Relatives, members of the Notre Dame community and Sisters of the Incarnate Word gathered Thursday to honor the life of Sister Mary McNamara, the rector of Breen-Phillips Hall, who died Feb. 7 due to complications from a stroke.University President Fr. John Jenkins presided over a memorial mass held in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Fr. Pete McCormick, director of Campus Ministry, delivered the homily in which he recalled the times when Sister McNamara invited him to say Mass at Breen-Phillips Hall (BP). Chris Collins | The Observer Residents of Breen-Phillips Hall (BP) walk down the aisle of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart during a memorial service held in honor of Sister Mary McNamara, BP’s rector, who passed away last week.“[McNamara] would always start by standing and thanking everyone who attended, saying ‘I recognize there are a number of places you could attend Mass this night but you honor us with your presence to be here in BP.’ My brothers and sisters, on this night we remember a woman of great faith, a woman who witnessed her religious vows to so many people,” McCormick said. “We honor her by your presence as we gather in prayer.”Sister McNamara usually began Mass with a joke, McCormick said. In honor of this tradition, McCormick opened his remarks with a joke, telling the story of a young man who collect-called his father in need of money. McCormick said like the father in the joke, who eventually suggests the phone operator pay the son in his place, people often wish others could “pay” their grief.“You know, I think sometimes in grief, when we lose a loved one, it feels a whole lot like ‘Man, I wish someone else could pay this grief’ because we feel it in every part of our being,” McCormick said. “Some days are good, some days are bad. And let’s be perfectly honest, sometimes it’s broken down into seconds. Some minutes are good, some minutes are bad.”McCormick recounted the words of Fr. Henri Nouwen, who reflected on preparing for death by living a “fruitful” life.“I love this notion of preparing for your death, mainly because it has far less to do with how we die and it has far more to do with how we live,” he said. “And we of the Christian faith and tradition have no greater example than Jesus. Jesus demonstrated how to die, to die for one’s friends, to die in service to others, pointing towards a greater reality.”McCormick said while those gathered mourned the passing of Sister McNamara, they also celebrated the joy she exhibited in her own life.“We gather in sadness, but we also gather in gratitude, gratitude for a woman who lived her life to the fullest,” he said. “A woman that spoke to us exactly what it meant to rejoice.”Following the Mass, Sister Margaret Taylor of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, — Sister McNamara’s religious congregation — recounted Sister McNamara’s love for the Breen-Phillips community.“First, I want you to know that being rector of Breen-Phillips these last six years has been her dream job,” Taylor said. “ … She was thrilled to be accepted as the rector of BP in July of 2012 and she hoped this ministry would last until her retirement.”Residents of Breen-Phillips Hall filled the pews, wearing pink shirts marked with the words “We live in hope,” one of Sister McNamara’s favorite sayings. Taylor reflected on these words, saying Sister McNamara’s life was shaped by her faith.“[McNamara] would often to say ‘We live in hope’ and we say the same tonight because we know we will see her again,” Taylor said. “What she experienced the last week of her life was truly her own paschal mystery. At her bedside, we witnessed the motto of the Holy Cross Congregation: ‘Hail the cross, our only hope.’ We are grateful for her 51 years of prayer and presence as a Sister of the Incarnate Word.”Tags: Breen-Phillips Hall, memorial mass, Sisters of the Incarnate Word, Sr. Mary Catherine McNamara
The Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics hosted its weekly Students Talk Back event in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center on Wednesday afternoon. Students and panelists at the event discussed the domestic and foreign policy of President Barack Obama’s second term in office.The discussion, entitled “Obama’s Second Term: Stronger at Home, Troubled Abroad,” focused on the president’s political trends since when he was first elected.The panel featured Bob Shrum, a political consultant and the USC Dornsife Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics, and Michael Davidson, the CEO of Gen Next, a nonprofit organization that encourages success by expanding educational, economical and global security opportunities.Co-moderators included Dan Schnur, director of Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, and Nick Thomas, a member of the USC College Republicans.Schnur fostered discussion among the panelists and audience members about Obama’s trends in foreign policy and his use of executive power to push through his policies.“Now, Republicans have so much control over the House and the Senate,” Davidson said. “But I … think the center of gravity and the seat of power is still with the president.”Shrum felt that the issue of whether Obama is overstepping his authority through executive order is more of a partisan one.“Whether the president has too much power or not depends on if the president is in your party or not,” Shrum said. “The Republican effort to defunct the president’s efforts was always doomed to fail, and this leads to counterproductive effects for the Republicans, such as sanctions for Iran.”According to Davidson, the American people don’t know what they want because of the massive flow of information from the media and distress within the government. He said this leads to an elected leader who doesn’t know how to lead.“I would like the country to participate in a rigorous debate on the issue,” Davidson said. “The American people need to be more engaged in these topics, but if they’re going to be run on executive orders, then the American people won’t see it.”Davidson said that as a panelist at the event, he wanted to get more people to think about these issues and to attract others to be a part of it.“USC has a Dan [Schnur] for a reason,” Davidson said. “There are few people in the world that care so much about getting students and young people in leadership positions, and this is just one of the many examples of what Dan does to make that happen, so it was an honor to just be a small part of it.”Schnur hopes to show students that disagreement is not necessarily a bad thing because it fosters conversation about the issues. Schnur said that the purpose of the panels is to bring people from different perspectives together for a discussion, not a fight. He said that he attempts to portray a model of discussion in which the participants respect each other’s intelligence, while acknowledging that they may come to different, but equally valid, conclusions.John Vitzileos, a sophomore majoring in international relations and global business, enjoyed the conversational aspect of the event.“There were probably 20 or 30 people here total, so getting to talk to them upfront, up close and getting their opinions on certain issues is something that you couldn’t get in big lecture, where they’re a little bit concerned with the things that would get recorded and put out there,” Vitzileos said.