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Trafficking with the Devil

5:12 PM  Dec 10th, 2010
by Theresa Flores ’07

At 15 years old, Theresa Flores ’07 became, literally, a modern-day slave when an organized crime syndicate sold the teenager’s body over and over for two years. Twenty-five years later, she’s adding her voice to a new anti-slavery movement. This is her story.

I had thought all these years that I was the only one.

I was born in Akron, Ohio, to a normal Irish, Catholic family. I grew up in what most people would consider a privileged family. I was expected to attend college; it wasn’t a matter of if but where. Over the years, I earned a bachelor’s degree at Ball State University and a master’s in counseling education at the University of Dayton.

However, none of those privileges, expectations and abilities made me immune.

I never knew the name for what happened to me. There wasn’t a word for it. In our society, we require a label for everything: our race, the part of town we live in, our hobbies and interests, our mental states of being. For 23 years, I felt I could not fully heal until I knew what to call what happened to me.

I was a bilingual social worker in my early 40s when one day a co-worker asked whether I could attend a conference in her place.

“Theresa, I signed up for this and the agency paid for it but I can’t attend,” she said. “I have a feeling you need to go to this.”

I looked at the paper she handed me. At the top of it were the words “human trafficking.” It looked interesting, so I agreed.

All that week, I kept thinking of the upcoming conference, and it weighed heavily upon my heart. The night before, I told my children that everyone had to go to school the next day because I had a very important meeting I could not miss. Sure enough, my 8-year-old son came to me the next morning and said he didn’t feel well.

“Too bad,” I said. “You have to go to school. You will be fine.”

Feeling a little guilty, I drove to the conference and sat down in the large auditorium at the State Trooper’s Training Academy in Columbus, Ohio. I listened intently to an expert in the field talk about human trafficking and read on the large overhead screen that modern-day slavery is essentially when one person uses manipulation, threats or blackmail to make another person perform a sex act in which the first person benefits financially. Within five minutes of being there that morning, I knew
why I was supposed to be there. I finally had my words.

He explained that human trafficking is the second leading crime in the world. I was immediately devastated, for I had thought all these years that I was the only one. I knew, at that moment, that it was my destiny to be at the conference and time to fully heal.

After that day, I began my journey of speaking out and sharing my horrific story with anyone willing to hear it. Because no one saved me. And honestly, who would have thought this was happening to a kid like me?

Yes, a kid like me. I had a typical family with two parents and three younger brothers. We lived in an affluent suburb of Detroit, in a home with four bedrooms and five bathrooms. I was a comfortable teenage girl with nice clothes and my own phone line in my room. I wasn’t abused, I didn’t do drugs and I wasn’t a runaway. Yet, I was vulnerable and targeted. We moved frequently because of my father’s executive job. And while it was always an adventure, we never had any extended family around, no supports and were always the new kids. There wasn’t anyone to say, “Hey, Theresa is acting different.”

At my new school, I developed a crush on a boy whom my parents had forbidden me to date. Even my friends said it was not a good idea to associate with him. But I was 15 years old, and I had a crush on him. One day, he offered me a ride home from school. I accepted, as any teenager would do. That simple decision changed my life forever.

I ignored the red flags when he turned the wrong way out of the school parking lot and again when he pulled into his driveway and invited me in “for a moment.” I ignored my gut instinct and convinced myself that everything would be OK.

Inside, he offered me a soda to drink. I accepted it. I discovered later the drink was laced with a drug. That afternoon in what I thought was a big empty house, this young man raped me. I was devastated. Here I was, a 15-year-old Catholic virgin, a suburban teen committed to saving sexuality for marriage. As devastating as that was, it would pale in comparison with what I was about to endure for the next two years.

Little did I know that this boy’s family had strong organized crime connections, and the rape was only the first step of a broader plan they had for me.

My rape was photographed by the boy’s older cousins, who confronted me with the pictures soon after my attack. I was already broken and crushed from the rape, and now they told me they would share the pictures with my family, my priest, my classmates, with anyone, unless I “earned” them back.

They threatened me and my family, forcing me into a life of servitude and debt bondage I could hardly imagine.

Over the next two years, I was watched everywhere I went, whether at my part-time job, babysitting for friends or walking to and from school. This was the arrangement: They would summon me at any hour, on any day, and I had to appear. Sometimes they took me out of class or picked me up after school. Some nights, while my family slept behind closed bedroom doors, they called my private phone line and told me they were on the way to pick me up. I was told that I would die if I told anyone and that they would kill my family if I refused. I was terrified. Saying no was not an option.

Over and over, I was delivered to very nice homes where men waited for me. I never knew how long I would be gone, where I was or even if I would ever see my home again. All I knew was I couldn’t escape until they were finished with me.

To them, I was a nameless commodity, a service more profitable than drug-dealing. One night, after being used repeatedly, a well-dressed, older man came into the room.

He looked out of place among the typical brutes.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

I knew better than to answer, having made that mistake before, so I remained silent. The gentleman turned and asked the trafficker, “What’s her name?”

The man in charge looked disgusted and replied, “What does it matter? She has no name.”

The clean-cut man turned his saddened, pity-filled eyes to me. Then he walked out of the room.

No one saved me during this time. No one offered me any help. No one said, “Theresa, I feel as if something is wrong. Can I help you?”

Except one person. The most unlikely person reached out to me. A person I normally would have looked down on. A waitress in a dingy, inner-city, 24-hour restaurant.

It was the most horrible night of my life. Normally when I was called “into service,” the same car and driver would pick me up. However on this night, something felt different. While I waited, as usual, at around midnight for the car on the street behind my house, the hairs on my arms rose up and I got a sense of dread. When this happens to most people, perhaps while walking at night or in a parking garage, they can run, scream or call 9-1-1.

I didn’t have that option.

When the familiar car pulled up, I saw there were six men inside instead of the usual single driver. They pulled me into the car and drove me very far from home. We arrived at some dirty, nasty motel in downtown Detroit. I had only seen motels like this on television, never with my own eyes. It was smelly and had broken-down cars in front of the room doors. I was dragged from the car and into one of the rooms. I can’t explain the feeling I had being in a small, musty motel room, the only female and surrounded by two dozen older men. Here I was, now 16 years old, not sure whether I was going to leave here alive. It is a feeling no child should ever have to know.

My trafficker, who had been one of the men in the car, spoke up.

“Gentlemen, here is your reward for a job well done within our organization,” he said, gesturing toward me. “Here is an incentive to others of you. If you work hard enough, this is what you can have.”

That night, I was auctioned off to the highest bidder and passed around the room. Many hours later, after passing out from the torture, I awoke all alone and in pain. I couldn’t find my clothes, and had no shoes, no identification, no money. I had no idea where I was or what I was going to do. I was in a place of the deepest despair that many adults will never even know. And I had nowhere to turn.

The only person who helped me the entire two years of being trafficked was the waitress in the motel’s 24-hour restaurant. On a night where I, as a child, came face-to-face with the devil himself and managed to live through hell, this angel came to me to help deliver me safely to my home. She saw the red flags and noticed this young girl with no shoes and in severe shock who looked out of place.

She simply asked what no one had ever asked me: “Can I help you, honey?”

She offered me a dime to call my parents on the pay phone in the lobby. And when I couldn’t muster the strength to call my parents, most likely subjecting them to a death threat, she called the police, who took me home.

Looking back, I can see all the red flags, all the times people could have suspected something and reached out to help. My nightmare stopped only when another job transfer for my father meant another move for my family. It was a miracle that it happened before the traffickers simply didn’t return me home one night. People have no idea that this is an epidemic problem in our very own country. I have made it my mission to educate others on this issue, to tell them that slavery is alive and in their own backyards.

Yet, people have a difficult time with the word “slavery.” The definition of slavery is when a person has control over another person. If we don’t see the invisible chains and the psychological bondage, we tend not to believe it.

Arrests of teenagers trafficked into prostitution are one example. When a 16-year-old is arrested for prostitution, we need to speak out about this oxymoron. The words “teen” and “prostitute” should never be used together. Ever. What child would ever want to do this voluntarily? By definition, anyone under 18 years of age involved in prostitution is a victim of human trafficking. Yet our society is not protecting the human rights of children when they are routinely arrested and jailed for prostitution. All the while, the “john” is let go. But he is the real perpetrator and a pedophile. Why do we not see this here in our own country?

Approximately 300,000 American children are at risk of being sexually exploited right here in the U.S. And in the time it takes you to read this article, the FBI confirms there are 100,000 American children being sexually trafficked, just as I was. We may think that this is a problem only in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but you might be surprised to learn that the FBI has rescued more children from Ohio who were forced into prostitution than from any other state in the U.S. They have also identified Toledo, Ohio, as the No. 1 recruitment city in the entire United States for this crime.

