973-1977 and was roommates for several years with quarterback Ken Anderson. In all, Shinners played in 97 games in the NFL, 66 with the Bengals.

[divider]Bill Howe ’74 [/divider]

The last game in Xavier football history saw Bill Howe reach a personal milestone. “I got an Howeinterception that set a school record for career interceptions,” Howe, a defensive back, says of that home win over Toledo the day after Thanksgiving in 1973.

That team was 3-0-1 in its last four games, all at home, to finish the year 5-5-1 overall. It was the only non-losing team that Howe played on at Xavier. “We put up a lot of offensive numbers and we needed them because of our defense,” Howe says with a laugh.

But Howe says it was team play and not individual milestones that stays with him nearly 40 years later. “It was a good lesson in teamwork. Football helps you deal with people and get along with people, since you spend so much time together,” he says. “For the most part your best friends are in that college environment.”

Howe received his bachelor’s degree from Xavier, a Master of Law in taxation from New York University and a JD from the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He has been practicing business and tax law since 1978 and for nearly 20 years has been with Cincinnati’s DeVita and Howe, where he is a partner.

Howe enjoys tennis, classic rock and spending time with his family at a favorite vacation spot in Destin, Fla. He and his?wife, Janie, have five children and one of them, Patrick, was a long snapper for Ohio State and ended his college career in the 2010 Rose Bowl.

[divider]Mark Pfeiffer ‘73 [/divider]

Mark Pfeiffer knows the drill, so to speak. He tells people what he does for a living and then sits back and waits for the groans and bad jokes. “What a painful job.” “That job’s like pulling teeth.” markP“Your job must be filling.” Truth be told, the former Xavier wide receiver is part of a family business that many people want to have no business with. He has a doctorate in dentistry and has an office in Fort Thomas, Ky., that he now shares with one of his four sons. Their motto: “We cater to cowards.”

Pfeiffer never ventured far from his roots. He played football at neighboring Covington Catholic High School and is in the school’s Hall of Fame. “I am still married to my high school sweetheart. I wanted to stay local,” says Pfeiffer.

Pfeiffer clearly remembers the first game of his junior season. The game was against Marshall, which lost 37 players in a Southern Airways plane crash in 1970 after returning from a game at East Carolina University. In its first home game after the crash, Marshall beat Xavier, 15-13, for the first win for the new program. A few years ago, Hollywood turned the game into a movie.

But that’s not what Pfeiffer remembers the most about football at Xavier. It was the people. His teammates. Like Ben Ballard who was the best man at his wedding. That’s what made Xavier football special. And still does.

[divider]Mike Dennis ’73 [/divider]

A little romance helped Mike Dennis end up at Xavier. A football standout at St. Mary’s High School in Sandusky, Ohio, Dennis was recruited by Navy, Penn, Case Western and Toledo, among others. But none of the others stood a chance.mike dennis

“I met a girl down there on my visit to Xavier,” he says. “She lived near Toledo.”

So is that girl now his wife? Does the story have a fairytale ending? “No,” he says with a laugh. She was just a girl. But she was enough to land the center at Xavier.

Dennis was also attracted to the Xavier program by Dick Selcer, the head coach in 1970-1971 who later went on to be a longtime assistant coach in the NFL. “He was an excellent salesperson and very charismatic,” says Dennis.

Dennis graduated from Xavier with a bachelor’s degree in physics and then got a master’s degree in radiological physics from the University of Cincinnati in 1974. He followed that with a doctorate in medical physics/biophysics from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Science in San Antonio in 1979, and he is now an associate professor of radiology at the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo.

He has a son who is an engineer in Arizona, an older daughter who has a doctorate in bioengineering and a younger daughter who has a nursing background and is a captain in the Air Force.

[divider]Herman “Buck” Motz ’54 [/divider]

Herman Motz collapsed in his home on Sept. 8, 2011. It was his 82nd birthday. “I was passed out,” Motzhe says. “I had a bleeding ulcer and was in the hospital for a week.” After 14 pints of blood, Motz was released and cleared to attend a ceremony honoring his 25 years of coaching high school football in Denver. Thomas Jefferson High School, where he prowled the sidelines as head coach from 1976-1989 and accumulated an astonishing 135-30-1 record and two state championships, was naming its football field after him.

“It is kind of strange,” he says. “You expect someone has to be dead for such recognition. But it was really great. A lot of the players came back that day. It was just wonderful.”

Motz, who taught Latin, English and even some sciences at Thomas Jefferson from 1967-1992, was in ROTC when he graduated from Xavier with a degree in business administration. As he finished up his military commitment in Fort Collins, Colo., “I met the most wonderful girl. She was from Pueblo [Colo.]” Motz married her and never left the state. That was 56 years ago.

Interestingly, Motz came to Xavier despite two challenges: He didn’t play high school football because his school in Newtown, Ohio, didn’t have a team. And his mother wanted him to attend medical school. “I told my mom I was going to a school where I can get a different education. She didn’t like it very much.”

With football and teaching now behind him, Motz has become a master gardener and volunteers at the Denver Botanical Gardens. “I work inside with our wildflower collection,” he says. “We have 48,000 species.”

 

[divider]Steve Bailey ’68 [/divider]

His playing days are long gone. But Steve Bailey of Cincinnati is still involved in football on and off the field as president of the local chapter of the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame.

“What we do is we honor from 13 to 14 student-athletes each year in southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky for their football, scholastic achievements and extracurricular activities,” he says.DSC_0192

Bailey has been impressed with the credentials he has seen over the years from these young men, be it their status as first-team all-state players on the field or their leadership as student council presidents off the gridiron. Each year the organization at the national level has a dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

Bailey, a partner with The Drew Law Firm, also finds time to get on the field as an assistant coach for the varsity football team at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, where his son, Steve, is a center.

Bailey, who’s been called Beetle since eighth grade, played at Newark Catholic in Ohio. “I came to Xavier as a running back,” he says. “Those were the days that you went both ways. I got redshirted my second year and then became a cornerback. I started three years.”

And, like many of his teammates, once he came to Cincinnati he never left. “I came here and loved the city. Playing football at Xavier opened doors for me. The first law firm I went to, the managing partners were guys who followed the football program. When I applied, I got a return letter in two days that said come on in.”

[divider]Carroll Williams ‘69 [/divider]

As top executive for the Golden Eagle Mediation Group and Victory Coach Inc. for the past 15 years, Carroll Williams’ South Florida consulting service has focused on offering team-building Williamsexercises and self-esteem classes for individuals, athletes and corporations. “I counsel people about gaining confidence.”

As starting quarterback at Xavier, Williams didn’t lack in confidence. He set 12 school football records and, in his junior year, led the University team to an 8-2 season, its best in 15 years. Williams was selected to the All-Catholic All-America Team that year and was also chosen as the 1965 Catholic College Player of the Year.

Williams played professional football for five years in the Canadian Football League, with the Montreal Alouettes and British Columbia Lions. He then returned to his hometown of Miami to begin a three-decade career as an educator, high school principal and coach with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system.

In his role as life coach, Williams works with people on organizing, prioritizing, and developing positive chemistry. A client “may want more success, more money, closer relationships, a deeper meaning in life [or to] break down prior actions to get to the root of those processes and behaviors that get in the way and set goals relating to self-esteem, relief of anxiety and confidence building.

“Many believe that there is a price to pay to get what you want. This price can be poor health, unbearable stress, strained relationships or lessened productivity. The unfortunate consequence of hanging onto this belief is that it hinders focus on individual goals.”

