Oral Histories Collection
Scope and Contents
Oral history interviews conducted under the auspices of the University of Notre Dame Archives, including audio recordings and transcriptions of interviews on Catholic Action and Social Justice; the National Catholic Reporter; and Notre Dame faculty, staff, and students. Governed by agreements with the people interviewed, some of these are open for use and some closed or restricted.
- Creation: 1972-2000
Language of Materials
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Permission to publish or publicly disseminate reproductions of any material obtained from the University Archives must be secured from the University Archives and any additional copyright owners prior to such use. Please see Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use of Material for additional information.
Biographical / Historical
ALTER, KARL J.
Karl J. Alter was born in Toledo, Ohio, on August 18,1885. His parents were John and Elizabeth Alter. He was educated at St. John's College in Toledo and St. Mary's Seminary in Cleveland. He was ordained a priest for the Toledo diocese in 1910.
After serving in two parishes, Alter was appointed the first director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Toledo in 1914. In 1929, he succeeded Fr. William Kerby as director of the School of Social Service at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
On June 17, 1931, Alter became Bishop of Toledo. He became very active in the social action department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, the predecessor of today's U.S. Catholic Conference. He was principal author of the 1940 pastoral letter "The Church and Social Order", in which it was suggested that organized labor, management, and government should together regulate industry for mutual benefit. The letter called for a greater portion of profits and a voice in decision-making for labor.
In 1942, Bishop Alter joined the Administrative Board of the NCWC. He was to remain a member of the board until 1966, and served in a variety of offices. He served two terms as vice- chairman (1950-52, 1956-58), two terms as chairman (1952-55, 1958-62), and one term as secretary (1962-66).
On June 21, 1950, Alter became Archbishop of Cincinnati. Under his administration the archdiocese instituted a priests' senate, an archdiocesan school board composed of lay members, and encouraged the formation of parish councils. Also noteworthy is Project Commitment, an adult education program intended to combat racism.
As chairman of the NCWC, Archbishop Alter issued a protest against religious and racial bigotry on June 25, 1960. He also wrote a pastoral for the Cincinnati archdiocese on racial justice in July 1963, a month before the NCWC issued its own statement on the same subject.
Archbishop Alter served on the central preparatory commission for the Second Vatican Council and attended all council sessions. He was a member of the conciliar commission for bishops and the government of dioceses from 1962 to 1965. He retired as Archbishop of Cincinnati on July 23, 1969, and died on August 23, 1977.
Archbishop Alter received honorary degrees from Notre Dame, Miami University (Ohio), Dayton University, and Catholic University. A collection of his writings was published in 1960 under the title "The Mind of an Archbishop".
BRENNAN, FRANK E.
Frank E. Brennan was born in St. Louis, about 1922. He began studies at St. Louis University in 1940 which were interrupted by his service in the Second World War. He completed his liberal arts degree in 1948, and earned a law degree in 1949. He practiced law in Houston and St. Louis briefly, and then served in the Korean War. After his discharge, he joined the New England Life Insurance Company and worked in St. Louis until 1958. He was then transferred to Kansas City, Missouri, as general agent.
In Kansas City, Brennan joined a discussion group that included John Fallon and Michael Greene, the managing editor of the diocesan newspaper "Catholic Reporter". In 1964, Fallon and Greene decided to form a national Catholic newspaper, and Fallon suggested that Brennan handle the initial fundraising. Brennan organized a fundraising dinner that took in over $10,000, and the group secured the support of Bishop Charles Helmsing. The first issue of the new "National Catholic Reporter" was published on October 28, 1964. Brennan served on the paper's Board of Directors from its inception until the mid-1970s. Brennan was elected to the City Council in 1967 and served until 1971.
BYRNE, JOHN E.
John E. Byrne was ordained a priest of the New York archdiocese in 1942. After one year at St. Bernard Church in White Plains, N.Y., he joined the faculty of Cathedral College in New York City as an English instructor. He was a colleague of Fr. (later Monsignor) Thomas Darby and like Darby was an instructor in New York area labor schools during the 1940s and 1950s.
In 1950, Fr. Byrne was transferred to Corpus Christi parish in New York City as assistant pastor. He served there until c. 1969, and then became pastor of St. Athanasius parish. In 1975, he became pastor of Annunciation parish in Crestwood, N.Y. In 1980, he became director of the Pope John Paul II Residence for retired priests in New York City. He died on December 16, 1984.
Fr. Byrne was a native of Salt Lake City, but his family lived in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois at various times in his childhood. He graduated from Iona College circa 1934.
CORT, JOHN C.
Journalist and freelance writer John C. Cort was born in Woodmere, New York, on December 3, 1913, the son of Ambrose and Lydia (Painter) Cort. After completing his secondary education at the Taft School in Connecticut, Cort entered Harvard University in 1930. He majored in history and literature. Raised an Episcopalian, Cort decided to convert to Catholicism while an undergraduate, but put off his formal reception into the Church until after his graduation because of family opposition. Cort graduated cum laude in 1935, and took a job as a reporter with the Brookline "Citizen". He remained in this position for approximately one year. He left Brookline to join Dorothy Day's Catholic Worker movement, having been profoundly influenced by a public lecture given by Day.
After a brief stay at a farm commune, Cort moved to New York City and worked on the "Catholic Worker" newspaper. He also taught at Catholic Worker labor schools, and helped to found the New York chapter of the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists. In 1937, Cort contracted tuberculosis and was forced to sharply curtail his activities. For the next twelve years, the disease would periodically disable him, although he managed to write occasionally for "Commonweal" and also worked as associate editor for the "Labor Leader" newspaper. In August 1946, Cort married Helen Haye of Baldwinsville, New York.
In 1950, Cort moved to Boston and became executive secretary of the Boston Newspaper Guild. He stayed in this job until 1962, when he joined the Peace Corps. After his 2 1/2 year stint in the Peace Corps, he worked in various social service jobs in the state of Massachusetts for approximately the next decade. In 1988, Cort published a book entitled "Christian Socialism", in which he expounds upon a doctrine of socialism based on religious rather than Marxist principles.