Unfortunately, once rescued, there are not many options for these children. These young victims need specialized care to address the psychological manipulation that traffickers impose on their minds and therapeutic interventions similar to deprogramming a victim of a cult. Many of these trafficked children are runaway youth who have no other alternatives, no other options. Currently, there are only 39 beds in the entire country to serve American children who have been trafficked. They are located at three residential facilities in Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York City. The problem of trafficking, however, isn’t limited to those cities.

I am involved in opening a new shelter in Ohio that will provide a safe place for a small handful of these young victims. It will offer them a chance to heal and an opportunity to be a kid again. Gracehaven will be a long-term, therapeutic, residential group home that houses 10 girls under the age of 18. It will be not only the fourth shelter opening in the country, but it will also be the first faith-based home. We at Gracehaven believe that a strong spiritual component is essential to the healing process. Mind, body and soul must be treated in order for the person to become fully rehabilitated from this horror. We will offer educational assistance, life skills training, medical care and ongoing counseling. Additionally, Gracehaven is currently training therapeutic foster families to provide another option for a trafficked child, so that when our home is at capacity, there will still be alternatives available to them.

People often ask how I’ve managed to heal. For many years, no one wanted to listen to my story and no one understood. A place like Gracehaven didn’t exist, and I had nowhere to turn, so at some points I stopped trying. But I desperately needed to release the trauma. The only thing I could do was to keep a journal and write. When I was done writing, I shoved it away deep down inside and tried to resume a “normal” life. I tried not to think about it, but it always seeped through as I slept. I became determined to get a counseling degree so I could help save other high school girls, so they would have someone to listen and see the red flags. All I ever wanted was to be a wife, a mother and to help those less fortunate. I refused to let my past control me any further, so for many years I had to heal all on my own. But I really wasn’t healed.

Eventually there came a point where I simply couldn’t ignore the pain and flashbacks any longer. I felt all alone. I had no one to talk to who would understand what I had endured. I tried to find counselors who could help me, but there were none trained in this issue. Things caught up with me, and I felt as if I had no alternative. Just like the girls enduring this today. It was through much prayer and God revealing His purpose for me that I started to finally heal. He brought forward the people from Gracehaven and support from others working in this field. Writing my book for others to read, being a part of something tangible like helping to start Gracehaven, and being able to give hope to others who are where I was so long ago has all helped me to finally heal. All of these things allowed me the vehicle to stop shoving away the pain and the horror, so I could now turn it into a mission called Gracehaven.

I believe that we can stop slavery once and for all. Great people throughout our country’s history have fought hard to eradicate slavery and human bondage, including Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr. I have faith and hope that we can stop this oppression once and for all.

But first we need to acknowledge that it is occurring here and give hope to those trapped by it. Even in the deepest, darkest moments of my past, I never lost my faith and always held on to the hope that the next time would be the last time. These men took everything from me, physically and mentally. But I was determined that they couldn’t take my spirituality away from me. That was all I had, and what enabled me to survive and now be able to turn a hell into hope for others. I had faith and hope back then, and I have faith and hope now that slavery can be stopped. It will take more than just me, though.

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Thirty-seven years later, roomates reconnect

4:11 PM  Sep 22nd, 2010
by Janet Filips ’77

The fleet of golf carts was lined up outside Kennedy Union, the University’s version of limos for alumni not accustomed to hiking the campus during a Dayton summer. We were at the start of Reunion Weekend, and six of us ’70s-era al­ums piled into a cart piloted by a pair of catalog-cute UD students. Bound for Marycrest, skirting a construction zone or two, we tried to get our bearings: Hey, isn’t that where the tennis courts used to be? Is that the ROTC building or photo lab? Is that Founders — or Alumni Hall?

But there was no mistaking the towering, brick wings of Marycrest Residence Complex. More construction blocked the main drive and the parking spots where our parents had helped us unload typewriters, suitcases and stereos an astonishing 37 years earlier. Now, as women in our mid-50s, we headed into the side entrance of this place where we had met, a random collec­tion of freshmen and transfer students assigned to 1 North.

The first days of being away at college are a remarkable time of discovery. And, decades later, our own reunion-within-the-reunion last June was, in its way, equally remarkable. We re­discovered — through sharing fragmented mem­ories — who we had been. We discovered what had become of each other during the intervening years. Most amazingly, we found that, despite all we had done, undergone and learned since leaving campus, we really had not changed. We spoke the same, displayed the same mannerisms and tendencies, approached situations the same way, laughed the same as when we were teenag­ers. That discovery was both eerie and comfort­ing. UD had been paradise, and now in finding each other, we’d reclaimed that place and won­derful time.

HOW IT HAPPENED

If you all loved one another back then, why wouldn’t you now? —Regina McFadden Moran ’75

First of all, we had a blast being back on campus together. We’d hoped for a great time, but many years had passed, and who knew if we’d still click? We hadn’t exactly been sorority sisters after college, sending birthday cards and sharing the small and large moments of life. Af­ter graduation, we had scattered geographically, with me eventually landing the farthest away, in Portland, Ore. There was no Internet, just the post office’s forwarding address service and the UD Alumni Office’s alumni directory — which is only as good as the grads who update their info.

This was a reunion heightened by great mystery. Of the nine of us who gathered at UD in June, I had neither seen nor talked with four of the girls since 1977 or ’78: Doreen Dougherty, Anne Marchetta, Anne Rejent and Kathleen McCarter. (Some of our children are college-aged or older themselves, but we were girls for the reunion.)

We other five had stayed connected only lightly during our post-Flyer days. Jonelle Bindl, Regina McFadden, Lynne Bailie, Linda Lee and I had gotten together twice. In 1983 or ’84, inspired by The Big Chill, we’d spent a weekend in Cincin­nati, where Jonelle lived at the time. And in 1994, Jonelle and Regina pulled together an autumn reunion weekend in Santa Fe, N.M. — attractive simply because none of us had been there before.

Fifteen years passed. Lynne and Regina — ex- New Jerseyites who now live two hours apart in Florida — were inspired by an overnight they’d spent last summer. It was time, they decided, for a reunion, and one that cast a wider net for more of the girls from our corner of Marycrest and our year at 242 College Park.

So last Thanksgiving, Lynne sent an e-mail titled “THIS IS YOUR OFFICIAL INVITATION TO OUR 37TH YEAR OF FRIENDSHIP REUNION!!!!!” She and Regina threw out location ideas ranging from Las Vegas to the Poconos, and they asked for help in finding several other girls from our group.

A couple months and many e-mails later, we’d settled on a nostalgic, budget get-together in Dayton sometime in June 2010. Linda and Kathleen, who live in the Dayton area, jumped in with a hometown welcome. Linda offered to turn her soccer-mom Odyssey van into an airport shuttle. Kathleen set up a Friday dinner at the Oakwood Club and invited everyone to her house for a Sunday afternoon brunch.

Location set, we scoured various sources for finding the missing girls. We started with the UD alumni directory then branched into Face­book, Google, Switchboard.com and the Amer­ican Dietetics Association website. We sent e-mails and made phone calls. Lynne wrote letters. By the time we’d tracked down Anne Rejent in St. Louis and Doreen Dougherty in Goshen, Ky., we could announce that consen­sus had led to the weekend of June 11.

Linda soon reported back: June 11-13 was UD Reunion Weekend.

Hmm, good or bad? It turned out to be a beautiful coincidence, with the campus geared up for company. It was an official reunion year for only Regina, who graduated in 1975. But if you are a Flyer, you are a Flyer. When we all showed up for the tail end of the ’75 class party Friday night, of course we were all welcomed in and offered a beer. A good beer.

WHAT WE DID

I thought it was neat that we could just pick up and con­tinue like we’d seen each other yesterday. It wasn’t weird, it wasn’t awkward, it wasn’t any of those things. It was like we were all just friends. When I think about it, we only spent nine months times three years — 27 months — together. And then we are friends after 33 years. So that to me was pretty amazing.—Lynne Bailie Buehrer ’76

The group of us approached the wide-porched house at 242 College Park a little tenta­tively. Were students living there over the sum­mer? Wouldn’t it be fun to be invited inside? We headed up the front steps of our old home, knocked, tried the bell. Nothing stirred.

We’d been so lucky in the UD lottery to score this house across from the library. It was big, handsome and full of nooks and crannies, in­cluding a cubby shelf on the stairway landing where I’d once tucked an avocado pit, suspend­ed on toothpicks, in an attempt to grow an avo­cado plant. We peeked through a front window: Oh, could that be the same big dining room table where we’d gathered for dinners? We each chipped in about $10 a week, filled Lynne’s VW Thing with groceries from Liberal Market, and took turns cooking and cleaning up.

