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Memoir tells story of a leader’s life

Amanda Gray | Thursday, September 1, 2011

With a lifetime of stories, University President Emeritus Fr. Edward “Monk” Malloy said he had an obligation to write them down.

“Anyone in a leadership position has an obligation to leave some account of his or her leadership,” he said.

The second volume of Malloy’s three-volume memoir, “Monk’s Tale: Way Stations on the Journey,” was published this month by the University of Notre Dame Press, according to a University press release.

This volume focuses on Malloy’s time spent at the University from 1974 to 1986, the years preceding his tenure as president.

“Monk Malloy’s candid and revealing book could well be titled ‘The Making of A Catholic College President,'” Columbia University’s Joseph Califano, Jr. said in a review. “It is a moving story of Monk’s personal growth from priest and professor to president of Notre Dame.

“Along the way, Monk provides a rare inside look at Catholic higher education in America and its bruising battles with the Vatican over the meaning of Catholic identity in our pluralistic society,” he said. “It’s a story that makes you proud to be a Catholic.”

The positive feedback and reviews are gratifying, Malloy said.

“I never set out to write a New York Times bestseller,” he said. “I meant to tell my story.”

The book, though not yet a bestseller, begins to tell its story with the cover image. A younger Malloy, basketball mid-dribble, plays on the basketball courts that used to be behind Walsh Hall during “Monk’s Hoops,” a regular, informal basketball game he held throughout his time as professor and president.

“I look a lot younger then than I do now,” he said with a laugh. “The editors wanted this picture because it captures a bit of my years. I could have a picture of me in the classroom, or some big meeting, but they thought this was representative of the spirit of the book.”

Malloy said this volume progresses chronologically, like the first volume, but sometimes breaks out of the chronology to talk about a specific subject, like his time spent living in Sorin College or his time in external projects, such as Ex Corde Ecclesiae, an apostolic constitution for Catholic universities penned by Pope John Paul II.

“When you’re reliving your life, you see the friendships, the decisive processes that led you down one path,” he said. “For example, one of the main reasons I added the external activities to this volume is so I could focus the entirety of volume three on my time as president.”

The next volume will be ready in about two years, Malloy said.

“The first two volumes are paving the way for the third,” he said. “The motivation for the project always was to share a bit of my perspective on my years at Notre Dame.”

Malloy said his favorite part of this volume is his chapter on Sorin College.

“I had a lot of material to work with,” he said.

Malloy just celebrated his 32nd year living in the dorm.

“It’s a mix of moving, personal and fun stories,” he said. “It is part of the allure of the residential tradition of Notre Dame.”

Malloy said this portion of his memoir fits well with another work written about residential life — former Sorin College Rector Fr. James King’s book, “Known By Name: Inside the Halls of Notre Dame,” which tells similar tales of residence life on campus.

“In a sense, what I did was complimentary to his book,” he said.

Malloy said some sections, such as the residence life chapter, would speak to everyone, while others will attract a very specific reader.

“All autobiography is an opportunity for someone to share his or her life,” he said.

“I’m teaching a course this semester on autobiography and biography that I’ve taught many years as a First Year Seminar. They all have to write their biography. Essentially, I’m doing the same thing.”