[divider]Bob Pickard ’74 [/divider]

Bob Pickard wants to set the record straight. He has heard and read that he scored the first touchdown in the history of the Pontiac Silverdome as a member of the Detroit Lions in 1974. Bob Pickard President of Interior Supply JUL-23-2012 Photo by Jo McCultyPickard shakes his head. Nope. His claim to fame was that he caught the first pass in the first exhibition played in the domed stadium. Pickard played in 14 games for the Lions and caught eight passes for 88 yards and one touchdown in 1974, his lone season in the National Football League.

But Pickard said it was providential that in his only season in the NFL, his wide receiver coach was Raymond Berry, who was a Hall of Fame wide receiver for the Baltimore Colts. “He was my boyhood idol,” says Pickard. “It was the highlight of my life. He is such a quality person.”

Berry, a committed Christian, would give note cards to Pickard with Bible verses and other motivational sayings. “He wrote some of them when he was playing. I still have those cards to this day,” he says.

Years later, Pickard’s son, Brian, was an all-state wide receiver at Dublin [Ohio] High School and went on to play at the University of Kentucky under head coach Guy Morriss, who, ironically, played on the offensive line for the New England Patriots when Berry was the team’s head coach. Apparently the Berry doesn’t fall far from the tree either.

Off the field, Pickard has built a life as president of Interior Supply Inc., a business he started in the late 1980s that now has locations in seven cities in Ohio. The company sells building material such as drywall and ceiling supplies—materials that weren’t in high demand when the real estate bubble burst. But, as any good wide receiver would, Pickard knew where to find the openings.

“We have been able to weather the tough times,” he says. “We have done pretty well.”

Full Stride

Professor of management information systems Mark Frolick picked up his first camera at age 13—an old Nikon FTN that he bought for $300 from the high school newspaper photographer who lived down the road.

He started shooting sports. He liked fast subjects.

Years went by, and Frolick continued pursuing his hobby, adding sunsets, beaches and his pet cats to his list of photographic interests. Then, last fall, another subject caught his eye.

He was attending a fundraiser for the Cincinnati Zoo, and he saw a cheetah running. His eyes widened. “I’ve always loved cheetahs,” he says.

When he learned the Zoo lets the cats loose to run in a field on Saturdays, his imagination took off in a sprint as well.

“It’s like poetry in motion,” he says. “It’s what these animals were born to do.”

Frolick showed up with his camera the next Saturday. And the next. And the one after that. He got to know each of the Zoo’s five cheetahs.

“They have distinct personalities,” he says. “Like housecats.”

There’s Sara, the 12-year-old female, who holds the record as the world’s fastest mammal. (Four years ago, she ran 100 meters in 6.13 seconds.) There’s also Nia, Chance, Bravo and Tommy T.

The Cincinnati Zoo is one of only a handful of zoos that run their cheetahs. Keepers release the cats into a field, where they chase a mechanized lure—“basically a dog toy,” says Frolick. Cheetahs aren’t the easiest subjects to photograph. They run as fast as 70 miles per hour, and they turn on a dime.

“Imagine a running back, only running three times as fast,” Frolick says. “You shoot a lot and hope you get something. You spray and pray.”

In hundreds of frames, Frolick might have a few keepers. The rest? “I call them my cheetah butt shots,” he says. “Because that’s all you get. They’re gone.”

Frolick has compiled his favorite cheetah photos into an unpublished book. He’s already adding to that collection. The Cincinnati Zoo has the best cheetah program in the country, he says. He’ll be back documenting these quick cats “any time they’ll let me.”

Where is George Budde Buried?

Mysteries and myths continue to enshroud the life and death of George Budde.

The baffling circumstances of his death, certainly. And other quandaries: Where does Budde’s body now rest, for instance? Is he sleeping eternally in a family plot at an aging Cincinnati cemetery, as many believe, or is he still interred in the earth—half a world away—at a farmstead near a town called Mouze?

“It’s astounding how little information is actually out there,” says Price Hill Historical Society volunteer Richard Jones, one of those who have been tracking down elusive connections. “I’m disturbed to not find more about George Budde in the [burial] records.”

Jones and other battle buffs have made a mission out of delving for answers, plumbing through historical society and military archive vaults. Fortunately, some original source material does survive, not the least of which are fellow soldier’s correspondences from the wartime front.

Version one from a comrade: George’s body is buried on the banks of the Meuse River, about three kilometers below the town of Mouzon, and the grave was properly marked.

Or, by another official report: George’s remains were carried back across the river and buried near the Lasatelle Farmhouse on the road between Beaumont and Pouilly, about half a mile inland from the Meuse.

Yet another version has George’s coffin returned home.

There certainly was a ceremony back in Cincinnati. Newspapers report George being laid to rest at the Old St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Price Hill, after a glorious military parade from Holy Family Church. The funeral service itself was elaborate. A catafalque representing Budde’s coffin was draped with an American flag, “while 10 soldiers from Fort Thomas were on guard.” Khaki-colored candles flickered in tribute.

Cemetery records, however, state “No record of internment” of any body beneath the headstone at the family plot.

Family markers note the graves at Old St. Joseph’s today. George’s tombstone is still flanked by his parents and siblings. A huge catalpa tree towers over the gravesites, dropping palm-like leaves on the landscape. Each Memorial Day, members of the now-disbanded George W. Budde American Legion Post No. 507 gather at the grave for a commemoration ceremony.

If he is indeed buried atop these bluffs of Price Hill, George has a view of his home on Hawthorne Avenue.

On The Road

One of William Verbryke, S.J.’s, favorite stories of pilgrimage when he was in charge of novices in the Detroit Province involved two young Jesuits who decided to hitchhike together from San Antonio, Texas. Westward ho!

They began at a truck stop, sticking out their thumbs, thinking truckers would be more willing to pick up hitchhikers. No luck.

After awhile, a disheveled-looking man walked toward them. They worried that he would ask for money, and they had only $35 each to last the whole month. But the homeless man surprised them.

“If you’re looking for a ride,” he said, “you should go stand over there.” He pointed to a different part of the road.

Turns out, he knew what he was talking about.

“They were worried about having to give their money away to the old man,” says Verbryke, director of the Jesuit community at Xavier, “but instead they were learning to trust in God, because someone they thought they would have to help ended up helping them.”

The tradition of the Jesuit pilgrimage has had a long history since Ignatius Loyola experienced his own pilgrimage that led to the creation of the Jesuit order in 1540. The experience was so profound that he penned it as a requirement for men who wanted to join the Society of Jesus.

In the U.S., the pilgrimage has not always been a month-long trek on one’s own to learn how to trust in God. It has taken on various forms depending on the province, the decade and the politics of the times. Prior to Vatican II in the mid-1960s, for instance, life at the novitiates where novices first enter the Jesuit order was more insulated and monastic.

Novices were introduced to the idea of pilgrimage and might be asked to go through the motions, such as walking as a group one day from one parish to another and back, or counting volunteer work in a hospital as a pilgrimage experience. Doing an actual pilgrimage was considered not practicable—especially when the political atmosphere at the time made it dangerous.

John Heim, S.J., director of the Music Series at Xavier, recalls the anti-Catholic attitudes—directed at men who, by joining the clergy, avoided the draft—in the 1950s.

That all changed after Vatican II instructed the orders to revisit their foundations, Verbryke says.

When the Detroit province added a pilgrimage experience, it was a modified two-week trip. It has since become a month-long experience with the merger of the Detroit and Chicago provinces with the Wisconsin province, which has always practiced the monthly pilgrimage.