CRONIN, JOHN F.
John F. Cronin was born on October 8, 1908, in Glen Falls, New York. His parents were Bernard and Nora Cronin. He was educated at St. Mary's Academy, Holy Cross College, and the Catholic University of America. He earned several degrees at Catholic University: a B.A. in 1927, an M.A. in 1928, an S.T.B. in 1932, and a Ph.D. in 1935. He was ordained a priest of the Sulpician order on May 21, 1932.
Fr. Cronin taught economics at St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore from 1933 to 1946. Economics had recently been added to the seminary's curriculum for candidates for the priesthood. He was also active in labor organization in Baltimore, particularly in the steel and shipbuilding industries. In 1941, he began to teach summer courses at Catholic University and directed its Institute of Catholic Social Studies.
In 1946, Fr. Cronin joined the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference as assistant director. With the NCWC, Cronin worked closely with the labor movement. Now concerned with alleged Communist infiltration of labor unions, Cronin cooperated with the FBI, passing to the FBI what information he collected from his labor union contacts. In return, Cronin obtained access to FBI files and so gained information regarding the perceived Communist threat for use of the NCWC. In 1947, Fr. Cronin met Rep. Richard Nixon, a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Cronin passed material regarding the Alger Hiss spy case to Nixon, who may very well have launched his national political career by his performance in the committee hearings. This was the beginning of a long association with Nixon.
When Nixon was elected Vice President under Eisenhower, Fr. Cronin became a principal speechwriter for him. This was not an official appointment, rather, Cronin wrote for Nixon on his own time and continued to work for the NCWC. Cronin wrote Nixon's acceptance of the Republican nomination for reelection as Vice President in 1956, and expected to assist with Nixon's 1960 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. However, the Nixon campaign did not request his services and he did not write for Nixon again. Cronin continued to correspond with Nixon, and was invited to various White House functions during the Nixon presidency (1969-1974).
About 1958, the NCWC began to actively participate in the civil rights movement. Cronin wrote a 1958 race relations statement for the NCWC and testified at congressional hearings regarding the proposed Civil Rights Act along with Protestant and Jewish clergy in July 1963. Cronin and other NCWC leaders actively lobbied government officials such as Attorney General Robert Kennedy. In June 1964. Fr. Cronin addressed a meeting celebrating the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
Fr. Cronin left the NCWC in 1967 and returned to St. Mary's Seminary as professor of Christian ethics. He retired in 1977, and currently resides at St. Charles Villa in Baltimore. He authored several books based mainly on the courses he taught. These are: "Economics and Society" (1939), "Economic Analysis and Problems" (1943), "Catholic Social Action" (1948), "Catholic Social Principles" (1950), "Problems and Opportunities in a Democracy" (1954), "Social Principles and Economic Life" (1964), "The Catholic as Citizen" (1963), "Christianity and Social Progress" (1965), and "Government in Freedom" (1965). He was honored with a papal Benemerenti Medal in 1957. He conducted a special study of Communism for the NCWC in 1945, and published "Communism: Threat to Freedom" in 1962.
DARBY, THOMAS J.
Thomas J. Darby graduated from St. John's College in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1928. He had previously attended Cathedral High School in Manhattan. He was ordained a priest of the New York archdiocese in 1933. After serving as an assistant pastor and religion teacher for two parishes, Darby was appointed to the history department at the archdiocese's Cathedral College beginning with the 1938-39 school year. Cathedral College was a "minor seminary"- a preparatory school for possible candidates for the priesthood.
In 1938, Fr. Joseph Moody decided to found a labor school at the nearby College of New Rochelle, a women's college operated by the Ursuline order of nuns. Moody asked Darby to assist him, and Darby agreed. The New Rochelle Labor School opened in October 1938, with a curriculum designed to train labor union leaders in organizational skills and Catholic social teaching. Fr. Darby taught the "Industrial Ethics" course, based largely on papal encyclicals such as Leo XIII's "Rerum Novarum" and Pius XI's "Quadragesimo Anno". Classes met on Tuesday and Thursday nights on the College of New Rochelle campus, and each term lasted about ten weeks. Classes were free of charge, and the college faculty often doubled as instructors at the labor school. In addition to industrial ethics, courses were offered in public speaking, American labor history, labor law, and parliamentary procedure.
Fr. Darby became a religion instructor for the College of New Rochelle in 1940, while retaining his positions at Cathedral College and at the labor school. Upon American entry into World War II, Fr. Moody was called into service as a naval chaplain and Darby succeeded him as director of the labor school. As director, Fr. Darby was often asked by local unions to help settle strikes or for advice in handling grievances with management. He also assisted "right-wing" unionists to rid their locals of suspected Communist influence. In 1949, the New Rochelle Labor School began its "Management Forum", in which business owners and managers were taught Catholic social doctrine. In 1953, Darby published a history of the labor school entitled "Thirteen Years in a Labor" School". By this time, he had earned a Ph.D. from Fordham University.
Fr. Darby left the labor school about 1957, and did not teach at the College of New Rochelle after 1959. He was transferred from Cathedral College in 1961 and made pastor of St. Gregory Barbarigo parish in Garnerville, New York. In 1964, he received the title of monsignor. He was transferred to Mamaroneck, New York, as pastor of Holy Trinity parish in 1969. Msgr. Darby retired in 1977, and currently resides at the Pope John Paul II Residence in New York City.
EVANS, JOSEPH P.
Joseph P. Evans was born on November 29, 1904, in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His father, Edward Evans, was a physician, as were his uncle and brother. Evans began his college work at Notre Dame in 1921, but transferred to Harvard two years later to finish the B.A. He then attended Harvard Medical School and received his M.D. (cum laude) in 1929. He went on to earn M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from McGill University in 1930 and 1937 respectively. He married Hermene Eisenman on June 24, 1929.
