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Malloy’s exeriences told in Malloys Travels

Becca Saunders | Thursday, November 11, 2004

University President Father Edward “Monk” Malloy is a well-known figure to virtually all Notre Dame students. Although actual contact with him is generally rare for the average student, any student knows enough about Malloy to get a reasonably extensive impression of him. However, their knowledge usually ends after his characteristically slow manner of talking is discussed. The opportunity to understand Malloy as a person, not just as a tall president, presents itself in Malloy’s latest book “Monk’s Travels.” Malloy provides insight into his life, character and opinions throughout the book, which is composed of edited journal entries describing his experiences abroad, at Notre Dame and with some prominent people. While the book on a whole is not entirely captivating, it is an interesting travel narrative spotted with some of Malloy’s personal opinions and experiences. “Monk’s Travels” is exactly what one would guess it to be from the title – a travel narrative outlining Malloy’s specific experiences. Most of the book is taken directly from the journal Malloy kept as he traveled around the world. This covers the bulk of the content of the book, but the actual book begins with Malloy’s account of the activities at Notre Dame surrounding the attack on Sept. 11. From the campus-wide Mass to the firefighters from New York being honored at the U2 concert on campus that happened soon after 9/11, Malloy’s thoughts and feelings are revealed. The book ends with “Snapshots” describing Malloy’s encounters with various famous people of the world including Pope John Paul II, former President George Bush, current President George W. Bush, Martin Luther King Jr. and even Donald Trump. Saving the best for last seems to be the case in deciding to end with the “Snapshots” as they are the most interesting and entertaining portion of the novel. The “Snapshots” provide an insight into Malloy’s character and personality, as well as showing the prominence of his position as the president of the University of Notre Dame. The actual travels of Malloy cover almost the entire world. The entries are divided into sections by continent and include Europe, the Mediterranean Region, Eastern Europe, Latin America, South America, Africa, Down Under and the Far East. Some of the most interesting accounts revolve around Malloy’s trip to the Holy Land. Beyond descriptions of the scenery, Malloy also covers the history of the region and the sentiments of the region at the time of his visits. Malloy recounts a particular conversation with a Christian Palestinian woman from Ramallah in the West Bank. “She spoke of her disappointment that so few of the 800,000 Christian tourists each year make any effort to learn about the local Christian communities,” Malloy writes, “and she expressed fears that the sacred Christian shrines in the Holy Land could become museums instead of places of active worship if the Arab Christian population is not supported.” Malloy’s opinions regarding the area are intriguing and interesting because he is an educated man in both faith and history, and his opinions are generally very well-founded and rather objective. His unique perspective is made more apparent in his description of his visits to Rome. While Malloy shows a great respect for the Vatican , he is not above criticizing some of the smaller aspects of the Vatican itself. Malloy reveals, “I must admit that, other than the fundamental sense of loyalty I feel as a Roman Catholic and a priest, I am not attracted to the Vatican scene. Much of the pomp and formalism I find off-putting, and I am hardly unique in these feelings.” He continues on the greater state of the Church saying that although the men of the Vatican are generally good men of prayer, “Yet I wish that the broader church community would have more of an impact on the Vatican as a bureaucracy, and I wish more of those chosen for jobs at the Vatican had spent more time away from Rome, in the local church more than in the diplomatic corps. I also wish there were more women and married people entrusted with major leadership responsibility.” These are large opinions, but appropriate for a man of such great character. As an overall read, “Monk’s Travels” is less than thrilling. For people interested in learning more about the man behind the institution of Notre Dame, however, the book is a great choice. With anecdotes about getting moved to the end of his row in the Vatican due to his great height to moving a couch with President Bush in the locker room of the JACC, Malloy’s general character is seen in a way that most Notre Dame students never get to personally experience. While the content of the book is generally less than gripping, it is well-written, and for people interested in the regions of the world Malloy discusses or Malloy himself, “Monk’s Travels” is well worth the read.