When Verbryke returned as a novice director in Detroit from 2002-2010, he found sending his young charges out into the world for 30 days with nothing but a little cash and a bus ticket quite nerve-wracking—for him. He required them to check in weekly to let him know they were okay. Usually the calls fall off toward the second half of the month as the novices become more accustomed to being on their own.

Novices spend time before their trip in discussion with their spiritual directors about what they want to accomplish on the pilgrimage and where they should go. Their trips vary—one novice went to Mexico City to tour the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and related sites, another spent the month reuniting with his sister. One decided he would spend the month walking, so he took the bus from St. Paul, Minn., to Milwaukee and started walking back, averaging 15 miles a day. He stayed at Catholic rectories, convents and monasteries at night and grew so scruffy looking that the novitiate received nine calls to confirm his identity.

Novices are supposed to encounter poverty and doing without typical comforts, but they are allowed to accept donations as long as it’s within reason. They carry a letter of introduction from the novice director explaining the purpose of the pilgrimage. Verbryke said he once got multiple calls from one parish that didn’t trust the novice’s story and wanted to make sure he was legit before offering him a place to stay.

“Most of our novices are willing to do it, but some are so fearful of the unknown and of being without the comforts they’re used to,” he says. “We tell them to be prudent and don’t take any risks.”

Matt Dunch, S.J., now teaching philosophy at Xavier, was one of the fearful ones. His pilgrimage was only for a week, but it nearly scared the pants off him. He took a night bus from Detroit to Washington, D.C., with plans of staying at a Benedictine monastery for the week.

“It was my first bus trip,” he says. “It was so foreign to my experience of flying with no connections. The bus was stopping in these God-awful places. I was just puzzled. It was not a negative experience, and I know that’s how most of the world works.”

When he got off the bus in the morning and made his way to the monastery by the early afternoon, he was greeted with a resounding “no” by the monk who answered the door in jeans and a sweatshirt. Dunch was stunned. This was not what he expected, but as he walked away he had an odd feeling of lightness and relief that his plan to hunker down at the monastery failed. Being rejected wasn’t so bad after all.

He got a warmer reception at a Jesuit community house, which let him stay for two nights. Then he stayed with a priest friend in Arlington who invited him to a dinner event for youth with the Archbishop of Baltimore. Dunch, who has a slim build, to borrow black clerical clothing that hung on him like a gunnysack. But he was happy to be in a place where he felt welcomed and to meet such an important member of the Church.

The next day, sitting near Capitol Hill, he was swarmed by an entourage of 200 members of Congress, led by senators Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who had just passed legislation raising the minimum wage. It was a heady moment for Dunch. He ended the week touring historic Jesuit sites and attending a friend’s wedding, happy to have survived his week of pilgrimage having learned something about himself in the process.

“My overall experience was that it loosened my grip on having to plan everything in advance,” Dunch says. “I was petrified of the idea of the pilgrimage, but I’m more trusting now.”

Stories like Dunch’s prove to Verbryke the value of the pilgrimage experience.

“They realize they do have a safety net, but so many of the people they meet on the road do not. They learn about a whole slice of humanity,” he says. “The only failed pilgrimage experiment is the one they don’t process. We always ask them later, where did you meet God in this?”

Learning to Trust

Matthew Lieser lies curled up in the dirt, shivering, his raincoat offering the only protection against the damp, chilly weather of the Pacific Northwest. Huddled between a row of bushes and a wall of St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Portland, Lieser is scared. Like so many of the homeless, he has nowhere to go and no one to help him.

Then he hears the voices.

It’s 2:00 a.m. The bars are closing, spewing their patrons onto the streets, and three drunken men are sauntering his way. Their voices grow louder as they get closer, and he begins to hear their words. They are shouting obscenities at the Catholic Church. Afraid, Lieser begins praying that he won’t be discovered. But as the voices continue to get louder and closer, Lieser begins to wonder: “Where’s God?”

[divider]•••[/divider]

The 67th paragraph of the Jesuit Constitution directs all Jesuit novices to do a month-long pilgrimage “without money… begging from door to door… to grow accustomed to discomfort in food and lodging.” The tradition is a lesson in trust that began with the order’s co-founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, whose own experience of pilgrimage transformed him from a warrior into a man of God.

In America, each of the nine provinces practices its own unique version of the pilgrimage, and none is closer to Ignatius’ original directive than that of the Wisconsin province. Novices are sent off with $35, a one-way bus ticket and an order to be home for dinner at 4:00 p.m., exactly 30 days later. The cash and the ticket get them only so far. The novices, most in their 20s, must rely on their faith, their wits and the generosity of others to make it through.

It’s an experience that frightens some and energizes others. But the lesson is always the same—personal vulnerability and complete trust in God. Lieser can bear witness.

“I was scared,” Lieser says, recalling his encounter with the drunken men in Portland. “That was the low point of my pilgrimage. I thought, why am I doing this? Where’s God? But it opened my eyes to the fact that a lot of people have to deal with this.”

Lieser, a 2003 graduate, is not alone. Several other Xavier alumni—Jeff Dorr, Julio Minsal-Ruiz, Ryan Masterson—have all wandered through city streets or rural villages on their way to taking their vows. All are now in the First Studies program of academic studies at Jesuit universities in the U.S.

And all are wiser for their experiences. Here are their stories:

 
[divider]Matthew Lieser[/divider]
On April 15, 2010, Matthew Lieser boarded a Greyhound bus bound for Spokane, Wash. He carried a book bag holding four changes of clothes, a Swiss Army knife to open bottles and cans, a rain coat, a Bible, a journal and a spiritual guide. No phone, no bank cards, no computer.

Two days later, at 5:00 p.m., he checked into Spokane’s Union Gospel Mission, where he was required to take a breathalyzer test before being allowed to participate in his required evening chores and chapel. Then he was handed a bundle of pajamas and told to get in line for a group shower. Petrified, he thought of fleeing to the safety of the Jesuit residence at nearby Gonzaga University, but in deciding to stay, he met Chuck, a homeless man in a wheelchair who lost a foot to frostbite. Chuck wanted to visit the cathedral in downtown Spokane. With nothing on his agenda the next day, which began with a rude wake-up call at 5:00 a.m. and an order to leave the shelter, they took off, Lieser wheeling Chuck the two miles to the cathedral and back.

While there, Lieser got permission from the priest to speak at the morning Mass. His talk focused on his pilgrimage and so captivated the congregation that many waited in line 40 minutes to speak with him afterward. He received invitations of places to stay, money, a rosary and a small diamond ring to keep him safe. It’s inscribed “In Christ Always.”

The gifts made it difficult for Lieser to stick to his goal “to encounter discomfort materially and to learn to trust in God’s will.” In planning his journey with his spiritual director, Lieser chose to challenge himself by experiencing homelessness and poverty. He would stay in homeless shelters in every city on his journey, but he would not ignore God’s generosity from the people he met.

“In every city, I met people who took me out of the shelters and gave me food and offered me money,” he says. “I ended up making over $2,500 from people’s generosity. One lady bought me a plane ticket.”

From Spokane, Lieser traveled to Portland, Boise, Denver, Chicago and Cincinnati before heading home to Detroit, using the money people gave him to pay for bus tickets and an Amtrak train trip to Chicago. In Portland, he visited his cousin, a Catholic priest, and worked at the parish in exchange for a few nights’ stay. People he met at a church in Boise practically fought over the chance to take him in. And in Denver, he spent the night at a shelter that did not screen for alcohol or drug use with people who were “high, drunk and fighting.” Frightened, he moved to a cheap, dirty hostel for a few days and then to the Jesuits’ Regis University to rest up before moving on.