Dr. Evans' medical specialty was neurological surgery. He spent much time during the 1930's in postgraduate study of his specialty at such institutions as Cambridge University and the University of Breslau (Germany). In 1937, Dr. Evans became associate professor of neurological surgery at the University of Cincinnati. In 1947, he served on a two-month medical mission to Austria. In 1954, he left Cincinnati to become professor of neurological surgery at the University of Chicago. He retired from the University in 1970. He was very well respected in his field, having published articles in various medical journals and having been an officer of such associations as the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the American Neurological Association.
In July 1961, Evans cosigned an open letter composed by William J. Nagle and Thomas P. McTighe and circulated in the Catholic press which commented on a speech given by Archbishop Vagnozzi, the apostolic delegate to the U.S. The archbishop indicated that Catholic intellectuals were risking their orthodoxy to gain acceptance in secular intellectual circles. Nagle, McTighe, Evans, and the other signatories disagreed, and their letter triggered a debate not only on the merits of their position, but also on the propriety of public disagreement with a senior member of the church hierarchy.
After his retirement from the University of Chicago, Dr. Evans began international liason work for the American College of Surgeons in South America. The Evanses moved to Medellin, Colombia, in 1971 and resided there until 1977. While in Colombia, Dr. Evans became involved with the U.S.- based charity Futures for Children, and joined its board of directors in 1976.
In 1977, Dr. Evans returned to Chicago. He moved to his current residence in Kensington, Maryland, in October 1978. In recent years, Dr. Evans has been active in the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and wrote an article on "nuclear winter" for the April 20, 1984, issue of Commonweal.
Over his long career in medicine, Dr. Evans received many honors and awards. Prominent among these are an honorary doctor of science degree from Loyola University of Chicago in 1964, appointment as a Rockefeller Fellow for 1935-36, a fellowship in the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Affairs in 1968, and a Distinguished Service Award from the American College of Surgeons in 1981.
FALLON, JOHN J.
John J. Fallon was born in New Rochelle, New York, on February 2,1923, the son of Francis and Beatrice Fallon. After service in the U.S. Army during the Second World War for which he was decorated with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, Fallon graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1948. He received a law degree from Cornell University in 1951, and was admitted to the Missouri bar. He moved to Kansas City with his wife Ethel (nee Schwartz) whom he had married December 27,1948. He was hired by the Kansas City law firm Stinson, Mag, Thomson, Evers, and Fizzell immediately upon completion of his legal studies, and remained with the firm until 1954, specializing in corporate law. From 1958 to 1969, he practiced with the firm Fallon, Guffey, and Jenkins.
In the early 1960's, Fallon joined a discussion group with fellow Kansas City Catholic businessmen that included Michael Greene and Frank Brennan. The discussions often touched upon the feasibility of a national Catholic newspaper. Greene was managing editor of the diocesan newspaper "Catholic Reporter". Fallon drew up a contract between the "Reporter" and its new printer, who used the new and cheaper offset process. Fallon and Greene then decided that a national Catholic newspaper could be financially viable. Fallon recruited Brennan to handle the initial fundraising, and asked Bishop Charles Helmsing of the Kansas City - St. Joseph Diocese for his support. Bishop Helmsing allowed the new paper, the "National Catholic Reporter",to use the personnel and facilities of the existing diocesan newspaper. Fallon drew up the articles of incorporation and bylaws for the nonprofit National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company, and became the first president of its Board of Directors. Michael Greene became the first "NCR" publisher, and the first issue was published on October 28,1964.
As president, Fallon was designated as the official liaison between the paper and the Bishop, who was to offer his advice to the paper from time to time. Fallon was so assigned in order to protect the independence of "NCR" editor Robert Hoyt, who also edited the diocesan newspaper and was a diocesan employee. This position was to prove troublesome for Fallon in the next four years, as Hoyt printed many articles that were not to the Bishop's taste. Among these were dissenting views from official church teaching on issues such as contraception, clerical celibacy, and the virgin birth of Christ. By 1967, Bishop Helmsing had publicly stated his regret of his earlier support of the "NCR", and the paper moved its offices off diocesan property. In October 1968, the Bishop issued an "official condemnation" of the "NCR", calling some articles "blasphemous" and "heretical", and requesting that the word "Catholic" be stricken from the masthead.
In a statement dated October 15,1968, the "National Catholic Reporter"'s Board of Directors responded that it saw religious journalism "...as the format through which probing, experiment, and the expression of unofficial opinions can occur", not as " . . . an extension of the formal teaching office of the Roman Catholic Church." By unanimous consent, the Board rejected the request to alter the paper's name.
While fully supporting the stand of the directors, Fallon decided to resign as president of the publishing company. In the statement announcing his resignation, Fallon indicated that although the paper should be independent of the hierarchy,it was concentrating too much on controversial issues: "Constant emphasis on the issues which divide those of us in the Church only accentuates this division..."
After his departure from the "National Catholic Reporter", Fallon continued to practice law in Kansas City. He was active in the 1972 Nixon campaign in Kansas City, served on the Jackson County Bond Advisory Commission from 1967 to 1972, and was president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce from 1967 to 1969. As of 1981, he was a partner in the firm Fallon and Jones, of Kansas City.
FARLEY, JAMES A.
James A. Farley was born at Grassy Point in Rockland County, New York, on May 30, 1888. His parents were James and Ellen (Goldrick) Farley. The elder Farley died when James was nine years old, leaving five sons of whom James was the second. James Farley graduated from Stony Point High School in 1905, attended a business school in New York City in 1906, and then briefly worked as a bookkeeper at a paper company. He was then employed as a bookkeeper and salesman for Universal Gypsum Company until 1926. He then founded his own building supply firm, James A. Farley and Company. This business merged with five others to form General Building Supply Corporation in 1929, with Farley the corporate president until 1933.
Farley's political career began with his election as town clerk for Stony Point, New York, in 1912. Rockland County was then a Republican stronghold, but Farley ran as a Democrat and won. He served until 1918, when he was given a one-year appointment as a New York City port warden. He became Rockland County Democratic chairman in 1918 or 1919 and held that office until 1929. Farley then served as a Stony Point town supervisor (1919-21), Rockland County supervisor (1920-23), and State Assemblyman (1922-24). Upon his defeat for re-election to the State Assembly, Governor Alfred E. Smith appointed him to the State Athletic Commission. Farley became chairman of that body in 1925 and served until 1933.
