Sunday's Commencement ceremony at the University of Notre Dame was a celebration of the best that Catholic education has to offer: students who represent the excellence of our nation; leadership from the president of the university, Fr. John Jenkins, who reaffirmed a vision of faith and reason in Catholic universities; and a call from the President of the United States to use "fair minded words" in trying to find common ground solutions to the problems that divide us.
In the process, President Obama and Fr. Jenkins addressed the critics with their vision, intellect and wisdom and moved the nation - and our Church - forward by opening the doors of dialogue. Throughout it all, the President handled the situation with grace and a Catholic sensibility born of his own faith journey, while Fr. Jenkins and the students and faculty of Notre Dame showed us why Catholic education is an institution that every American, regardless of their faith, can be proud of.
Over the past month, Catholic Democrats has worked hard to support Notre Dame and President Obama. Thousands of you have signed our statement of support, visited our Catholics for Notre Dame Web site, joined our Facebook Group, used our letter to the editor tool or viewed the "Catholic in America" video. As part of our effort, we ran an ad in the Sunday South Bend Tribune congratulating the graduating class of 2009, Fr. Jenkins, and President Obama. Our faith was rewarded, not surprisingly, by two courageous and inspirational speeches.
But even though the seats have emptied at Notre Dame's commencement and the graduates are moving on with their lives, our work continues. In the face of the President's message of civility, cooperation, and diversity, the extreme Right has, if anything, taken an even harder line and the divisive rhetoric continues. In the process there is an incalculable cost to both our society and the Church. Catholic Democrats will continue our work seeking to be, in the words of Fr. Hesburgh, both a "lighthouse and crossroads."
We are asking you, if have not done so already, to sign our statement of support. We will be sending this to the head of every Catholic college in the country so they know that Catholics stand with them as they too seek to bring "open minds...open hearts...and fair minded words" in finding common ground. And remember, forwarding this email to like minded people will move the national dialogue forward.
Thank you in advance for signing the statement of support and forwarding it to others. On behalf of the thousands of Catholic Democrats in our organization, we sincerely thank you for the tremendous support and leadership you have provided.
With warm regards,
Patrick Whelan MD PhD
Kevin Hayes AIA (University of Notre Dame, 1983)
PS Please consider contributing to this campaign. Your donation of $25, $50, $100, or any amount, will help us cover the cost of the ad and continue our work in the spirit of the "lighthouse and crossroads" we witnessed on Sunday.