In Chicago he visited a Jesuit community where he lived for six months before joining the order. He gladly helped with mowing,

painting and in the soup kitchen in exchange for three nights on the rectory floor. And finally in Cincinnati, he came full circle with the place where his discerning about becoming a Jesuit began, when he was a student at Xavier and an employee of Chiquita. He stayed at the Drop Inn Center shelter in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, visited his brother, gave away the rest of his money and shot back up the interstate to Detroit.

It was his experience in Portland, however, that sticks with him as the most traumatic and transformative. Finding every shelter already full, he went to the cathedral and pounded on the door. When no one answered, it dawned on him that he would have to sleep outside.

He didn’t get a wink of sleep, he says. But as he waited on the ground, wondering what would happen next, he got a glimpse of what life’s like for people who are always homeless and scared. It met a goal of his pilgrimage: “to be in solidarity with the poor and experience poverty but not to ignore God’s generosity… and his care will sustain you.”

 
[divider] Julio Minsal-Ruiz [/divider]
Julio Minsal-Ruiz stood before a waterfall and marveled at his incredible fortune.

The waterfall was a consolation, a gift in the middle of a journey into the unknown. Ruiz and two other Jesuit novices were stumbling their way through a forest in the western Dominican Republic, taking the advice of local villages that it was a shortcut to a nearby town. The waterfall offered them a shower, a drink and a chance to regroup, but they were not quite sure of the path beyond.

“That’s what pilgrimage is,” he says. “An experience of bare, almost nakedness of humanity without technology or big-city commercialism. All of that is left behind and all of a sudden all you have before you is a waterfall, trees, a mango in your hand and a path before you.”

The companions discussed going back to the main dirt road. Though long, it was guaranteed to get them to Río Limpio and the end of their 30-day pilgrimage. But no, they decided, they would trust the villagers. So they followed the path away from the waterfall, up and down hills, catching glimpses of Río Limpio in the distance.

After awhile, however, they didn’t see the village anymore, just mountains. They began to worry. It was late, they were in thick woods, and giant thunderheads were looming. Suddenly the mountains boomed. Lightning struck. Thunder cracked. The rain turned the path into a slippery slurry. At a point of confusion, fear and near panic, the young Jesuits began emptying their packs to lighten their loads. Finally, the path just stopped. They were stranded alone at the top of a mountain in the middle of a rain-drenched forest and had no idea where to go.

Thirty days earlier, their journey had begun with a simple admonition from their novice director to put everything they had in the hands of God and surrender themselves to the experience they were about to face. They were driven from the novitiate in Santiago and dropped off in the town of Dajabon on the Haitian border. From there they fanned out in groups of three along dirt and gravel roads to various collections of villages. Each novice then peeled off to stay a week in a different village.

They carried no money or cell phones, just a few clothes, a water bottle, a prayer book and a letter of introduction from the novitiate, which proved unnecessary as the people were long familiar with the Jesuit practice of pilgrimage and welcomed the wanderers. Ruiz found just walking into a town could set off an argument over whose house he stayed in, where he ate dinner and how he spent his days.

“Many times the poorest people in the poorest towns were often the people who were the most generous,” Ruiz says. “They would move mountains to make things appear, like putting food on the table.”

Ruiz approached each community with an offer to work. “Our experience was to work alongside them and experience the work of the rural farmer,” he says. But for Ruiz, who grew up in Miami and graduated in 2009 with psychology and philosophy degrees, milking cows and plowing fields involved steep learning curves. “It was very humbling.”

He stayed in homes of simple construction—cement block with zinc metal roofs. Cooking took place outdoors around an open fire pit under a roof of cooling palm branches. The women cooked rice and beans in a big pot with a single spoon. Sometimes they had meat. Always they had mangos, which, Ruiz learned, are never in short supply in the Dominican. He always carried a couple whenever he traveled between villages, wearing his wide-brimmed hat an older Jesuit gave him to keep the sun at bay. “You could never go hungry, because mangos were everywhere. Even traveling, there was always a mango tree,” he says.

But standing at the top of the mountain, lost, Ruiz’s mind whirled with thoughts of hopelessness, even death, and the very real possibility that they would never be found. “When the path ended, we really kind of lost everything. We had no hope of anyone finding us. It was a very critical life or death situation.”

They had to do something. Hearing a river below, they decided to make their way down the mountain, follow the river downstream and hope it would lead somewhere. After about an hour, they came to a little shack with a well-tended garden. The farmer was helpful, pointing the way to Río Limpio—past oak trees and across fences, fields and more rivers in the distance.

Three hours later, at 8:00 p.m., they arrived—12 hours after they had set out that morning. They were greeted with warm food, dry beds and the company of their Jesuit colleagues. Ruiz realized that even though he had despaired, he’d been determined to complete the pilgrimage and had found hope in the process.

“We’d almost completed the objective of the pilgrimage which is to put everything we had in the hands of God,” Ruiz says. “Even the path we first thought we had was taken from us. The clothes were lost, the food was gone, but somehow God was there and leading us. All these things we thought were ours, but actually they’re things He has given to us. Everything we have is a gift, and that’s the main objective.”

 
[divider]Jeff Dorr[/divider]
Jeff Dorr stepped off the Greyhound bus and into the hot, humid air of Atlanta, tired and wrinkled after a 24-hour trip from Detroit. Wearing a plain brown T-shirt, khaki pants and flip-flops, Dorr intended to walk 20 miles southeast to a Trappist monastery where he was planning to spend his pilgrimage in prayerful, contemplative solitude amidst the natural beauty of the monks’ pine forests, lakes and blooming trees.

Within minutes, however, his plan vanished.

The first person he stopped on the street to ask for directions had just gotten out of prison. They talked for a few minutes, and Dorr was so moved that he gave the man $10 for train fare. A few steps farther on, he met Kenny, a homeless man with health problems. They talked, too, and Dorr ended up giving him the remainder of his cash so he could eat. He also dug a pair of socks out of his backpack to give him.

That’s when it hit him.

“I realized that I felt drawn to a new focus,” Dorr says. “I knew what homeless people looked like and sounded like, but I never knew experientially what it meant to be homeless. I thought maybe that’s where this should go. Something of that experience of being on the street and being without was what I was meant to be doing.”

So Dorr shelved the security of the monastery and took to the mean streets of Atlanta. He checked into the Atlanta Union Mission where he discovered that life at a shelter is unpredictable at best. Each day hundreds of Atlanta’s down-and-out check into the shelter, while across the street the Atlanta Aquarium welcomes the better-heeled into its underwater wonderland, and the World of Coca-Cola museum entertains the paying public at its “Home of Happiness.” The irony didn’t escape Dorr.

Among the dozens of people Dorr met was Vince, a big, tall friendly guy whose stories and engaging personality drew people to him. He hung out every morning at the CNN Center food court and sold cell phones he bought off the black market. Dorr tagged along, and when he asked where the phones came from, Vince simply said, “I don’t ask questions.”

Vince, a former drug dealer, was also fighting lung cancer. One night—after a man tried to pick a fight with him—Vince decided to leave the shelter and go to the hospital emergency room where he could get a bed and a check-up. Dorr went along and slept in the waiting room. In the morning, the hospital gave Vince a free prescription for his pain and discharged him back to the streets.