In 1928, Farley became secretary for the New York State Democratic Committee. In this capacity, he helped to organize Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1928 gubernatorial campaign. He was promoted to state chairman in 1930 and held that position until 1944.
Farley managed Roosevelt's 1932 presidential campaign, and was instrumental in persuading John N. Garner's delegates to the Democratic national convention to support Roosevelt. He was very successful as campaign manager, largely due to his highly personal style. He always addressed fellow party leaders by their first names, and signed his letters as "Jim". When Roosevelt became President in March 1933, Farley was appointed Postmaster General. This office was a major source of patronage, and Farley made full use of it. Farley appointed only loyal Democrats to jobs under his supervision. He freely acknowledged this, but insisted that he never appointed anyone who was not capable of fulfilling their duties. He was also appointed national chairman of the party.
Farley managed Roosevelt's first re-election campaign in 1936. However, he did not support Roosevelt's effort for a third term in 1940, and may have considered running for the Democratic presidential nomination himself. Farley resigned as Postmaster General and national party chairman.
Farley then became chairman of the Coca-Cola Export Corporation, a position he held until retiring in 1973. He also remained active in New York politics, serving on the state banking board from 1950 to 1955 and the state harness racing commission from 1959 to 1976. Farley was a chief organizer of Abraham Beame's 1965 campaign for mayor of New York City, and was a delegate at every Democratic national convention from 1932 to 1968.
Farley was married for over 34 years to Elizabeth Finnegan. They were married in April 1920, and Mrs. Farley died in 1955. Mr. Farley died in New York City on June 9, 1976. He was the author of two books: "Behind the Ballots" (1938), and "Jim Farley's Story; The Roosevelt Years" (1948). Farley was the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, and was awarded a Laetare Medal by the University of Notre Dame in 1974.
GREENE, MICHAEL J.
Michael J. Greene was born on April 7, 1928. He graduated from Central Catholic High School in Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1945. He then enrolled at the University of Notre Dame and earned a bachelor of arts degree in English in 1949. From September 1949 until March 1950, he attended graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh. He was inducted into the Army in January 1951 and served as a "Stars and Stripes" reporter with the 7th Division in Korea. He was discharged in October 1952, and ran a small business in Florida for a year. He joined a Catholic newspaper in Kentucky, the "Louisville Record", as assistant editor in October 1953. He stayed with the "Record" until 1958, when he became associate editor of the "Baltimore Catholic Review".
In 1959, Greene moved to Kansas City to accept the position of managing editor with the diocesan newspaper "Catholic Reporter". He worked closely with editor Robert Hoyt and executive editor Fr. Vincent Lovett. The "Reporter" attracted readership from outside the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, and the staff considered expansion into a national paper. In 1964, Greene suggested the idea to John Fallon, who recruited Frank Brennan as a fundraiser. Greene, Fallon, and the rest of the group approached Bishop Charles Helmsing, who approved the project and permitted the new paper to share facilities and staff with the diocesan "Catholic Reporter". The first issue of the "National Catholic Reporter" was published on October 28,1964. Greene was publisher of the "NCR" while remaining managing editor of the diocesan "Reporter". For the national paper, his responsibilities included promotion of subscription sales and financial management. He resigned from the "NCR" in September 1965, having a personality conflict with "NCR" editor Hoyt. He was succeeded as "NCR" publisher by Donald J. Thorman. For his work with the diocesan "Catholic Reporter", Greene received a Best News Story award from the Catholic Press Association in 1964.
HAYES, CARLTON J.H.
Columbia University historian and author Carlton J.H. Hayes was born in Afton, New York, on May 16, 1882. He was the son of Dr. Philetus and Permelia (Huntley) Hayes. He enrolled at Columbia University in 1900, where he would spend his entire academic career. Hayes earned his baccalaureate degree in history in 1904, and a master's degree the following year. While working in the doctoral program, Hayes was appointed a lecturer of history. He completed his doctorate in 1909, and was promoted to assistant professor in 1910. Hayes was appointed an associate professor in 1915.
During the United States' participation in the First World War, Hayes served in the Army intelligence branch and attained the rank of captain. In 1919, he returned to Columbia and was promoted to full professor. Hayes married Mary Evelyn Carroll in September 1920. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1924.
Between the world wars, Hayes' "Europe Since 1815" course was reputed to be the most popular undergraduate course at Columbia. Hayes was a prolific writer, and wrote or co- wrote some 27 books between 1910 and 1960. He was named Seth Low Professor of History in 1939.
In May 1942, Hayes was appointed United States Ambassador to Spain. His primary duty in Spain was to avoid Spanish intervention on the side of the Axis in the Second World War. Spanish dictator Francisco Franco decided to keep Spain neutral, and Hayes returned to the United States in January 1945. Hayes soon published a book about his experiences, "Wartime Mission in Spain" (1945).
Hayes again returned to his position at Columbia, and taught until his retirement in 1950. He remained an active researcher and writer, at least until the publication of "Nationalism: A Religion" (1960). He died on his farm near Afton on September 3, 1964.
The Notre Dame Archives' sole holding regarding Dr. Hayes is an interview with the late Notre Dame archivist Thomas T. McAvoy, CSC (d.1969), recorded on audiotape. Fr. McAvoy was a graduate student at Columbia c. 1935-1938, and apparently took some coursework from Hayes. However, the recording is of exceedingly poor quality and most portions of the interview are nearly inaudible.