Our visits to Marycrest and College Park were the pilgrimage part of our reunion. Mi­lano’s was the first stop for the six of us who had arrived by Friday afternoon (no longer a hole-in-the-wall, but a sit-down restaurant), followed by campus. Campus and off-campus were filled with friendly students and an inter­esting mix of buildings and spaces intact from our era and ones we envied, such as ArtStreet and the Fitness and Recreation Complex. (Anne M. and Anne R. tried out the eight-lane pool.) The total effect was part time travel and part, “Wow.”

And wandering through KU, we loved see­ing that in the age of Facebook, the wooden ride board is still matching rides and riders. (Note to President Curran: We know you have lots of renovation plans. But just as the gazebo is sacred, so is the ride board.)

The whole weekend was an amazing chance to reclaim bits of our past that had been lost in the wash of the years. We all had memory gaps and jumbled recollections, and it was awesome to be with a group that could, collectively, fill in the blanks and put things in order. Lynne had packed along her photo album, and those faded snapshots reawakened memories of Hal­loween parties, Homecoming dances (I loved that dress!), concerts and Flyer basketball.

It wasn’t all “Remember when … .” We did a dizzying amount of catching up: over drinks, dinner and brunch; around campus and in the Ghetto; in the hotel lobby, at parties and in our pajamas. We talked about meeting our husbands, and marriage, divorce and re-mar­riage. We opened up about college heartbreaks and pain that had been held private at that time, and we listened with a greater compas­sion and wisdom than we would have at 18 or 20. We talked about creative pursuits, careers and kids. I had to marvel at our little Boomer sample group: All of us were married, all had children or stepchildren, and the major­ity of our group had younger husbands, with the men being junior by as many as 15 years. Kathleen was the only person I would not have recognized. Her curly red hair was now a chic, ultra-short platinum blonde. But her voice was pure McCarter.

And we shared important stories: Regina’s reflections on her brother’s death while she was at UD. The hepatitis C that Doreen acquired through a blood transfusion after she was the victim of a devastating car crash in 1994, and her subsequent intense interest in nutrition to battle the progression of the disease. Anne R.’s gig, for 16 years and counting, as private chef to sportscaster Bob Costas, NBC’s voice of the Olympics. My cautionary tale about breast can­cer screening: while regular mammograms are highly important, so are breast self exams, be­cause some cancers — including the type with which I was diagnosed in 2003 — do not show up well in mammograms or even ultrasounds.

Anne M. had the most dramatic story, about her recent quest to find her birth par­ents. Through a slip-up in the Catholic adop­tion agency’s paperwork, she was able to trace her way to her birth mother, who had been a registered nurse overseas during World War II. Her birth father was a Franciscan priest who had visited military hospitals across Europe during the war. The nurse and the priest had told no one about their baby girl. In her pursuit of her past, Anne found welcoming relatives on both sides of her birth family — and insights into her own nature.

A lot of life had sure happened since the late ’70s.

TOUR DE DAYTON

My oldest daughter got married just before the reunion, and the family into which she married was by hap­penstance a big University of Dayton family. So at the wedding, I talked to a lot of people who were at Dayton or who had graduated recently or graduated a long time ago. And when they were saying how much they love Dayton, I didn’t quite get it — until I went out and saw it again. And then I said, ‘Now I get it.’ —Anne Marchetta ’76

Kennedy Union was buzzing with alumni Saturday afternoon. We registered and picked up nametags in the spot where the candy coun­ter once stood. Thanks to Reunion Weekend, a campus tour and update on student life was delivered to us with cold beverages and snacks — and included department open houses, too. Bottles of water in hand, we joined one of the groups and caught up on renovations and con­struction, the University’s long-range plans for growth (with breathtaking opportunities af­forded by the old NCR property), the big incom­ing freshman class, the internal debate about the ideal size for the student body (total enroll­ment now is about 11,000, with 7,700 under­grads), and the no-keg rule.

And just as the tour passed near the old campus laundry building, who should appear but Father Burns. Norbert Burns, S.M., has taught about one-third of UD alumni in the Christian Marriage class he began in the 1960s, and his “Challenge of Modern-Day Marriage” was a fixture for 25 years on WVUD. He stood for a moment to beam at our group.

A slender, dark-haired man with a Class of ’85 nametag broke from the tour to greet Fa­ther Burns and tell him, one-on-one, about the lasting impact the priest had had on his life. I took a picture of the two of them, and he did the same for me. I don’t recall his name, but I remember his happiness. When I handed him back his camera, he said that that chance to connect with Father Burns had made the whole trip worthwhile.

Those moments of meaningful serendip­ity, I reflected, are among the joys of Reunion Weekend. The principle was like those first days of college: Whether you go out with a group or solo, if you are there, something neat can hap­pen. Take Friday afternoon, when my roomies’ golf cart crossed paths with a minivan — and a woman waving out the window and yelling, “Jan!”

What a kick. It was my old housemate Jan Cherry Stanley ’77, whom I’d lived with senior year with a dif­ferent group of friends at College Park. I made plans to meet Jan and her husband Chris ’75 Saturday afternoon at Mass in the chapel. While I was at the chapel, Anne R. paid a visit to her former English professor Joe Pici and his wife, Anne; a few other roomies headed to Fla­nagan’s Pub for a beer and some World Cup. All very UD.

Fun coincidences popped up all weekend, including the middle-aged man in the lobby of the Marriott whom I had approached Saturday night after the Porch Party. Would he take a picture of us? Noticing that his name tag read “Ken Adams Class of ’70,” I decided to throw out an improbable question: Did he know Lynette Filips — my sister who was also a 1970 grad? “Shorter than you, dark hair, from Cleveland?” he answered. Crazy. Adams had known her from Cleveland Club.

The lobby of the Marriott, in fact, was like a big UD dorm lobby. Throughout the day, eve­ning and deep into the night, the place was a happy intersection for all ages of grads. And if you happened to be there at 3 a.m., you’d find out you can get pizza delivered until 4. Now that’s the mark of a college town.

WISTFUL WALK

UD was so fun. —Doreen Dougherty Carlson ’78

By the time Mass ended late Saturday after­noon, the various department open houses had ended. It was time to get ready for the Porch Party, which was really a big tent with a Mexi­can buffet and a band. But I was craving a quiet time to retrace my younger self’s footsteps. I de­cided to try a couple of buildings’ doors to see if any had been left unlocked.

When I slipped inside Sherman Hall, it felt just like my roommates: the same. The tiled floors, the classic hallways and classrooms, and most of all, the building’s comforting in­stitutional smell — was that born of decades of floor wax and textbooks?

I studied the housing notices posted on bulletin boards and the research summaries hanging in the halls. I poked my head out the back door to see the side steps from Marycrest. I pictured myself hurrying through the halls, surrounded by fellow students — and on more than one occasion, running out that door and up those steps to retrieve a forgotten notebook. On the second floor, I paused to watch the per­petual pendulum swing. It all brought a still­ness to my heart.

THE AFTERMATH

Our getting together was unlike anything I have ever ex­perienced before. Some of us had stayed in touch and some not at all, and it was so cool that we could come together and pick up where we had left off — and open our hearts and our minds to each other. And now we don’t want it to end. —Jonelle Bindl Gilden ’77

Back at home in Kentucky, Doreen got all motivated and launched a Marycrest Mavens blog, where she posted a handful of photos from the reunion and provided a space for keep­ing the conversation going. And indeed that conversation has continued with visits, letters, e-mails and phone calls.

Such as: When Doreen was checking out colleges in St. Louis with her college-bound son later in the summer, she got together with Anne R., who lives in St. Louis. They met each other’s families, talked about partnering on a food enterprise, then — so lucky! — went to the Carole King-James Taylor concert.

When Regina visited family in Chicago in July, she and Jonelle met for lunch. Jonelle, who lives outside Chicago and travels constant­ly, had dinner with Linda in Columbus in late July and with Lynne in Fort Lauderdale soon after. And just before that, Lynne had toured Massachusetts Maritime Academy with her daughter and met up with Anne M., who lives outside Boston.

No one has made it to my side of the coun­try since the reunion, but I arrived home one day to find a box from Doreen and her fledgling business enterprise, WellFarm Food. She’d sent everyone her WellFarm Nutri-pack — the dehy­drated purees she makes from whole fruits and vegetables, mixed in with other goodies such as probiotics and oils. I was in awe as I unwrapped these foods, packaged like a cross between fes­tive party favors and scrapbook art. Cards from both Annes have brightened my stack of ordi­nary mail.

And I was so touched by an e-mail from Anne R. with an idea “which you inspired and in your honor,” she wrote, for declaring the ninth of each month as breast self-exam day. “I thought the ninth because there are nine of us!” How great is that? I followed through on the ninths of August and September.