“I looked at Vince as a real friend,” Dorr says. “He was there with me as I was being exposed to the shelter. I presume that 50 percent of what Vince told me was lies, but I hung out with him half the days I was there. We’d wander around the city together. One thing I gained from the shelter was a whole new appreciation for who ends up there.”

A lot of shelter residents have addiction or mental health issues. Others were like Vince—people who had houses and jobs and then something went wrong, like a divorce. “And now they’re here,” Dorr says. Mark was another example. His strong, fit build and decent clothes—as well as his cell phone—made him seem out of place. One day, Mark looked at Dorr:

“What’s your deal?” he said. “You don’t belong here.”

“What do you mean?” Dorr replied.

“Look around. You’re different.”

Dorr told him his story. The next morning Mark woke up Dorr at 3:30 a.m. to walk to a Waffle House. At breakfast, Mark told Dorr his story—he was a divorced father of two from Chicago and was in Atlanta looking for a job.

In all, Dorr spent 18 nights at the shelter—more than half his pilgrimage. He eventually reported to the monastery, spending seven days digging a ditch, mowing the lawn, eating lunch in silence, attending four of the five daily prayer sessions and learning how to chant. He also stayed in the homes of five different families he met at churches or at the soup kitchens where he volunteered.

“The point of the pilgrimage is to spend the month letting go of our typical securities of home, money, community, and in doing that, come to trust more fully in God,” he says. “I realized how blessed I am, and that no matter what I do, I can’t experience life on the streets the way these guys do. It changed the outlook I had of what I was striving for and what God was calling me to. His message to me was to be with them, but you can’t be them.”

 
[divider]Ryan Materson [/divider]
Ryan Masterson was hungry, so he walked from the bus station in downtown Louisville, Ky., straight into an Applebee’s restaurant he spied nearby. It was a long bus ride from Detroit, after all, and a good lunch would give him energy for the next leg of his trip. He ate alone and enjoyed every bite, but when he went to pay the bill, it was like a sucker punch to the gut.

The bill was $17—half of the $35 he’d been given for his entire two-week pilgrimage. How was he supposed to get through the next 12 days?

Masterson was sent “to do time,” as he puts it, at the Trappist monastery, the Abbey of Gethsemani, south of Louisville. He’d been moved by The Seven Storey Mountain, a book by Thomas Merton, who left his position as an English professor at Columbia University to become a Trappist monk at the abbey in Trappist, Ky. So Masterson requested to spend time at the abbey connecting with the elements that had drawn Merton into a monastic, religious life. For Masterson, the abbey not only connected him to Merton, it became a door to his past—and the oddest place to run into old friends.

Although he arrived at the abbey unannounced, the monks let him in, offering him a room that contained a desk, a cross on the wall and a bed with a box spring “that was made before Patton took Germany.”

During his stay, Masterson ran into a woman who was there for a retreat whom he knew from his home parish in Columbus, Ohio. As they talked about his decision to enter the priesthood, Masterson began to feel an anxiety that gnawed at him in college about his career choice. “I was feeling the conflict of whether to continue on with the Jesuits or go back to medicine.”

The woman offered him a ride to Cincinnati, but he declined. He needed to experience the abbey. For the next four days he lived like a monk—prayers, chants, eating in silence. He thought about relationships he lost, about a cousin killed in Afghanistan, about friends from Xavier he left behind. He was feeling cut off from his world.

“Part of my second-guessing was boiling down to a lack of trust in God or a sense of being unable to trust in that way,” he says. “Our pilgrimage model was about trust but also about where are you lacking in trust and in your real ability to say where you put faith in God and his provenance, and for me that was in a sense of relationship with others.”

Then two things happened. One morning, while strolling the grounds, he walked into a graveyard, and the first grave he came upon was Merton’s. He knew Merton died accidentally in 1968, but he didn’t know he was buried there.

“It was a complete surprise to me,” he says. “I knew he left the monastery and died in Thailand. He was electrocuted, and his body was brought back to Kentucky, and he was buried with all the other monks. I actually got to pray next to where he was buried, and one of his things, his issues, was trusting.”

He also attended the funeral Mass of a monk who died of cancer.

“To see the care these men had for him and his fulfillment in his life was powerful for me,” he says. “They had different prayer periods during the day, and I went in at 3:00 a.m. and even then, I saw an old man reading prayers with a monk who had just passed. I gained a lot from being there for the funeral of someone who died in obscurity in the hills of Kentucky and was utterly happy with his decision to do that.”

When it was time to leave, he began walking down the road in front of the abbey toward Louisville. Just then, a farmer in a pickup truck pulled up and offered him a ride. Upon hearing his story, he gave him a $10 bill, half of which he spent on a modest sandwich at a nearby diner. Coming out of the diner, he looked across the street and saw John, one of his best friends from Xavier.

John offered him a ride to Cincinnati, and it was like a homecoming for Masterson. He saw all his old friends and stayed with a different one each for four nights.

They took him out to dinner and talked long hours late into the night. They not only asked Masterson to let them care for him, they told him they admired his choice of the priesthood. “One of them said, ‘Ryan, I am so proud of you, and what you are doing right now matters and needs to be done. You are happier now than I have seen you in years.’ ”

“It confirmed for me I was making the right decision, and I was ready to go back,” he says. “It was a very intimate pilgrimage through my own experience and learning to trust in the graciousness and charity of others and to trust the relationships I put so much importance on,” Masterson said. “It was a pilgrimage into myself really.”

Against the Wind

[divider]I [/divider]

April 8, 1968. The nation is on the verge of exploding into a firestorm of racial rage over the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., when Garry Wills walks in the front door of the Clayborn Temple in Memphis, Tenn.

Wills stands in the entrance of the church, his two small bags and raincoat in hand, and looks around. The place is packed, but he is alone—a white Catholic from the Midwest in the heart of the poor, black South. A hundred or so striking sanitation workers, whom King came to Memphis to support, fill the pews and try to hammer out the details of getting to King’s funeral in Atlanta, some 400 miles away.

The tension is high, although that wasn’t unexpected. In order to get to the church, Wills has to break the city’s dusk-to-dawn curfew and catches a ride with a surly taxicab driver who keeps a gun on his seat and reflects the unease of the nation by responding to Wills’ chosen destination with a racial slur.

As the plans are hammered out, Wills sits back and observes, collecting an inside look at the living, breathing state of the civil rights movement. He collects more observations at the Lorraine Motel where King was killed, and still more at the funeral home where the embalmers tell him how they had to work all night using plaster to reassemble the right side of King’s face where the bullet blew out his cheek and left the jawbone dangling. When they wheel King out for the viewing, Wills notes how the TV lights “pick out a glint of plaster under the cheek’s powder” and that “not one white person from the town goes through that line.”

The next morning, Wills looks even deeper into the movement, climbing onto the rented second-rate bus and riding 12 hours with the black mourners to the funeral in Atlanta. Folding chairs set up in the aisles block the path to the toilet in the back. They arrive exhausted and cranky—and late.

As the mourners scatter to watch the procession, Wills holds back. He doesn’t need to go. The funeral is the focus of the nation. It’s the main stage. And as the nation’s eyes watch it to see how the drama will unfold, Wills knows he already has the real story. The one from backstage, from behind the curtain.

He begins writing about his experience—a 15,000-word account that runs over 16 pages in Esquire magazine and quickly becomes one of the greatest articles of its era. The story also becomes, in many ways, classic Wills.

