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A caddie, a plumber, and a priest

Jimmy Dunne | Thursday, October 31, 2013

I have a friend named Rick who is the caddie master at Seminole Golf Club in Florida. He is a huge University of Oklahoma fan. For a long time, he and I talked about going to the ND-OU game together and we made it happen. Well, we all know that OU won, but what started as an occasion for ribbing, chiding and the liberal use of bragging rights turned into a lesson in humility, friendship and class.
Here is the backstory: Rick and his friend – who happens to be a plumber and an equally staunch Sooners fan – and I all headed to Notre Dame for the game. We visited practice at the stadium on Friday, went to the pep rally, toured the campus and generally had a grand old time.
Unbeknownst to my OU friends, I had two sets of tickets – my usual seats behind the Irish bench and another set far away. I wanted options because there was no way I was going to sit behind the Irish team with folks decked out in Oklahoma gear. Come game day, however, my friends showed up in classic blue and gold. I was impressed. Two fierce OU fans came to Notre Dame and embraced our school. That is classy.
On the way home, while reliving the highlights of the weekend, my friends mentioned that they picked up something “precious” at the bookstore – a rosary – that was intended as a present for an 85-year old friend. They proceeded to the Grotto to say a prayer. Once there, they engaged in a conversation with a priest and asked him to bless the rosary. The priest told them he was “absolutely delighted to do it.” I wondered aloud who the priest was and, much to my surprise, they recalled his name. They said it was [University President Fr.] John Jenkins. Stunned, I asked if they knew that he is the President of the University. They did not.
To them, he was a kind, welcoming, charming man of God who gave them a special gift in blessing such an important item. To me, Father John represented the spirit of our school. He epitomized grace and class, and I was beyond proud that my friends received such a lovely reception, not only from the Notre Dame community, but also from the very head of the University.
Do not get me wrong: I wish we won the game, but the weekend was a “win” in my book. Thank you, Notre Dame, for giving me ample opportunity to experience triumph both on and off the football field.
Go Irish!

Jimmy Dunne
Class of 1978