Doreen has invited everyone to bunk at her farm in 2011, with families invited. Lynne has already signed on for the country weekend. “I plan on taking a day trip up for the reunion party,” she told me on the phone. “I want to see everybody that I remember from 1976.”

And next June, many other returning Flyer alumni will be surprised by campus but be re­minded, as we were: We are UD.

###

Janet Filips ’77, a communication major turned jour­nalist and writer, lives in Portland, Ore. Arnica Press will publish her first book, Luscious: 100 Recipes and Insider Stories from Oregon Growers, Artisans, and Chefs, in December 2010.

<CONTINUED CONVERSATIONS>

REUNION WEEKEND reunion.udayton.edu

MARYCREST MAVENS marycrestmavens2010.wordpress.com

NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE INFORMATION ON BREAST CANCER www.cancer.gov/breast

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How to make a Telefund student’s day

3:57 PM  Sep 22nd, 2010
by Matthew Dewald

Seniors Erica Ventura (left) and Carolyn Teter (right) have talked with literally thousands of alumni since their freshman year. They’re two of approximately 60 students in UD’s Telefund program, calling alumni to ask them to make a gift to UD. Their advice for making their day:

1. Be shocked by your reunion year “I’ve called alumni and said, ‘Oh, I see it’s your 40th reunion year,’” Teter said. “And they’ll say, ‘Oh my gosh.’ They’re astounded. They can’t fathom it.”

2. Tell them you loved beating X They did too. After a win over Xavier, “We hear ‘Go, Flyers’ left and right,” Teter said. “The guys get on the phone and have a field day with it.”

3. Be a Golden Flyer “Their stories crack me up,” Ventura said. “Football was huge. The women lived off campus.” And Golden Flyers are the only ones with stories about meeting their true loves on campus 50+ years ago.

4. Give advice “Alum­ni know what professors and classes to take,” Teter said. “They know it like the back of their hand.”

5. Give a gift Something you might not know: The callers often play games in the calling room, and each gift earns them extra turns and such. It might even help your particular caller score a gift certificate for pizza on Brown Street with a Trivial Pursuit victory. Even more importantly, your love and support of UD’s community deepens theirs.

6. Enjoy the call “We love to just talk,” Ventura said. Teter added, “This is a great job to have. I feel I know so much more about the University. It’s going to be sad to leave.”

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How to make 50,000 Yankees fans happy

3:50 PM  Sep 22nd, 2010
by Michelle Tedford

Mark Pulsfort ’74 oversaw the three-year planning and construction of the new Yankee Stadium, now entertaining its second season of baseball fans. Pulsfort, vice president and deputy operations manager for the New York business unit of Turner Construction, had a special interest in keeping the Bronx Bomb­ers’ fans happy; he’s one of them.

1. Take charge Pulsfort, a lifelong Yankees fan, routinely oversees skyscraper construction. But when Turner’s business unit received the bid proposal for the new Yankee Stadium, Pulsfort advocated for the job, knowing his company could handle the schedule and budget constraints of a project that was still being designed.

2. Coordinate Pulsfort used 3D building information modeling to handle the complexity of the project. After trade subcontractors inputted their work into the model, he developed clash reports — such as identifying where a structural beam bisected a water pipe — and resolved thousands of them to reduce risk in the field.

3. Keep an eye on history Features needed to remind fans of the ball team’s history, including the arch frieze hanging from the interior roofline and Gate 4 main entrance façade of precast limestone and granite. “Knowing the history of the old stadium, what the Yankees represent, the records — now there will be new players and history going forward, and I’m very proud to be part of that.”

4. Make every seat in the house a great one Precast stadia installed by cranes and 50-foot cantilevers hinted at the final layout, which positioned several upper seating bowls closer to the field. Fans have better sightlines, improved concessions and an open concourse to enjoy the game.

5. Savor it At the home opener April 16, 2009, Pulsfort walked into the stands, sat back, and watched both the game and the success of the structure he ushered literally from the ground up. It was his favorite moment of the project: “Opening day, to be in the stadium and have 50,000 fans sitting around you and to know you were part of making this happen, particularly when it was on time and on budget.”

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Apocrypha, Chinese Catholicism and running shoes … Ask a Marianist

3:39 PM  Sep 22nd, 2010
by Father Bert Buby, S.M. ’45

Father Bert Buby, S.M. ’45 professor emeritus of religious studies, is recording a CD series on apocryphal Gospels this fall. It will be released by Now You Know Media in time for Christmas.

How did the four Gospels come to be considered canonical and the others lacking in authority or authenticity (apocryphal)? —Ed Smith, Kettering, Ohio

Predominant leadership in early Christianity really separated itself from anything that seemed to be a threat to what they received from the apostles. Canonical Gospels, in general, are founded on earlier traditions. The apocryphal Gospels — literature ranging from 90 A.D. to 700 A.D. — show us the diversity in some of the outlying communities of Christianity and how they looked at leadership from a different perspective. Soon I will be working on the Gospels of Judas and Mary Magdalene, which are very interesting.

What is the difference between a Marianist and a Jesuit? —Evan Ruggiero ’13, Palantine, Ill.

The main difference is the Marianists emphasize a strong discipleship based on the mother of Jesus. They differ in that brothers and priests are on an equal level of respect, with the priests tending to the sacramental life and the brothers tending especially to the education part of our mission, with both working together for the poor and on social justice issues. Jesuits focus on obedience to the pope and are more individual in their expression of community life.

Why did God require himself (Christ) to die for our sins? —Joseph Bonanno ’72, Manchester Township, N.J.

“God so loved the world that he gave his only son” [John 3:16]. The fact that Jesus became human through his mother, Mary, shows us that someone who was human had to be part of the reconciliation necessary to unite the human and the divine, and Jesus was the one to show us the way. What has not been assumed — our human nature — cannot be redeemed.

What do you think is the future of Catholicism in China and South (even North) Korea? —Robin Smith, Dayton

From listening to the Chinese Catholics here in the United States, it will be a difficult and long journey before Catholics will be able to have the same freedom of expression that they have in Taiwan or southern Korea. Communist authorities control the Catholic expression of faith in public.

When there are significant differences between various English translations of Scriptures, do you encourage students and alumni to select the wording that they like most? —Don Wigal ’55, New York City

As a teacher, I show them what it says from the original language — the Greek, Hebrew — and then have them see which of the new translations seems to capture what was in that original text. There’s a commentary given in four English versions that’s very helpful for students —the Complete Parallel Bible. What they like would be the personal application —Scripture is supposed to have an effect on you.

In a contemporary setting, especially in a place where religion is fading into the background, what role do the church and Mary have to play in society? —William P. Anderson, Lac du Flambeau, Wis.

Dignity of human work, dignity of owning property, dignity of the individual — this is really an area in need because of globalization. The church could really help the whole of society by promoting the compendium on social justice and peace statements in a simpler and clearer format, maybe by making them available at a lower price so more people would read them. And how does Mary fit in? I have a graduate student, Laura Morrison, working on that. She’s looking at Mary as a model of the Catholic social mission through the documents and scriptural passages and applying Catholic social teachings to the life and work of Mary.

My senior year at UD, I had the best possible job — student receptionist at Alumni Hall. One of the sweetest memories I have is when you bought a new pair of running shoes and were so excited that you showed them to me. Father Buby, are you still running? —Anne Muth Orlando ’85, Pittsburgh

I started running in 1970 and was still moving at a slow jog until a few years ago. I am not running because of a hip replacement; however, I do try to run from my superiors.

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Walking in Chaminade’s footsteps

3:28 PM  Sep 22nd, 2010
by Daniel J. Curran, President

When the University of Dayton welcomed the largest, most geographi­cally diverse first-year class since the Vietnam War era, we paused to celebrate the moment.

It is an extraordinary ac­complishment, but not the one by which we measure our true success. We are continually transforming the University of Dayton to meet the needs of today’s students and shape our future.

I posed two big questions to my adminis­trative team at a summer retreat. How do we remain a vibrant, forward-thinking learning community in the Marianist tradition? How do we ensure broader recognition of the value of the educational experience we provide?

We are viewing the challenges in higher education with an inventive spirit — and an eagerness to embrace change and take action. While our retention, graduation and alumni giving rates rank higher than national averag­es, I believe we can do better. We must do better to compete.

We will improve the first-year experience for new students, offer more scholarships and do more to prepare all students to enter and thrive in a rapidly changing world. We will inspire greater numbers of alumni to invest in their alma mater because, having experienced the transformative power of a University of Dayton education, they recognize their important role in our mission. We can reach our aspirations only through greater levels of private support.