Claude Heithaus was ordained a Jesuit priest circa 1929. After studies in Europe and assignments in Kansas and Ohio, Heithaus joined the faculty of St. Louis University about 1943 as an assistant professor of classical archeology. In 1945, Heithaus began to campaign for the admission of blacks to the university. This effort was successful, but when Heithaus pointed out that the newly admitted black students continued to suffer social discrimination at the university, his superiors ejected him from his teaching post and assigned him to Ft. Riley, Kansas, as a military chaplain. In 1946, Heithaus was appointed to the faculty of Marquette University, and taught archeology there for the next fourteen years. He was then permitted to return to St. Louis University, as the administration of both the school and the archdiocese were now of a more progressive opinion in race relations. Fr. Heithaus died in St. Louis on May 12, 1976. Archive holdings regarding Fr. Heithaus consist of an audiotaped interview conducted in the early 1970's.
HOYT, ROBERT G.
Robert G. Hoyt was born in Clinton, Iowa, on January 30, 1922. His parents were Guy and Ella Hoyt. Guy Hoyt died when Robert was five years old, and the family moved to Detroit. Robert was educated in Catholic schools until the death of his mother about 1934.
Hoyt attended St. Norbert College and graduated with a B.A. in 1942. In his sophomore year, he joined the Norbertine order as a candidate for the priesthood. After graduation, he studied theology and taught high school in Philadelphia. He left the Norbertines after one year of theology, having taken only simple vows. He then served in the Army Air Forces for 28 months (c. 1943-1946). He was discharged in Denver, Colorado.
After an unsuccessful attempt at freelance writing, Hoyt joined the staff of the Denver "Register", the flagship of a national Catholic newspaper chain. He worked for the "Register" until 1949, and married Bernadette Lyon in 1947.
Hoyt left Denver to set up a daily Catholic newspaper in Chicago, the "Sun Herald". His associates in this effort were Geraldine Carrigan, Norma Krause, and Adolph Schalk. However, Cardinal Stritch refused permission for the proposed newspaper and the group sought out a bishop who would support them elsewhere. Bishop O'Hara of Kansas City was agreeable, and the first issue of the "Sun Herald" was published on October 10, 1950. Hoyt was editor and president of the fledgling paper. The venture was short-lived, and the paper closed in the spring of 1951. Hoyt took a job with the "Daily News" of Independence, Missouri, but left after one year. He taught English and history at Rockhurst High School from 1950 to 1957 in addition to his journalistic activities.
In 1957, Hoyt became editor of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocesan newspaper, which was part of the "Register" chain. He was assisted by Fr. Vincent Lovett, a diocesan priest. Hoyt and Lovett removed the paper from the "Register" chain in 1959, launching the diocesan "Catholic Reporter". The new diocesan paper was very successful, and began to draw readership outside the diocese. Hoyt, Lovett, and managing editor Michael Greene began to consider expansion into a national paper.
In 1964, a group of Kansas City businessmen including Greene, Frank Brennan,and John Fallon suggested to Bishop Charles Helmsing that a lay-operated Catholic national newspaper could be viable. Bishop Helmsing was supportive, and allowed the new "National Catholic Reporter" to share facilities and staff with the existing diocesan paper. Hoyt became editor of the "NCR" and the diocesan paper, while Greene assumed the additional responsibility of publisher of "NCR". The first issue of the "NCR" was published on October 28, 1964.
The "NCR" board of directors gave Hoyt wide editorial discretion, and he used it to the fullest. Hoyt never feared to print articles dissenting from official teaching on such subjects as clerical celibacy and birth control, much to the dismay of Bishop Helmsing. In 1968, Hoyt published documents obtained from a papal advisory commission on birth control. Some commission members had unsuccessfully urged Pope Paul VI to modify the Church's teaching.
Bishop Helmsing soon regretted his decision to back the "NCR". In 1966, the "NCR" moved off diocesan property and Hoyt left the diocesan newspaper. In October 1968, Bishop Helmsing issued an "official condemnation" of the "NCR" and suggested that the word "Catholic" be removed from the title. The Bishop labeled certain articles as "blasphemous" and "heretical". The "NCR" board of directors replied that the function of an independent Catholic newspaper was to provide a forum for discussion, not to serve as an official teaching arm of the Church, and therefore declined to alter the paper's name.
Hoyt left the "NCR" in 1971. His replacement, Donald Thorman, promised a less controversial but still liberal editorial policy. Hoyt became a freelance writer, and has had articles published in such magazines as "Commonweal" and "America".
Clement Kern was born in Adrian, Michigan, on June 12, 1907. He was the son of John and Dora (Neumaier) Kern. John Kern was an active supporter of the labor movement, as was his son during his long career as pastor of an inner-city Detroit parish. After attending seminaries in Detroit and Norwood, Ohio, Clement Kern was ordained a priest of the Detroit archdiocese on June 11, 1933.
After assignments as a curate at St. Leo Parish (1933-39) and St. Edward Parish (1939-43), Fr. Kern was transferred to Most Holy Trinity Parish, where he would spend the next 34 years. In 1945, Fr. Kern was made administrator of the parish. This appointment was intended to be temporary, as Cardinal Edward Mooney did not believe that Kern had the necessary experience to be pastor. However, Fr. Kern was promoted to pastor in 1949.
Fr. Kern was an extremely active priest. He was a major organizer of the Detroit chapter of the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists, and joined union picket lines during strikes. He persuaded the Teamsters Union to rebuild the parish school, and the United Auto Workers raised money for its maintenance. Under his direction, the Mother Cabrini medical clinic was established. He also persuaded leading Detroit lawyers to open a legal services center to serve those who could not otherwise afford legal counsel.
In 1962, Kern was given the title of monsignor. He retired from his parish in 1977 to become "pastor-in-residence" at St. John's Seminary. He died on August 15, 1983, of injuries sustained in an automobile accident three weeks earlier. In its August 19, 1983, issue "Michigan Catholic" printed the following tribute: "For more than 34 years, as pastor of Most Holy Trinity Parish, Msgr. Kern pricked Detroit's social conscience, prodding politicians, lawyers, newspapermen, and labor leaders to become allies in his own war against poverty."
LOVETT, VINCENT J.