His ability to go where others don’t go, look where others don’t look, dig where others don’t dig help him carve out an unexpected life as a writer—a life that over the course of 50 years garners him bylines in Time, The New York Times and Vanity Fair, and etches his name on the cover of more than 40 books.

[See Wills’ author page on Amazon.com]

His ability to reveal America by shining the light on all its many layers, especially the ugly ones, lands him on the list of the greatest “New Journalism” writers alongside Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion and Norman Mailer. And his ability to offer vivid insights into our world and shed new light onto our history—as he brilliantly did with Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg—earn him pinnacle of the writer’s life: the Pulitzer Prize.

In all, they have made Garry Wills one of the best writers of our time. They’ve also made him, in some cases, one of the most scorned.

 

[divider]II [/divider]

Richard Nixon hated Garry Wills.

The nation’s 37th president added Wills to his master list of political enemies in 1970, tucking him in alongside Bill Cosby, Ted Kennedy and The New York Times. Wills’ crime: Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man, a 617-page examination of Nixon—and politics as a whole—in which he concludes that the staunchly conservative Republican president is actually a liberal. Not in the modern liberalism sense—compassion for the poor, big government, tolerance of dissent—but classical liberalism, the liberalism of the Social Darwinians, and, says Wills, “he was as dated as those obsolete specimens.”

Wills didn’t return Nixon’s enmity, though. He admired the late President as intelligent but flawed, and admits he actually felt too sorry for him to feel hatred.

[Watch Garry Wills on the Colbert Report on Nixon, the Tea Party and more.]

But that’s Wills—outspoken, never pulling punches, but honest enough and intelligent enough to back up his claims. That’s one of his virtues. And flaws.

After six years of teaching Greek at Johns Hopkins University, the chair of the department decided he would no longer tolerate Wills’ part-time work—columnist for the ultraconservative magazine National Review and its outspoken editor, William F. Buckley. It was the era of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, but the magazine took a staunchly conservative viewpoint. The department head told Wills to stop writing for Buckley or he would not be recommended for tenure.

Wills refused. He also transferred to the humanities department to teach American history. But his coverage of the anti-war demonstrations and social issues of the time was turning him into a liberal. Eventually, he clashed with Buckley over a piece stating there was no conservative argument for the war.

“I said it’s hurting us and helping the Communists,” Wills says. “He said he couldn’t publish it, and so that ended it. We stopped talking for 30 years, then his sister called me up two years before he died and got us back together.”

 

[divider]III [/divider]

Wills grew up in Adrian, Mich., where his father worked as an appliance salesman. Both his parents were chain smokers, and Wills would escape the smoke by going outside to read comic books and dog stories. He became a voracious reader, which made his father angry, especially when he was caddying while his father played golf. Once his dad paid him $5 not to read. Wills took the money and bought more books.

Neither of his parents went to college, but his mother followed the advice of the Dominican nuns at his Catholic grade school, who said he ought to be challenged more.

So he was sent one state over to Campion High School, a boarding school run by the Jesuits in Prairie du Chien, Wis., where he was immersed in classical studies and the liberal art.

“There was tremendous encouragement for reading, music, debating, oratory and Latin and Greek,” he says. “I was really lucky. In fact, there are none of my later interests that weren’t begun in that school.”

After graduating from Campion, Wills felt the calling to become a Jesuit priest, so he entered seminary at Saint Louis University. Almost immediately, though, he realized it wasn’t for him. He completed his degree, but at the end of the five and a half years, he left. By then it was too late to apply to graduate school, but a Jesuit at the seminary helped him get into Xavier on the condition he work to pay his way.

The summer of 1957 was hot in Cincinnati. The air was humid and thick, hanging motionless inside the walls of Schmidt Hall where Wills spent his days cooped up in the library.

His job: Compare ancient handwritten manuscripts—some in Greek, some in Latin—of the homilies of St. John Chrysostom, one

of the founding fathers of the early Church. The job supported research by former Xavier classics professor Paul Harkins. It was tedious, but it underscored Wills’ ability to work in Greek and helped prepare him for doctoral study at Yale.

But Wills was not a one-dimensional guy. Though steeped in the classics—both his master’s and doctoral theses were on the Greek playwright Aeschylus—he also wrote essays on current events during his free time. Forbidden from publishing them

while in the seminary, he mailed off five of them to magazine editors across the country once he got to Xavier in hopes of getting published.

He got four rejections and one phone call—from Buckley, who tracked Wills down in his Brockman Hall dorm room. Wills’ essay, mocking Time magazine’s baroque style, caught Buckley’s eye.

“Can you come see me?” Buckley asked.

“No,” Wills replied. “I’m working, and I have to start class.”

“What are you working on?”

“A dissertation on Greek drama.”

“Well, would you become our drama critic?”

Wills said no, but Buckley kept talking. Finally he talked Wills into covering Jimmy Hoffa’s testimony at the labor committee hearings presided over by Robert F. Kennedy in Washington, D.C.

When the hearings were called off, Buckley invited Wills back to New York to attend a party at his 5,000-square-foot, 10-room Manhattan maisonette, where intellectuals and movie stars came to mingle.

[Listen to Wills on NPR’s All Things Considered about his autobiography.]

This was pretty heady stuff for a 23-year-old, small-town fellow like Wills. It almost couldn’t get any better. Then, on the flight to New York, a stewardess buckles in next to him and introduces herself: “I’m Natalie Cavallo.”She eyes the egghead book he’s reading about religion and morality, and tells him he’s too young for such complex material. They laugh.

The plane was late, so she offered to drive him to the party. She let him off at the door and drove away before he could think to get her number. “I’m fresh out of seminary and so naïve,” Wills says. In the morning, he called Eastern Airlines and got her number. “We had our first date, and she became my wife of 52 years.”

 

[divider]IV [/divider]

Wills’ tree-shrouded home a block off Lake Michigan in Evanston, Ill., is a library unto itself. By his own estimate, he reads 200 to 300 books a year. Most go into boxes in the basement to be given away.

The ones he keeps are organized by room. English literature takes up the second floor study where he writes. Another room holds his collection of political thought and Latin texts. American novelists and poets occupy the shelves along one wall of the upstairs landing, Greek texts and philosophy on another.

His most prized collection is a 39-volume set of works by John Ruskin, a 19th century English writer and art critic, salvaged for him by a friend in England. It sits on the top shelf of his study. There are also copies of the Bible and writings from the early church, while a collection of Venetian and Italian art occupy a room of their own.

Wills, 77, is no longer teaching since being named professor emeritus of history at Northwestern University in 2005. He spends his days reading and working, getting up around 6:00 a.m. to write on the computer in his study, recently foregoing his preferred method of writing in longhand. He spends afternoons in the library and reads well into the night.

His latest book, Verdi’s Shakespeare: Men of the Theater, was released in October, and he has three more in the works. He writes regularly for The New York Times Book Review and The New York Review of Books.

To relax, he listens to opera with Natalie and plans trips to Italy, their favorite destination. But even there, he can’t stop researching, often visiting the excavated underground baptistery of St. Augustine in Milan.

“I didn’t think I would be a writer,” Wills says. “I thought I would be a teacher.”

 

[divider]V [/divider]

Wills has never had to look for a job. He’s been getting offers to write since Buckley found him at Xavier. The offers continued after he earned a doctorate in classics at Yale in 1961, when he was invited to join Harvard’s new Center for Hellenic Studies.

“My parents thought my field of study was other-worldly, and my mother thought I wouldn’t make a living when I left the seminary,” Wills says. “But I started making money immediately when I got my doctorate. One of the senior fellows [at the center] was at Johns Hopkins, and he hired me. I was very lucky. I was just passed on from teacher to teacher and agent to agent.”