In a highly competitive marketplace, we are focused on improving our position nationally and globally. We will boldly communicate our distinctive identity and continue to establish broader domestic and global markets, ensuring that all students feel at home on our welcoming campus. We will assess our programs, abandon outdated ideas, and introduce curricular inno­vations and new technologies at a pace normally not seen in the world of academia.

This is not a new management philoso­phy. The Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Society of Mary, advocated for ongoing, adaptive thinking that responds to world conditions. He called for a clear vision of education and continuous improvement of methods. Our history brims with examples of how we have boldly transformed this campus to meet the needs of the day.

Over the years, we have built a strong cam­pus community that educates students to link learning and scholarship to lives of leadership and service. We have never viewed ourselves as an ivory tower isolated from the urban commu­nity that surrounds us, but as a social force that must be involved in the region to reach our full potential. We have worked to create knowledge in service to the community — and the world.

These are distinctively Catholic, Marianist values that guide our work as educators every day. Our historic mission will not change. It’s as fresh and relevant today as it was 160 years ago.

Chaminade knew how to read the signs of the times and respond boldly with faith and ac­tion. We’re walking in his footsteps.

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Change

2:42 PM  Sep 22nd, 2010
by Matthew Dewald

I wanted to go to new student convocation in RecPlex. Honest. But there was another new student, just down the hill from the chapel, who needed me more.

As President Daniel J. Curran welcomed first-year students and SGA president Jim Saywell told them they’ll know they’re Flyers when they spontaneously yell, “Go UD,” to tour groups of prospective students, I sat on a tiny chair in a classroom at Holy Angels School, kindergarden orientation for my 5-year-old, Gus.

He spent it on the playground outside while we adults talked very seriously of matters like curriculum and shoe-tying, bathroom breaks and bus-riding protocol. Behind the parents’ questions was a mixture of anticipation and anxiety. We each balanced them on the scales of our hearts at this moment of letting go.

Our Marianist principles commit us to education for adaptation and change. Change can prompt reflection, as it did for Janet Filips, who came to campus this summer to visit with housemates from College Park and hallmates from Marycrest, some of whom she hadn’t seen since she walked the line at graduation.

And she peeked in the windows of that College Park house and walked the hallways of Sherman Hall to see what she would feel.

Change can also prompt discovery. To keep his Blue Sky Project growing, Peter Benkendorf opted to uproot himself, his family and his arts program from the Chicago area to the University of Dayton, where his daughter had enrolled. From the move is growing a mutual revelation: what visiting contemporary artists can offer UD and the city of Dayton, and what our insistence on community can offer to usually solitary artists. Both sides have much to gain.

And sometimes change can sneak up in ways as subtle as a tiny footnote in an obscure scientific article. That happened to alum Ed Timm, and as a result he and UD researcher Khalid Lafdi are making strides toward alleviating the suffering of glaucoma patients, a very welcome change indeed. When new worlds open before us, we react to find our place in them and shape what they and we become.

Janet, Peter, Ed and Khalid are doing that, and so are our students at that convocation I missed.

Even as a kindergardener at age 5, Gus is discovering how to shape himself and our world. Over the last month my wife and I are doing the same, uncovering daily the space in our hearts to watch Gus grow in knowledge and love and faith.

And in a community that nurtures that, how can there not also be great hope?

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Song for the ages

1:07 PM  Sep 22nd, 2010
by Michelle Tedford

To breathe life into a relic, inhale deeply and sing.

An intricately embellished 16th-century Spanish antiphonary revealed centuries of liturgical tradi­tion and candle wax as 20 students and their professor surrounded the manuscript and chanted, “Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.”

“I told them how lucky they are to be at a university that allowed such access to such amazing material that is so large that our students can actually touch and sing from,” said Samuel Dorf, a new lecturer in mu­sic and musicology.

When he arrived on campus this fall, Dorf sought out hidden treasures on campus, such as the Zimmerman Col­lection, which includes instruments from around the world. It was then that Roesch Library special collections curator Nicholetta Hary asked if he would like to see the antiphonary.

His exclamation: “That would be awesome.”

Its 240 thick vellum leaves are stained with the oils of centuries of hands turning pages. Measuring more than 15 inches wide and 21 inches high, each leaf contains five staves of black notes on red lines. The words — from psalms, hymns and other parts of the Divine Office — written in Latin in Gothic hand begin with finely decorated initial caps surrounded by swirls and curls in red and blue ink.

In his Music History and Literature I class, students learn about the books and music first transcribed in Europe in the ninth and 10th cen­turies for distribution to abbeys and congrega­tions. As they paged through the antiphonary, students encountered the unmetered notation for chanting developed in the 11th century, no­tation quite different than that common in to­day’s music.

“It was difficult to do together, as the rhythms were very obscure,” said music major Samuel Day.

Still, the students’ ability to sight read was impressive, Dorf said, illustrating both their training and skill and — along with the an­tiphonary — giving him more reasons to feel lucky to be at UD.

“It was a living, musical tradition, and it still is living because we sang from it last week,” he said.

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We are pilgrims

2:05 PM  Sep 3rd, 2007
by Michelle Tedford

We are pilgrims. Eyes hot from too little sleep. Bodies sore from too many foreign beds. And again, we pray. This time on the freeway at 100 kph, rushing past sand dunes made stationary by scrub grass where naked sheep graze.

Each day, a pilgrim leads the prayer. Today, as we head north to France after 16 hours in Zaragoza, Spain, Joe Saliba sways near the bus driver and speaks into the microphone.

“Some say Marianists are reformed Benedictines,” says the dean of engineering, pausing for our labored chuckles. “We really borrow a lot of their virtues and a lot of their habits. The difference is that they are in abbeys and we are in communities.”

He recites Pope John Paul II’s “Prayer to our Lady of Lourdes” — in preparation for the group’s next stop six hours over the Pyrenees mountains — in the style of the Benedictines. Saliba reads. Others share a word or phrase that resonates deeply. And the process repeats.

“It’s an awakening of the words of the scripture,” Saliba says.

One pilgrim offers: Teach us to build up the world.

And another: Glorious Mother.

Dawn of a new era.

Hope.

Paths of the World.

“This morning, for me it was ‘first of the disciples,'” he says.

 

For 10 days in June 2007, we UD pilgrims followed the paths of the Marianist founders through three countries, connecting with the places and spaces that have inspired more than two centuries of education and community action in the spirit of Mary. These pilgrims are Marianist Educational Associates, lay people committed to preserving the heritage and invigorating the spirit of Marianist education. They also may be the future of the University of Dayton.

Gone are the days of a brother in every classroom. Now, it’s hard even to find a priest for every blessing. But thanks to the Blessed Father William Joseph Chaminade, who began the Marianists with his sodality of everyday Christians, the lay and the religious are equal partners in building up society for the glory of God. The 31 vowed Marianists on campus are now complemented by 25 MEAs who have undergone formation training and public commitments. The trip, part of an education to connect them with the order’s founders, allowed them to walk in the footsteps of Chaminade, visit the mission of Mother Marie Thérèse de Lamourous and meet the women who keep the work of Mother Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon alive.

To be sure, it is a costly endeavor for the Society of Mary, which is putting time and resources into people who are not bound to their commitment through anything other than dedication. It’s an investment the society is willing to make.

“The investment is really an investment for a deepening of the Marianist spirit,” said Father Paul Marshall, University rector, who joined eight MEAs, three spouses and this journalist on the trip. “It doesn’t live in ideas first. The forming of the mind, it’s not book knowledge. It’s going to the places, meeting the people. … The Marianist charism lives in people. ”

 

 

Praying where Chaminade prayedIn Bordeaux, France, we walked in the footsteps of Father Chaminade and inadvertently left some of our own in the wet concrete of a city at once old and constantly reinventing itself. If a 300-year-old building needs water, simply rip up the sidewalk, insert the appropriate piping, and cover it over for another hundred years, Saliba pointed out. No fuss, no “wet cement” signs to warn spiritual sightseers.

Dogged pragmatism, a sense of making do while recognizing the future: These are familiar themes to those who know the Marianists. Simply being in the city gave the pilgrims a sense of the old Bordeaux that Chaminade called home from 1789, when the French Revolution drove him from the school where he was teaching, until his death in 1850.

Brother Tim Phillips, S.M., assistant rector of Marianist International Seminary Chaminade in Rome, turned stories once trapped in ink and pulp to flesh and wood as he led the MEAs on a walking tour of the old city. In the Chapel of the Madeleine, he showed pilgrims the door, 6-feet high and rubbed soft by centuries of hands, behind which the first Marianists took their vows in 1817.

“What we’re about is to learn and keep tradition alive,” said Steve Mueller, UD executive director of counseling and health services. “It also stirs some emotion — we’ve read the books, but it doesn’t feel like it does when you step into the Madeleine for the first time.”