Vincent J. Lovett was a nonvoting member of the first National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company board of directors. A Kansas City priest, he had worked with the Denver "Register" (circa 1949) prior to attending St. Thomas Seminary. His first assignment in the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese was as secretary to Bishop O'Hara and assistant diocesan treasurer. In 1957, he was assigned to the diocesan newspaper to assist Robert Hoyt, the future editor of the "National Catholic Reporter". In 1959, Hoyt, Lovett, and Michael Greene removed the paper from the "Register" chain and established it as a purely diocesan product, the "Catholic Reporter". Hoyt was editor, Greene managing editor, and Lovett executive editor and business manager. The "Catholic Reporter" was very successful and drew subscribers from outside the diocese. Greene, Hoyt, and Lovett began to discuss the possibility of expansion into a national paper. In 1964, Greene recruited John Fallon and Frank Brennan to assist in the foundation of a national paper. The group approached Bishop Charles Helmsing, who approved the idea and gave permission for the national paper to share the staff and facilities of the diocesan "Catholic Reporter". On October 28, 1964, the new "National Catholic Reporter" published its first issue. Lovett served on the board of directors, but because the board's intent was to remain independent of Church hierarchy he did not have a vote. He continued to offer editorial assistance, but gradually devoted more time to the diocesan paper as Hoyt and Greene concentrated on the national edition. By July 1965, Lovett worked almost exclusively on the diocesan "Catholic Reporter", and he left the "NCR" board. He left the priesthood between 1968 and 1972.
MASSE, BENJAMIN L.
Benjamin L. Masse was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on June 17, 1905. His parents were Benjamin and Abbie (Burnette) Masse. He was educated at St. Norbert College and St. Louis University. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1925, and completed his B.A. at St. Louis in 1930. He earned an M.A. in 1932 and a licentiate in theology in 1939. He did postgraduate work at Marquette, Fordham, and Immaculate Conception in Montreal.
Masse taught literature at Regis College in Denver from 1932 to 1935. He was ordained a Jesuit priest in June 1938, and taught history at St. Louis in 1940-41, following the completion of his theology training. At Regis College, Masse had obtained and read the social justice encyclicals of Leo XIII and Pius XI. He lost interest in literature in favor of social issues.
In 1941, Fr. Masse was assigned to "America" magazine as associate editor. He became the New York-based magazine's chief economic policy and industrial relations writer even though he had no formal training in economics. In his career at "America", Masse contributed 517 signed articles, mostly in his "Social Front" column, and roughly 5,000 unsigned articles and editorials. From 1942 to 1955, he assumed additional responsibilities as executive editor of the associated publication "Catholic Mind". Many of his articles in "America" were reprinted in pamphlet form.
In 1948, Fr. Masse was invited to join the Columbia University Seminar on Labor. He also became a member of the Association of Social Economics and was honored with an LL.D. from Loyola University of Chicago in 1972.
Fr. Masse retired from "America" in July 1971. He was a columnist for "Long Island Catholic" in 1972-73, and then served as an assistant pastor at Holy Family Church in New Rochelle, New York. He died at Holy Family on September 28, 1978.
Fr. Masse published a book, "Justice for All", in 1964. He also edited "The Church and Social Progress" (1966), and "The Catholic Mind Through 50 Years" (1952).
Dorothy Abts was born in Randolph, Nebraska, on September 23, 1908, the daughter of Anton and Christina (Lang) Abts. She graduated from the College of St. Teresa in 1929, and then entered the National Catholic School of Social Service at Catholic University, Washington, D.C. She received her diploma from the School of Social Service and a master's degree in sociology from Catholic University in 1931. She was then engaged in medical social work at Johns Hopkins Hospital until 1932, when she became a casework supervisor for Catholic Charities in Omaha, Nebraska.
In 1935, Abts left Omaha to join the School of Social Service faculty in Washington. She resumed her graduate studies and earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Catholic University in 1945. From 1946 to 1948, she was assistant director of the Green Bay Diocese Apostolate. In 1948, she rejoined the faculty of Catholic University with the rank of instructor. The next year, she was promoted to assistant professor and married Bruce Mohler, the director of the National Catholic Welfare Conference's Immigration Bureau.
Dr. Mohler was promoted to associate professor in 1959. Since 1976, Dr. Mohler has been editor of "Social Thought", a quarterly professional journal published by the National Conference of Catholic Charities. Dr. Mohler is a member of several professional societies, and served as a chapter secretary for the American Association of University Professors in 1963-64.
MOLLOY, PATRICK J.
Patrick J. Molloy was born on March 16, 1914, in or near University City, Missouri. The son of Michael and Mary Ann (Mc- Donough) Molloy, he entered St. Louis Preparatory Seminary in 1928. He completed studies for the priesthood at Kenrick Seminary and was ordained in June 1940 by Archbishop (later Cardinal) John Glennon. Fr. Molloy's first assignment was as assistant pastor at St. Peter's Church, Kirkwood, Missouri.
About 1943, Molloy and several others of the clergy of the St. Louis archdiocese wrote a letter to Archbishop Glennon asking for his assistance in securing the admission of a black student into a Catholic women's college. The Archbishop was not receptive of this proposal, and promptly transferred Molloy to another parish. However, towards the end of his tenure, Glennon did permit Molloy to integrate the school at Visitation parish in St. Louis. Molloy also served as a religion teacher, coach, and athletic director at the all-black St. Joseph High School from 1941 to 1948.
After a series of brief parish assignments, Molloy was made pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament parish in St. Louis in 1957. He was transferred to St. Stephen Protomartyr parish in 1970, and is presently its pastor. Molloy was honored with the title of monsignor in 1961 by request of Cardinal Joseph Ritter, in recognition for his human rights work. Msgr. Molloy has served on the St. Louis archdiocesan human rights commission, the mayor's human relations council, and the archdiocesan board of consultors. He is a past president of the archdiocesan school board.