Wills stayed at Johns Hopkins for 18 years before moving to Northwestern in 1980 to teach American history. One of his favorite topics was Abraham Lincoln. Wills had loved Lincoln since high school and enjoyed teaching about the man and his rhetoric. It became the basis of his 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Lincoln at Gettysburg, which analyzes Lincoln’s address that invokes the principles of the Declaration of Independence to redefine the purpose of the Civil War.

[Watch a Conversation with History with Wills.]

A fan of Shakespeare, Wills says great presidents like Lincoln are themselves performers.

“Lincoln invited actors to the White House and read Shakespeare to his secretaries,” he says. “When he had a painter painting him, he read scenes from Shakespeare’s King John about the little boy and broke into tears because his son had just died. They all had this sense of performance. Even Nixon had this sense of performance, but he never could pull it off.”

In 1993, Wills was toasting another great American president, Thomas Jefferson, when he learned he’d won the Pulitzer for Lincoln. The Pulitzer publicists couldn’t reach him beforehand, so he learned about the award when the Washington Post tracked him down at Monticello.

“The guy introducing me before the toast said I’d just won the Pulitzer,” he says. “I was pleased of course. I don’t know if I was surprised. I don’t really think about those things.”

Letter from the Front Lines

(Editor’s note: Rick knew in high school that he would join the Army. He was a Junior ROTC cadet and enrolled in the ROTC program at Xavier as a freshman. He graduated from Xavier in May 2010 and is a fire support officer for C Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Rick is deployed to Kunar Province, Afghanistan, and expects to return to his base at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, next April. He was a close friend of Michael Runyan, who was killed in Aghanistan three months after attending Rick’s wedding. Rick sent emails about his experiences to date.)

I went to William Henry Harrison High School in Evansville, Ind. There I joined the JROTC program about a month before 9/11 happened. I was always interested in the Army. My Dad and I are war movie junkies, so that is what I think sparked my interest. As I got closer to graduating high school, I learned more about XU and ROTC.

In JROTC you have no military commitment, but people always asked me if I was going to stick with it because of the war. I didn’t think of it that way. The war wasn’t my deciding factor for whether I was going to do ROTC, and I found it funny, odd, interesting, that people did think that way. I wanted to join the Army for the experience, excitement, adventure and to serve my country. Joining the Army was the best way to do all of those things.

When I graduated high school, I got accepted to XU. My Dad and I went to visit and we both fell in love with the campus and the people. I went in for my ROTC scholarship interview and was given one on the spot. That pretty much sealed the deal for me.

While I was at XU, I met my wife Liz. We both lived in Kuhlman Hall freshman year. We got married right after she finished her Master of Occupational Therapy, and she moved to Hawaii. She has done a great job making the adjustment to Army life. After being here for a little less than four months now, I see that the toughest job in the Army is
that of an Army wife. It takes a strong woman to successfully fill that role. It is something that I have learned over the last two years.

Michael Runyan was a year older than me, and I looked to him as a mentor and role model. My wife, Liz who is also a XU grad for both her graduate and undergraduate degrees, would always say that I was a lot like Mike, and that we even had the same initials. I heard about Mike’s death when I was stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Mike’s brigade was also stationed there.

It was an honor for me to serve with Mike both at XU and then again in the 25th Infantry Division. It is a bond that I will always share with him. To remember Mike’s sacrifice and what he meant to me, I wear a bracelet everyday with his name, unit, day he was killed in action (KIA), and American flag, and the 25th ID patch. It’s just a way to remind me about the sacrifice he made for me and millions of other people he will never meet.

I am the Fire Support Officer for my Company. That means I am the subject matter expert when it comes to artillery, mortars, close combat attack, which is controlling helicopters, and close air support, which is controlling fixed wing aircraft. I help plan
all of these things in support of my company’s maneuvers to give them more firepower. Back in the day, XU only commissioned field artillery officers, so there is a tradition of artillerymen coming out of XU, and I am proud to be part of that.

I have been very fortunate as an artilleryman because I have gotten to do my job quite a bit. We have shot hundreds of artillery and mortar rounds and have dropped dozens of bombs in support of our company. Looking on a tactical level, our mission is to secure a road that runs through our area of operation. Americans use the road to drive out and meet with the populace, do daily patrols and as a resupply route. The Afghans use it just as we use I-71. That is how they get to work, school, the market and to the larger cities in Afghanistan.

However, the bigger mission, and what we have been working on ever since we arrived in country in April 2011, is working with the Afghan National Security Force. We are trying to build up the soldiers and policemen, as well as their systems, so they will have the ability to sustain and protect themselves and the people of Afghanistan after we leave. It is a challenge because we are starting from scratch. Afghanistan has never had a central army or very organized national government to support an army.

Sept. 11: A Look Back at Academic Day

The panel discussion on globalization was wrapping up. It had gone well, and James Buchanan, director of the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, was excited about the possibilities for interdisciplinary teaching he wanted to explore with his Xavier colleagues. He envisioned a new course of study involving economics, theology, political science and environmental studies.

He closed with an astute observation: “Our future will either be characterized by monoculture, like McDonalds, or Jihad.” Of course, he was saying, it’s our choice how to move forward and embrace the opportunities that globalization can bring or we’ll end up with one of those two undesirable outcomes.

Then Roger Fortin, academic vice president and provost, came up to announce there had been a plane crash in New York. When he did, the mood of the whole day shifted.

The day was Sept. 11, 2001, and the first plane had just slammed into a tower at the World Trade Center. Michael J. Graham, S.J., was in his first year as Xavier’s president, and he had arranged for the University’s first Academic Day when classes are suspended and faculty take a day to concentrate on exploring new directions for academic offerings.

Ironically, the theme of the day was globalization, which was also one of the panel topics. The others were chaos and complexity theory, and community building.

“Not only was the president there, but also the chair of the Board of Trustees, Mike Conaton,” Fortin says. “Someone came up to me and said you should know there has been a crash in the World Trade Tower. All of a sudden a couple of televisions were put outside the Duff banquet room in the corridor where people could watch the event.”

Fortin told a few people in the room, including Graham, and then made the announcement to the gathering. They didn’t suspect then that it might be a terrorist attack, but when he was notified of the second plane crash, Fortin says, “we began to conjecture it was something sinister.”

Adjustments were made to the day’s programming in lieu of canceling. People were offered the opportunity to go home. Most stayed. There were prayers as the day wore on and moments for people to reflect on their sorrow and sadness. The group grew closer, Buchanan says, and became a community.

“There was a sense of solidarity that day,” Fortin says.

“We decided to make it very respectful, and it took on a different tone and moved away from the agenda. We couldn’t ignore what was going on, so we began talking about it and tried to connect what was happening outside to what was being discussed inside. It ended on a kind of dark note, but people commented on the fact that it was good we were all together and united in prayer and remembrance.”

Marco Fatuzzo, professor of physics, said it was difficult to focus on his panel, chaos and complexity, which convened after lunch. And the audience had trouble paying attention to the topic. “It was like an out of body experience,” he says. “I could see in the people’s faces this was not what they were thinking about.”

But the connection between the terrorist events in New York and his panel’s discussion about what happens to systems when the unexpected occurs did not go unnoticed, Fatuzzo says. It was, unfortunately, a perfect example.

Later, as Fortin returned to his office, he got a call from the wife of one of his best friends. Robert Jalberts and Fortin had gone to high school together growing up in Maine. She told him that Robert had been on the second plane.