The travelers stepped into the dim chapel and inhaled cool, humid air. The 15th century building, which still holds Mass daily and supports a religious and lay Marianist community, seemed to vibrate with an intensity that pricked the skin like electricity. Its cool limestone walls contrasted with the gilded statues of Mary and the angel of the Annunciation purchased by Chaminade. A relic of Chaminade lies within an illuminated altar.

The MEAs felt that same intensity in the bright second-floor apartment where Chaminade worked and died and where Father Paul Marshall said Mass at the worm-worn table on which Chaminade said Mass during the revolution.

“A lot of the letters and documents we have from Father Chaminade would have been written, dictated, thought about in this room,” Phillips said. “You can imagine the conversations they must have had.”

The simplicity of the chapel and the room struck Sandra Yocum Mize, chair of the department of religious studies. The pine floors and blue front door belie the courage needed by the Marianists to re-Christianize French society after the chaos of the revolution. Being in this place underscored the connection UD has with that first Marianist mission to educate the laity and send them out to be forces for change in their own communities, she said.

“There are people who pass by L’Madeleine every day, ride by it on bikes, and have no idea what is going on inside,” she said. “Yet people in Dayton, Ohio, have a real connection to this place. There’s something real important in recognizing the value of the ordinary, in spreading the gospel and in being one contributor to a transformation in society. … What you need is a simple room with a table and people who are gathered together who are committed.”

The simplicity of the other historic locations — the oratory where Chaminade hid priests during the revolution, the Miséricorde where Marie Thérèse welcomed prostitutes and helped them learn trades, the storefront that once served as the first Marianist boarding school, the first house of the Society of Mary — reinforced the Marianist involvement in everyday life.

It also served for a bit of weary humor that sent the tired bunch into hysterics. On a day trip from Bordeaux into Périgueux, where Chaminade’s parents lived, Father Robert Witwicki, S.M., led the pilgrims down a narrow lane. He stopped before a nondescript green door next to another nondescript green door.

“And this is where Chaminade was born,” he said with a flourish.

Looking up, the pilgrims asked, “Which one? 18 or 20.”

“Ah, 18, 20, it doesn’t matter. We say it is here.”

 

 

Marianist Educational Associates“I’ve been looking for you.”

Father Matt Komescher, S.M., sitting on a couch in the admission office, greeted Kathy McEuen Harmon with this phrase as he began their daily chats about Flyer basketball, religion and the scholarship in his mother’s name.

One day he had a new topic of conversation: There’s this program, he said, that you’d be perfect for. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I’ve nominated you.

He knew of Harmon’s longstanding dedication to the University, which she joined in 1992. As associate director of student scholarships, she has daily contact with a special area of the Marianists’ mission: educating the whole person by stretching scarce resources.

The program was the Marianist Educational Associates, lay people educated and working in partnership with the vowed religious to perpetuate the heritage and invigorate the mission of the three Marianist universities: Dayton, St. Mary’s in San Antonio and Chaminade University in Honolulu.

Started in 2004, the MEA program has graduated three cohorts of faculty, staff and administrators from an intensive four-day initial formation program focused on the Marianist and Catholic history, Catholic higher education and the Marianist educational mission. MEAs also complete personal readings and reflections, discuss faith and campus mission in community, are invited to make a public commitment, and join the pilgrimage.  While it was the second year for the pilgrimage, it was the first attended by only those from UD.

The program recognizes both the importance of the laity to Marianist history (“The laity is as much Marianist as the religious,” said Brother Raymond Fitz, S.M.) and the reality the number of vowed Marianists in North America is diminishing.

“As we move into the future, the driving force (at the universities) will remain the Society of Mary, but there will not be such a cadre to animate and sustain the spirit throughout the institutions,” said Fitz who, with Brother Tom Giardino, S.M., teaches the intensive formation program.

Each university embraced the concept and formed it with a flavor unique to the institution’s character and needs. UD rector’s council, intent not to duplicate existing efforts or create an insiders’ club, discussed for a year the idea before taking nominations, like the one from Komescher, and then applications for those willing to accept the responsibility of being an MEA.

Harmon, who is Protestant, appreciates how welcoming the Marianists are to those of all faiths, employees and students alike. So, when she was selected for the second cohort, she drew from Komescher’s faith in her and years in service to the Marianists to answer: “In the spirit of Chaminade, ‘yes.’ In the spirit of Mary, ‘yes.'”

Since the concept of partnership between religious and lay is key, it’s as important to include an admissions counselor as a dean.

“The charism should infuse every aspect of the University, who we are and what we do,” said Father Marshall. “It embraces all areas of academics and growth — nothing is outside the kingdom of God.”

 

 

Vactican City with Michael McAwardThe bones of St. Peter are not in the box.

Brother Michael John McAward, S.M., secretary general of the Marianists at their Rome headquarters, kept the jet-lagged pilgrims moving on the first day of the pilgrimage through St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City with the story of St. Peter, rock of the church, in seven parts. It began with history beneath the colonnade, continued with intrigue at the tomb of St. Peter (the bones are actually 4 feet to the right of the tomb, which bears the inscription that identifies his resting place), and concluded outside with humor (the archeologist who took the bones home in a shoebox for safe keeping).

Michelangelo’s Pietá and the sunlight streaming down on the marble floors provided a striking contrast to the simplicity of the Marianist sites they would see in Bordeaux. But, more than anything, Rome provided a first lesson in the people who inhabit the spaces and places that punctuate an itinerary.

McAward waved his arms as he gave running commentary around the Colosseum, through St. Peter’s and on to the baptistery at St. John Lateran, knowledge that sprang from his love of sharing history, religion and culture. Sister Marie Luce Balliet, F.M.I., who poured sugar in her wine at lunch at the Daughters general administration, told stories of joining the men in the Bordeaux grape harvest as a teenager and of preparing for South American missions at age 70.

“It’s not the places that are interesting, it’s the people,” said Brother Phillips who, with stories rooted in centuries, endeared himself to the MEAs. “It’s at these places you meet the people.”

In Zaragoza, Spain, it was Father Eduardo Benlloch, S.M., who bustled the pilgrims across town for a brief presentation on Our Lady of the Pillar, before which Chaminade prayed while in exile. In Feugarolles, France, it was Patrice and Ghislaine de Bentzmann, who welcomed the MEAs into the historic family home of very great auntie Adèle, founder of the Daughters of Mary.

In Bordeaux, it included Jean Pierre Roumaillac, whose mobile phone rang the theme to Pink Panther. He was the MEAs’ intrepid companion, offering interpretations of history based on his own experience as a lay Marianist.

At OUr Lady of the Pillar in ZaragozaAs he sped past vineyards on the way to Mussidan — where Chaminade and his brother ran a school — Roumaillac announced to the MEAs in his car that it was 3 o’clock, time for the traditional Marianist prayer. Switching from English back to French, he then recited the doxology from memory.

“I found it very touching and felt this connection, this sense that he knew we knew what he was talking about,” Sandra Yocum Mize said. “He said it in French, we say it in English but, in that simple offering of the prayer, we felt a larger connection to the Marianists.”

 

 

The strong, curved, 4-foot-5 frame of Sister Marie Agnes shook with excitement. She rattled on in French, filling the cramped room with words about the ministry of Marie Therese and giving her interpreter no pauses to explain the stories to the American visitors.

“And the story doesn’t end there,” she said after a forced interruption before launching into a story about the secret room where Marie Thèrése and her followers said Mass during the French Revolution. Here, she said, is a small window to the courtyard, so the gardener could signal if the soldiers appeared.

Sisters Marie Agnes and Marie Veronique, both aged more than 80 and more than a century removed from Marie Thèrése, were ecstatic to entertain these visitors from America who traveled so far to hear their stories. While the MEAs were there to learn history — see the shepherd’s cottage original to Marie Thèrése’s family, the embroidery made for her by the repentant women she helped  — they learned that the jubilant spirit that seems so familiar at UD animates people and missions around the world.

At the Hermitage in Le Pian, outside Bordeaux, the sisters run a boarding school for socially disturbed youth. They require love and attention, Marie Veronique said, much the way Marie Thèrése cared for the prostitutes who were seeking reform and reintegration to society. One of her favorite stories is of a Polish order that wrote asking Marie Thèrése to send women to establish a similar ministry in their country. Her reply: send your women here, learn from us, and take a piece of that back with you.

The jubilation was present in Agen, France, where the Daughters of Mary welcomed the MEAs with sweet wine and cakes after a tour of the property, which included Adèle’s grave and a case containing a lock of her hair, a piece of her habit, the cross she wore on her neck.