RICE, CHARLES OWEN
Charles Owen Rice was born on November 21, 1908, in New York City. His parents, Michael and Anna Rice, were Irish immigrants. After the death of his mother about 1913, Charles was sent to Ireland to live with his grandmother. He stayed in Ireland until about 1920. Meanwhile, his father had moved to Pittsburgh, and so upon his return to the United States, Charles went to Pittsburgh also. He graduated from Duquesne University with a B.A. in 1930, and began studies for the priesthood after a brief visit to Ireland. He received an M.A. from St. Vincent's Seminary in 1934, and was ordained a priest in June of that year.
Fr. Rice's first assignment was as assistant pastor at St. Agnes Church in Pittsburgh from 1934 to 1940. He also took graduate courses in psychology at Pitt from 1936 to 1938, wrote columns for the diocesan newspaper "Pittsburgh Catholic" from 1936 to 1953, and involved himself heavily in labor union work. Rice founded a labor school in 1939, attended conventions of the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations), and served as Pittsburgh area chaplain of the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists. He would occasionally serve as an arbitrator in labor disputes.
In 1937, Rice founded the St. Joseph House of Hospitality, a shelter for homeless men. He left St. Agnes Parish to devote more time to the shelter in 1940. He resided at the shelter from 1940 to 1951, and continued as director until 1952. In 1942-46, Rice worked in the Pittsburgh Rent Office as rent control administrator. From 1945 to 1949, he directed the Labor Relations Institute at Duquesne University in addition to managing his shelter. Rice also did some radio broadcasting starting in 1939, originally intended to publicize and support St. Joseph House. He later branched out into other topics and had various radio programs until 1971.
In 1952, Rice left the Hospitality House and returned to parish work as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Natrona, PA. In 1958, he was transferred to Immaculate Conception Parish in Washington, PA. In 1961, he became director of Catholic social services for Washington and Greene counties of Pennsylvania. He held this post until the late sixties. In 1964 or 1965, he was honored with the title of monsignor. Soon afterward, he was transferred to Holy Rosary Parish in Pittsburgh.
Msgr. Rice ran unsuccessfully for the Pittsburgh City Council in 1971. He became pastor of St. Anne's Parish in Castle Shannon, PA, in 1976. He retired in 1986, and resides at St. Anne's as pastor emeritus. He served on the Pittsburgh diocesan board of consultors from 1959 to 1971, and from 1976 to his retirement.
SCHAEFER, MARY CATHERINE
Mary Catherine Schaefer graduated from Trinity College in 1927. At the time, her family resided in Cape Charles, Virginia. In February 1928, she was hired as secretary to Rev. John Ryan of the National Catholic Welfare Conference Social Action Department in Washington. Ms. Schaefer worked for the Social Action Department until 1946. At the same time, she became active in the Catholic Association for International Peace. She edited at least two CAIP pamphlets in 1935-36, one of which was a compilation of papal peace messages entitled "A Papal Peace Mosaic" (1936).
In 1946, Schaefer was transferred to New York City, where the NCWC was setting up a United Nations observer office. The major purposes of the office were to make church positions known at the U.N., and to inform the U.S. bishops of happenings there. The Vatican established its own observer mission in 1964, and the two offices cooperated when needed. The NCWC office concentrated its efforts in the U.N. economic and social council, and eventually received consultor status to the American delegation to this council. In 1972, the office was disbanded, and Ms. Schaefer retired.
STEPAN, ALFRED CHARLES JR.
Alfred Charles Stepan, Jr. was born in New York City on April 17, 1909. His parents were Alfred Charles and Charlotte (Corbett) Stepan. He graduated from Notre Dame with a B.A. in 1931, and later studied at Northwestern University and the Illinois Institute of Technology. He started his own business, the Stepan Chemical Company, in Northfield, Illinois, in 1932. He married Mary Louise Quinn in February 1934.
In 1956, Stepan received copies of three papers that had been presented at St. Louis University the previous year from former Notre Dame president Fr. John Cavanaugh. Stepan was most impressed by Msgr. John T. Ellis' "American Catholics and the Intellectual Life." Stepan agreed with Ellis' contention that American Catholics despite their large share of the U.S. population had yet to make significant contributions to American intellectual life, and decided that Ellis' work needed to be published. He enlisted the aid of fellow Notre Dame alumni Arthur Conrad and Neal Harley for the project. The three originally planned to publish all the papers given them by Fr. Cavanaugh, but later decided that the impact of Msgr. Ellis' work would be lessened by including the others. Conrad arranged for Bishop John J. Wright of Worcester, Massachusetts, to write a preface for the collected papers, but was unable to contact Bishop Wright when it was decided to publish Ellis' alone. Stepan then revised Bishop Wright's remarks to cover only the Ellis paper. The paper was published by the Heritage Foundation, and Notre Dame alumni clubs arranged for its distribution at the 1957 National Catholic Education Association meeting in Milwaukee. Copies were also sent to major houses of religious teaching orders such as the Dominican Sisters. The paper made quite an impact, as Stepan and his associates expected, including coverage in "Time" magazine.
Mr. Stepan received an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1963, and served on the Board of Trustees.
Bernard Strange (b. June 8, 1906, Bramble, IN) was ordained a priest for the Indianapolis diocese in 1934. After a year as assistant pastor at St. Joan of Arc parish in Indianapolis, he was assigned to St. Rita parish, where he would spend the next 38 years. At the time of his appointment, St. Rita's was a "colored" parish with a segregated school.
Father Strange spent much of his active ministry as a civil rights campaigner, and was perhaps most noted for his leadership in the effort to desegregate Indianapolis' Catholic schools in the late 1930's and early 1940's. Strange was supported in this effort by Bishop Joseph Ritter (later Cardinal Archbishop of St. Louis). Father Strange later served as membership chairman for the Indianapolis chapter of the NAACP, and participated in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s march on Washington. Fr. Strange was transferred to St. Francis de Sales parish in 1974, and retired in 1976. He died in Indianapolis on September 24, 1987.
Archives holdings on Fr. Strange consist of an audiotaped interview conducted circa 1975. Sound quality is fair to good.
SWANSTROM, EDWARD E.