While Jalbert’s death was a terrible blow, Fortin says the family turned it into a positive outcome when they used their settlement money to set up the Robert Jalbert Endowed Scholarship fund of $250,000 to help students from their high school attend Xavier. The first of those students graduated in May. Another three began as freshmen this fall.

“It’s very meaningful to the family because now they have their father’s memory,” Fortin says.

On the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11, people seem more aware of the responsibilities involved in managing a global community, he says.

“9/11 is a vivid reminder that we are living in a global community, so for globalization to be the first topic (of Academic Day) is symbolically reflected in what 911 is all about,” Fortin says. “It is a reminder of the complexity and of some of the sinister aspects of globalization—that evil can be at our door more immediately than ever in our history.”

All the more reason that Xavier should create a course that looks at all aspects of globalization. Poli Sci 316 does just that. This interdisciplinary examination of the political, cultural, economic, theological and ethical dimensions of globalization is team-taught by faculty from economics, political science and theology, and includes invited guest lecturers from the U.S. and abroad.

“Globalization,” says Buchanan, “is now the most interdisciplinary course on campus.”

Sept. 11- A Personal Reflection

(Editor’s note: Rabbi Abie Ingber is founding director of the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement) 

In February of this year, I conducted a special diversity education session for a colleague with high school educators from the Greater Cincinnati area. I had assembled a team of five panelists from among the student leadership of the Interfaith Community Engagement initiative at Xavier University. The students represented diverse faith, cultural and ethnic traditions including Jewish, Hispanic, African American, Hindu and Muslim. Each offered brief vignettes from their high school and formative educational years. The students were erudite and able to present difficult moments with great humor. The Muslim student shared a story of a high school teacher who had failed even to acknowledge her faith. The two of them chanced to be walking out of the school at the same time just before the winter vacation. “You’re Muslim aren’t you?” said the teacher. The Muslim student nodded. “Then have a Happy Hanukkah,” he said.

At the session, a number of the teachers kept pushing for ‘take-homes.’ As we neared the end, I suggested they would be best served integrating their 3:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. lives with their 7:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. lives. “Live your after-school hours just as you teach during your classroom hours and you will find even greater meaning when you return to the classroom the next morning,” I offered. One teacher asked for an example. Some of the earlier questions about what we had learned from 9-11 were still ringing in my mind, so I shared the following personal story.

“On Sept. 11, when the airplanes hit, all I wanted was to be with my daughters. The next day, coming back to work I noticed the new Middle Eastern restaurant that had just opened a few doors from my office. I walked over to warn the new owner, a Palestinian, of the possibilities of hateful repercussions from the attacks. I entered, introduced myself to Kallid, the owner, and explained that some people might lash out against him and his Middle Eastern eatery. I told him that if someone entered intending to do him, his workers or his restaurant harm, he should leave the dangerous situation immediately and quickly come to my Jewish Center for protection. When he asked why I was doing this, I replied that no one had done it for my parents (who were Holocaust survivors). I gave him my business card signed “to my friend Kallid.” He was visibly touched and I returned to my office, hoping his situation would not deteriorate.

“A few days later, one of my Jewish students asked why my business card was displayed in the front window of the new Arab restaurant. I did not understand, so I went up to the restaurant to see for myself. My business card was indeed taped to the inside of the window, exactly as my student said. Kallid apparently felt that the card of friendship from a Rabbi might deflect some of the venom directed at him and had placed it as somewhat of a protective amulet in his front window. It stayed there for years.”

When this story was finished, I thanked our panelists and the assembled educators. As my students and I were leaving, my Muslim student told me she was so excited she almost interrupted my story. “Rabbi, my mother worked in that restaurant. I remember for weeks she kept telling our family of a Rabbi who had come into the restaurant and offered his protection for our safety. This Rabbi was a hero in our home and I never knew who he was,” she replied.
It was a tearful hug of incredible holy proportions. Ten years had flown by until a magical Xavier reunion. Perhaps 9-11 didn’t change us only for the worse.

Sept. 11- 10 Years Later

(Editor’s note: James Buchanan is director of the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue at Xavier.)

In the days and weeks immediately following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we all experienced a range of intense emotions. From the initial shock, we moved through sadness, grief and fear to confusion and anger. Some of us thought that this great national tragedy needed to be a time to begin a new process of reflection about America and a new conversation about our past and our future, and about the values upon which those should be founded. The prayer services and dialogue sessions which began in earnest in those days quickly faded as the country set itself on a course of justice, which too often resembled revenge, embarking on a new “war on terror,” which has led us to Afghanistan and Iraq and finds us engaged in the impossible task of nation-building all over the world. After 10 years, we are emotionally, spiritually and financially exhausted, we feel less secure than ever and we know that American values, leadership and prestige are in question, if not under full-scale attack, all around the globe.
It is time to begin a new national conversation—the one which we should have begun 10 years ago but for which we clearly were not ready. These are precarious days for the United States. Economically, we face a situation that, regardless of what the politicians of every party tell us, has no real fix, at least not one that we have yet found. Business as usual will not solve our problems this time because they are too deep and too systemic. Both the market and the government seem to be wholly corrupted by greed and power. How do we turn to either? What we know is that the middle class is suffering the brunt of the economic downturn; our cities are decaying; our families and communities are disintegrating. Samuel Huntington’s prediction of a “clash of civilizations” seems to be coming true, even if not as he predicted. The U.S. faces the challenges of China on the one hand and the Muslim world on the other. The developing countries are rightly demanding to be heard and to have equal opportunity. Many choose to believe that 9/11 had mostly to do with religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was about the use of religion in profoundly non-religious ways and for non-religious purposes. 9/11 was not about religion, it was about a global political and economic struggle that we are right in the middle of. We all feel this deep sense that we are in a time of seemingly unending crisis. Clearly it is time for a new conversation.

Out of crisis comes hope because it is in times of crisis that we are driven to the struggle of discovering again what we truly hold to be of value. What is the United States and who are we as Americans? How do we honor America’s commitment to religious liberty and pluralism?  How do we balance our democratic aspirations and our economic aspirations? What should America’s role and character in the world be? Have we lost the sense of who we really are?

It is time to come back home and look inwardly, to discover those core values that will renew our communities and ourselves. Instead of responding to this period of crisis and stress with the strained and shrill voices of ideology and hatred, we need to find that national voice that strives to speak as “we the people.” We need to talk about and revel in the diversity of our nation, not use that diversity as a cause for fear and bigotry. We need to have a serious conversation about the relationship between liberty and security—liberty for all and security for all—and the sacrifices we, each of us, are willing to make to ensure both. We need to be in serious, constructive dialogue with China, the Muslim world and the developing South, we need them as partners not adversaries. We need to figure out how to transform the “clash” of civilizations into a collaboration of civilizations. All of this demands a new global conversation, but first it demands a new national conversation.

The sad truth is that we no longer have a national conversation; we have a national shouting match. A shouting match in which no one listens, no minds are ever changed and all that seems to result from the shouting is more strident ideology and greater divisions. So before we can really have a national conversation about what is of real value to our country and to our lives, we first have to commit to even having a national conversation. We have to be willing to risk our presuppositions and our prejudices. We have to be open to the possibility of being transformed by such a conversation. We have to listen.

Ten years after, let’s use this moment to begin anew, to commit to a new conversation, to honor this most significant moment of our past by reflecting deeply upon our values, our identity and our hopes for the future.