It also was present at the Daughters of Mary in Rome when Superior General Marie Joëlle Bec, F.M.I., told the story of Adele who, at age 11 in 1801, insisted to the priest she must wait and prepare properly for First Communion. Adèle again insisted, this time in 1816, that Chaminade support her call to form a community of sisters. With great pride, Bec related how Adèle described Chaminade as “working in the masculine branch of our order.”

“Because a family must have a mother and a father,” Bec told her guests in conclusion. “Now, tell me about being an MEA.”

 

 

Dick Ferguson expected his presentation to crash. While he had managed to eliminate 100 photos from his pilgrimage PowerPoint slide show, it still contained 1,100 images. It would take two lunch meetings for him to show them all to his staff at the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community.

Many of his images captured everyday life of the Marianists we visited: simple table settings, beautiful flowers, sparse but comfortable sitting rooms, easy conversation.

Our Lady of Lourdes“There’s something in the simple lifestyle of the European Marianist communities that struck me, ” said Ferguson, Fitz Center executive director. “My life is filled with stuff, both my personal life and my professional life … not just with things, but with projects, presentations, activities. … I’m not sure if it’s a written reflection, a slide presentation or a note to myself, but there’s a lesson somewhere for me and my family, my community, and our university.”

Other MEAs are making plans to incorporate their new knowledge into their work. Beverly Jenkins, associate director of admission, said she can better answer prospective students and parents who ask exactly what her own father asked 30 years ago when she was a UD student: “What do the Marianists mean to you?” While she couldn’t answer her father, she can now articulate their influence to other fathers and mothers.

“I talk with families every day,” she said. “I try to intentionally talk a little more about the Marianists. Parents do want to know what it means to be a Catholic and Marianist university. I haven’t perfected it yet; each time I tell it, it has a little different tone, depending on the families.”

Steve Mueller hopes to share his knowledge with student development employees — who in turn touch all the students — thereby using the Marianist philosophy of learning and sharing to exponentially build understanding.

But just because this is UD doesn’t mean their task is easy. At dinner one night, they talked about the barriers to their work. These include people who see the Marianist influence as nothing more than a friendly hello or a door held open. Others on campus would prefer religion stay in the chapel.

Associate professor Shirley Wright found the MEA formation and pilgrimage personally rewarding and as having tangible benefits to the classroom.

“I see great opportunity for science to be enriched by the Marianist traditions,” she said. “It was an incredible, magnificent experience.”

The MEAs are already making an impact on the University’s path. This year, they joined the vowed Marianists in interviewing candidates for vice president for student development, asking questions related to the University’s mission to find a candidate compatible with the Marianist philosophy of education.

The MEAs have created a strong personal community that has allowed them to probe the role of faith in campus life. This community has also supported each other through illness, professional struggles and uncertainty.

“If this is going to succeed,” Brother Fitz said, “it’s going to be an action of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit has had in mind a lot of surprises.”

One of those has been the MEAs’ willingness to live a life that embodies the Marianist spirit. “There is an amazing depth of commitment and amount of energy people are willing to put into their work,” he said.

And the need for the commitment will only increase. The MEAs will be asked to offer suggestions about how changes in general education could enliven the Marianist goals and contribute to transformational leadership.

They also will be asked to take on additional responsibilities as the number of vowed Marianists decreases.

“There are not going to be clerics to do these things — bless your house, give the opening prayer,” said Joan McGuiness Wagner, director of Marianist strategies in the rector’s office. “If we want those things, we’re going to have to step up.

“Most will say the Marianist part of UD is what they like and what makes us distinctive. If it’s something important, what is each one of us willing to do to keep it going?”

The journey continues, and so pilgrims we remain.

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Cotton glory

9:40 AM  Jun 8th, 2007
by Matthew Dewald

NCAA athletes get scholarships and compete for all-American status; intramural champions get T-shirts out of a storage closet at RecPlex.

At the Prestigious Posse Post-season Potluck, Pooch’s Posse, which has more than its share of championship T-shirts, sat on the front porch of 455 Kiefaber eating hot dogs and drinking Kool-Aid and iced tea. Most had on their Posse T-shirts: navy blue with the team in either white or pink script across the front. Home and away jerseys, they explained. Others wore the pink “Posse love” T-shirts they made when a teammate was diagnosed with leukemia. “Fighting to Win Since 2003,” the back read.

As they sat on the porch at the potluck, they had ahead of them two more days of classes, then finals week, then graduation. About the time they brought out cupcakes and peach cobbler, they started trying to tally their intramural championships.

Freshman year, there was floor hockey, flag football and wallyball (volleyball played on a racquetball court).

Sophomore year, flag football, wallyball, and indoor and outdoor soccer.

Junior year, outdoor soccer and both seasons of flag football.

Senior year, outdoor soccer, flag football, softball and ultimate Frisbee.

Fourteen championships in four years. Fourteen sets of intramural championship T-shirts.

Now, there’s something you should know before you spend too much more time reading this article. Pooch, the team captain, is baffled by the whole idea of an article about Pooch’s Posse.

As she put it one morning in the basement of the library, “I don’t get it. It’s just intramurals.”

And in a narrow sense, she’s right. Even as she went through her last season, Emily Puchala, aka Pooch, aka Capitan, was also finishing classes, studying for finals, wrapping up work at UD’s Business Research Group and going through three rounds of job interviews with a Columbus, Ohio-based corporation.

“We’re just a women’s intramural team,” she said. “We sign up for all the Quarterlysports. There’s not much to tell. We’re simple. That’s all we look for — cotton glory.”

Here’s what cotton glory looks like: Katie Kurtz, aka The Real K. Kurtz, who had never played soccer in her life, scoring off her knee to seal the win in the intramurals game of the week. Betsy Rombach, aka Bizzle, tearing her ACL in the outdoor soccer championships and being carried off the field by her team. Larah Sadar, aka Sadar, letting Pooch finally convince her to play basketball, only to foul out in the first half of a game.

Or, as Mark Hoying, who runs UD’s intramural program, put it, “They have become a dynasty in their four years at UD. I thought it may be of interest to you and the alumni around the country.”

Pooch's PosseUD students play intramurals at very high rates, even when compared with much larger institutions. The University of Kentucky might have had more recent success in intercollegiate basketball, but its 26,000+ students fielded only 170 intramural basketball teams in fall 2006, according to statistics compiled by Hoying’s office. Students at Notre Dame, which has 4,000 more undergraduates than UD, had barely more than 100 fall teams. In the same period, UD students fielded 233 intramural basketball teams. Students also fielded hundreds of teams in men’s, women’s and co-ed recreational and competitive leagues in other sports.

Hoying clearly remembers the first time he met Pooch. It was fall 2003, and he was a senior working in the PAC when Pooch, a freshman, walked through the door.

“She was very much in charge. She had questions, and she wanted answers,” he said.

What she wanted was permission to be captain of two different women’s volleyball teams. At the time, UD had trouble attracting more than two or three teams, and forfeits were common.

Why weren’t there more women’s teams, Pooch wanted to know. Why didn’t Hoying call people and get more teams?

He didn’t like her at all.

“She was basically telling us what we should be doing,” he said. “The irony is that they were Pooch’s Posse then, and they’re Pooch’s Posse now.”
After graduation, Hoying took a position in campus recreation as a graduate assistant and then was hired on as assistant director for intramurals and club sports. Pooch has been with him the whole time.

At an appreciation night he hosted for the Posse in January, he told three stories. One was about his first meeting with Pooch. Another was about Kurtz’s goal during the game of the week. The third was that “Pooch” had transcended Puchala and become a general-purpose noun in his office, as in, “Do you know so-and-so? He’s captain of four teams and always gets his players to games so there’s no forfeits.”

“Oh, he’s their Pooch.”

There would be no Pooch without the Posse, which is 30 strong. They have majors throughout the University: civil engineering, Spanish, finance, biology, marketing, women’s studies, geology, English and others. To be a Posse member, you don’t have to be athletically gifted, but you do have to want to play. The team stopped taking new players early in its junior year. All are seniors. Many play just one sport for Posse, but a core group of almost a dozen tries to play every sport offered.

Pooch's Posse“I feel like a bully sometimes,” Pooch said. “I make them do things they don’t want to do. I do it because I want to play.”

Puchala can’t be absolutely everywhere, so she sometimes appoints a Pooch-in-lieu to organize games and captain the team. Generally that’s Stephanie Sheavly, aka Malhechora, Pooch’s housemate on Kiefaber. When Steph is also tied up, they appoint a Pooch-in-lieu-in-lieu, usually Meredith Effler, also a housemate. Effler, aka Mere, was also appointed the Prestigious Posse Post-season Potluck Planner. Her job was to avoid a flood of desserts, a problem at the Prestigious Posse Pre-season Potluck.

Their fourth housemate is Tara Hentgen, aka Benchwarmer, a sprinter and jumper on the women’s track and field team. Team rules prohibit her from playing intramurals, so she helps manage the sidelines.