Edward E. Swanstrom was born on March 20, 1903, in New York City. His parents were Gustave and Mary (Cronin) Swanstrom. He graduated from Fordham University with a B.A. in 1924. He then studied for the priesthood at St. John's Seminary in Brooklyn. He was ordained a priest of the Brooklyn diocese on June 2, 1928. Fr. Swanstrom earned a diploma from the New York School of Social Work in 1933 and a Ph.D. from Fordham in 1938. His doctoral dissertation concerned the problems of waterfront laborers in Brooklyn.
Swanstrom was curate at St. James Pro-Cathedral in Brooklyn from 1934 to 1960. He took on additional responsibilities as assistant diocesan director of Catholic Charities from 1933 to 1943, assistant executive director of Catholic Relief Services from 1943 to 1947, and finally as executive director of CRS from 1947 to 1976. Catholic Relief Services was originally intended as a temporary effort of the U.S. bishops to assist World War II refugees and POWs, but by 1955 the organization became permanent, and assisted victims of natural disasters as well as victims of war. In its earlier years, CRS concentrated on resettling refugees and sending supplies of food, clothing, and medicine to areas of need. Later, CRS began efforts to foster economic development in the areas it serves, particularly in the Third World.
In 1960, Swanstrom was appointed auxiliary bishop of New York by Pope John XXIII. He also served as pastor of St. Andrew's Church in New York City from 1965 to 1973 while remaining executive director of Catholic Relief Services.
With American involvement in the Vietnam War, CRS began substantial operations in southeast Asia. Swanstrom and CRS were heavily criticized by the Catholic Peace Fellowship for concentrating their efforts in South Vietnam. In 1967, it was alleged by the CPF that CRS' single largest food distribution program was being used by the U.S. and South Vietnamese governments as a pay program for South Vietnamese militiamen and their families. If so, said the CPF, Catholic Relief Services was merely an agent of American governmental policy rather than an impartial provider of needed services to the people of Vietnam. Bishop Swanstrom replied that aid to North Vietnam was probably against U.S. law, and that there was no assurance that CRS aid would not be used for military purposes. He made several trips to Vietnam from 1956 to 1968 to oversee CRS operations there.
Bishop Swanstrom retired on March 20, 1978, and still resides in New York. He holds honorary degrees from Catholic University, Iona, and St. John's. He was named an assistant at the papal throne in 1977. He is the author of two books: "The Waterfront Labor Problem: A Study in Decasualization and Unemployment Insurance" (1938 dissertation), and "Pilgrims of the Night: A Study of Expelled Peoples" (1950).
THORMAN, DONALD J.
Donald J. Thorman was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on December 23, 1924, the son of Harry and Adolphine Thorman. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1942 to 1946. After his discharge from the Marines, Thorman attended DePaul University, graduating in 1949. He earned a master's degree in sociology from Loyola University of Chicago in 1951, and served as a sociology instructor at Loyola until 1954. He married Barbara Lisowski in 1952. Thorman began doctoral work at Fordham University, but dropped out and returned to Chicago when his brother-in-law became terminally ill.
Upon returning to Chicago, Thorman took the job of managing editor for the magazine "Voice of St. Jude" (now "U.S. Catholic") while continuing to teach at Loyola. This was not his first editorial position, as he had been an editor with "Christian Family" magazine in 1949. Thorman left "Voice of St. Jude" in 1956 to take up graduate studies at Notre Dame and work at Ave Maria Press. He served as managing editor of "Ave Maria" magazine from 1956 to 1962.
After a short stint as director of development and publisher for the Spiritual Life Institute in 1962-63 and two years as an independent public relations/management consultant, Thorman became publisher of the Kansas City-based "National Catholic Reporter" in December 1965. The "Reporter" quickly made a name for itself as a Catholic paper fiercely independent of the Catholic hierarchy. Editor Robert Hoyt printed articles dissenting from official church teaching on a number of subjects, including birth control and priestly celibacy. Bishop Charles Helmsing of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese objected strenuously to what he considered irresponsible liberties with church doctrine, and issued an "official condemnation" of the paper in October 1968. The Bishop requested that the word "Catholic" be dropped from the masthead. The affair led to the rejection of the Bishop's request by the "NCR" board and the resignation of board president John J. Fallon, who considered the paper's editorial policy too much attuned to controversy.
In a 1969 speech, Thorman indicated that while the "NCR" would remain a decidedly liberal publication, it would be less sensational: "We won't turn right-wing, but we have to stay abreast. When we were raising a lot of issues, that's what our readers liked. Now they want some help in finding answers -- articles that tell how Catholics are meeting problems instead of articles that stir things up."
In 1971, Robert Hoyt left the "NCR" and Thorman replaced him as editor while retaining the title of publisher. Thorman expanded the activities of the National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company to include audiocassettes and newsletters, and so managed to keep the paper financially healthy despite a nearly 50 percent loss in circulation from the 1960s peak of over 90,000 subscriptions. Thorman became president of the publishing company in 1975 and closely supervised the operations of the "NCR" until his death from complications caused by hepatitis on November 30, 1977.
Thorman was honored by DePaul University with an Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1972 and an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1976. He wrote four books: "The Emerging Layman" (1962), "The Christian Vision" (1965), "American Catholics Face the Future" (1968), and "Power to the People of God" (1970). He was also a co-author of "The Layman and the Council" (1964).
There are no biographical sketches for the following people:
- Allard, Peter
- Carey, Charles
- Cavanaugh, John J.
- Connerton, James M.
- Coquillard, Mary
- Fransen, Adolph
- Fenlon, Paul
- Hagerty, Cornelius J.
- Hamilton, William Thomas
- Hope, Arthur J.
- Hosinski, Helen
- Manion, Clarence
- McAvoy, Thomas
- Nutting, Willis
- Plunkett, Devere
- Smith, E. Harold
- Stritch, Thomas
- Ward, Leo R.
- Female Students ("Coeds")
- Baldoni, Ideal
9 boxes and 106 tapes
- Oral Histories Collection
- University of Notre Dame Archives
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note