The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Calling all priests

Mark Rolfes | Monday, November 2, 2009

“Loyal Daughters and Sons” will be performed this week (Wed.-Fri.) at the Library Auditorium, and I highly encourage all in the community to go see it, to raise awareness of the very important issue of sexual harassment and violence both on our campus and in our society. I saw this performance last year, and it made a huge impact on me, as an alum, father of a current Notre Dame female student, and as a man in general. The method of presenting this topic makes a deep impact that can not be matched by simply reading about this subject.

I especially call upon all Notre Dame priests to come see this performance. Priests counsel students on a wide range of issues, however, women who are victims of sexual harassment/violence often hold their pain inside. When they do seek counseling, due to the nature of the incident, they more often than not seek out female counselors rather than male counselors.

After the performance, there is a panel-led discussion. When it was my turn to ask a question, I said I was shocked at how prevalent these incidents seem to be, even at our beloved Notre Dame, which some alums (such as myself) mistakenly think is immune to this type of behavior. I then asked: “Do the priests ever discuss this issue at the homilies during Sunday Mass in the dorms?” No one on the panel or the audience could ever recall this being the subject of a homily. This may be because priests are not as aware of this topic as they need to be. Thus, I encourage the priests of Notre Dame to attend this performance, and find a way to work this topic into their homilies in the dorm Masses.

Just before Fr. Malloy left office, he made a statement that I found somewhat controversial. He said, “I have been President for 18 years, and I was proud to be President every one of those days, except for one — the day Notre Dame fired Ty Willingham.” While that incident may have deserved critique, I was still proud to be part of Notre Dame on that day. I was still proud to be part of Notre Dame when we lost to Navy and Syracuse. If I were a Notre Dame priest, the days I would not be proud would be the ones when another of these incidents comes to the ResLife office. On those days, none of us should be proud, for we all have failed to set the moral compass of those students who commit these offenses. The failure comes primarily from the offenders, but also partially from all of us (parents, rectors, priests, peer students) who did not provide strong enough moral leadership to let every student know that such offenses are completely unacceptable.

The “Loyal Daughters and Sons” performance puts this important topic out into the public forum in a unique and very compelling way. I encourage all (especially the priests) to attend and increase your awareness of this very important issue.

Mark Rolfes
class of 1984
Nov. 2