“The Posse is not just intramurals, it’s a lifestyle,” Steph said. She met Pooch in Spanish class freshman year. Pooch saw her soccer gear and bugged her into joining the Posse.

What’s the lifestyle?

“We all have high expectations of each other. We’re all good students, and we’re all involved in service. And we dominate,” said Mere, who lived up the hall from Steph freshman year in 3 South Marycrest. When she told Steph they should be friends, Steph asked her to write a “letter of acceptance,” and she did.

It’s not hard to find examples of Posse members active on campus. Accounting major Diana Hemkens, aka Hempkens, is president of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Betsy is lead peer adviser for the School of Business Administration. Devee Sresthadatta, aka Hobbs, is an officer in campus ministry. Danielle Ermis, aka Ermis, is worksite coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. Steph and Mere are two-term co-presidents of the Dakota Center Club. Hentgen is one of 15 students at the Davis Center for Portfolio Management who manage more than $6 million of UD’s endowment. The examples go on and on.

“I look around campus, and Posse members are leaders everywhere,” said Pooch. “I’m proud to hang out with these people because they do so much. I go everywhere and I think, ‘Yeah, she’s Posse.’”

Other students on campus know about the Posse. Jill Gelhfuss, a junior, declined to join it. It was her freshman year, and she figured that being on three teams was enough for her. By the time she realized what she’d passed up, the Posse had stopped taking new members.

Three years later, Gehlfuss still regrets turning Pooch down.

“When I think of intramurals, I think of them,” she said. “It’s going to be different on the field next year. Maybe we’ll have a chance to win a championship.”

Pooch is quick to say she’s not the most gifted athlete. “What I’m good at is typing names into the ‘To:’ box in e-mail, getting people out to games,” she said. There’s also a Posse spirit of good sportsmanship and goofiness during games that most people mention when they talk about the Posse. They don’t forfeit, they don’t show up opponents and they don’t complain about referees’ calls. They cheer good plays on either side and shake hands after every game. Flag football opponents have been known to be intimidated by their halftime pep rallies.

Greg Raffio, a master’s student in mechanical engineering, has played with Posse members on a co-ed ultimate team called Manamanah. (It’s a Muppets reference; you can look up on Google video.) Pooch and the Posse, he said, “embody all those cliché UD catchwords: community, leadership, service. She’s the most wired Catholic university in the country.

“Pooch should have an award named after her. How many people on campus don’t know who she is?”

“I’m pretty sure between her and her roommates, they know every single person on campus,” said Grace Finn, who played in UD’s first-ever women’s dodgeball tournament. Pooch, Mere and Steph organized it as part of Women’s Week in March. The tournament drew more than 100 players and raised money for the Noble Circle Project, which supports women diagnosed with breast cancer.

“(Their house) is the picture-perfect look at community at UD. They are amazing friends, they motivate each other and have practically become sisters,” Finn said. “If Pooch is asking you to do something, you know it’s a good thing.”

Pooch's PosseAccolades are nice, but so are those championship T-shirts. As the calendar turned to April, the Posse headed into its last season and last playoffs, indoor soccer. They won their first game handily, beating the Pretty Pink Piranhas 6-1. After the game, they debriefed.

“We have to practice the give-n-go,” said Steph. “No one else except us understands it.”

After just a few minutes, they turned to planning the Prestigious Posse Post-season Potluck.

Three days later, about 10 Posse players were back at RecPlex for their last intramural games together: the women’s indoor soccer semifinals at 9:20 p.m. and, if they won, the finals at 10 p.m. Games were 3-on-3, plus goalies. Teams could substitute as much as they wanted.

Their first opponent was the Beckhams, a group of freshmen from 2 Adele in Stuart Hall. Pooch started in goal, Keely Midden, aka Keeeeeee, started on defense, and Steph and Lauren Locy, aka, Locy, were forwards. Posse had five subs available: Mere, Devee, Betsy, Carly Brink (aka Brink) and Chrissy Jennings (aka The Law). Ermis would arrive a half hour later.

Twenty seconds after the opening touch, Posse was already down by a goal. Steph evened it up at 1-1, but Beckham kept getting one-on-one chances on Pooch. By halftime, Posse were down 3-1.

Thirteen seconds into the second half, a goal by Betsy pulled Posse within 1. With 5:40 to go, a booming shot by Steph ricocheted off the goalie, and Keely put it away to tie the score.

Then Steph took over. Easily the best soccer player on the Posse, she was goalie on a club team that won a state championship. Recurring concussions kept her from playing in college.

“Her doctor told her another concussion could kill her,” said Pooch. “It adds a little bit of an edge to our games.”

With 4:43 to go, Steph dribbled through three Beckhams and put the Posse up 4-3. A minute later, she scored on a one-on-one against the goalie. Late goals by Devee, Mere and Locy put the Posse up by four goals with less than two minutes to go. They won by mercy rule.

Win or lose, the final would be the Posse’s last game together in college. They faced Striker, who had advanced through the semis on a forfeit. Striker had no subs, but they did have matching blue T-shirts. They were freshmen.

Fourteen seconds in, Devee put the Posse up by a goal, but Striker scored the next four goals on two different Posse goalies.

Down 4-2 at the start of the second half, Posse started Steph in goal, Ermis on defense and Betsy and Janelle Hayes, aka Yahnel, on offense but couldn’t get anything going.

Despite several great saves by Steph, Posse trailed 7-2 with eight minutes to go.

At 5:45, Posse caught a break it didn’t want. A referee called a rarely enforced safety regulation on one of the Strikers. She would have to sit out for five minutes for wearing a necklace during the game. With no subs, Striker was down a player. Posse would end the game on the equivalent of an NHL power play.

In the next three minutes, Devee scored two goals and Betsy one to pull the Posse to 7-5 with more than two minutes remaining.

That turned out to be the final score.

After the game, the Posse walked over to BW3s on Brown Street.

They talked only a little about the game.

“We didn’t want to win on a jewelry call,” Betsy said.

Mere talked about helping out at her family’s jewelry store at Christmas time. Pooch told a story about being in Spain on a study abroad trip and not knowing what the appliances in the kitchen were.

“It took me four days to realize I was putting dishes in the washing machine,” she joked.

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 10.40.55 AMMostly, they talked about the future. Ermis, a civil engineering major, had gotten roped into helping teach the survey course in the first summer term. Janelle thought she might be going to France to teach Spanish. Devee planned to work as an au pair in Melbourne, Australia, for a year before starting a doctoral program in physical therapy in Chicago. Steph and Kurtz were headed to graduate social work programs at the University of Chicago and Case Western Reserve, respectively. Sadar, a biology major, would become a whitewater raft guide on the New and Gauley rivers in West Virginia. Betsy was off to New York City for a job as analyst with BlackRock. Hentgen, their benchwarmer, would finish up her undergraduate finance and MBA degrees. Pooch, a marketing and Spanish major, was still waiting to hear back from her job interviews. Mere wasn’t sure what was next for her.

Pooch’s Posse appeared on almost none of their résumés. When it was there, it was generally a short line under a heading along the lines of “Other activities.”
At the beginning of their last semester, a few Posse members had tallied up their intramural careers.

They counted more than 230 games in which Pooch’s Posse competed, a rate of nearly 2.4 a week for every week intramurals were offered. Most also played on different teams in co-ed leagues, on top of everything else they did on campus and off.

Graduation “is going to be weird,” said Steph. “I’m having a hard time imagining life without intramurals. I get excited about the next step. We talk about how Posse is going to go international. We’ll definitely have reunions. We might continue it through our kids.”

Then she added, “It feels weird to say that.”

A week before classes ended, Pooch was feeling overwhelmed.

“Everything has always been mapped out, and now it’s just wide open,” she said. “In a week’s time, I have to finish my college career, plus there’s all the Posse stuff. I have to pack my stuff and find a house. I don’t know if I have a job. Of course, I don’t really want to do any of it except hang out with my friends. I’m not fully accepting it’s going to be different.”

Her original plan for the Posse was to create a dynasty that would be passed from class to class.

“It just didn’t happen, but colleges always turn over. It’s just the nature of the institution. Posse isn’t the focus of any of our lives. It’s a side thing we do.”

She said one of her proudest Posse moments was freshman year. “We got every girl who played a championship T-shirt. They don’t hand out too many of those, the cotton glory.”

One morning on Kiefaber, Steph, Hentgen and Mere sat on the couch eating frozen waffles. They watched their pet hamster, Lady Leon Spinks, rolling around the living room in a plastic ball.

“We just wanted to be a legend that dominated,” Mere said.

“We played to have fun,” Hentgen added.

“And,” said Steph, “we just happened to kick ass while we did it.”

 

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