portland magazine autumn 2011

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The Autumn 2011 edition of Portland Magazine focuses on the theme of "Why Be A Priest?" Articles by Brian Doyle ("the Late Mr. Bin Laden"); Dave Devine ("Villanous"); Fr. Charlie Gordon, C.S.C. ("Why I am a Priest"); and Ana Maria Spagna ("Don't Forget"); as well as a photo-essay by Steve Scardina ("Saint Andre").


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  • WE ARE BACKOne time I was standing at the foot of a whole terrace of bleachers, in aburnished wooden gymnasium, in Australia. It was late in the morning. Theday was warm. The doors of the gymnasium were open and insects driftedin and out, mostly out, I noticed, probably because they were bored by thespeaker. Certainly some of the hundred boys in the bleachers were boredby the speaker. Some of the boys seemed riveted by what I was saying aboutgrace and pain but more of them were riveted by the two rows of demureyoung ladies sitting up front in their beautiful magenta school uniforms. My talk burbled along like a creek and finally it trickled to a close andI asked the boys if they had any questions which indeed they did and fora while the questions came fast and furious mostly about sports and girls,I noticed. Then a tall thin quiet lad raised his hand. Sir, you said that as an American you owed us honesty and you wouldanswer any question as straightforwardly as possible. I said that? Sir, yes. Fair enough. Fire away. Sir, you elected a skinny young black guy President of the United States? Pause. Everyone stopped mumbling and snickering and snapped to at-tention. My host, a tall brawny teacher who had about half an ounce of fat onhim, clapped his eye on the boy like a huge hand. Even the insects paused.

    Yes, yes we did, I said cautiously, not knowing wherethe boy was going here politics? race? razzing Americans? Sir, that is cool. Exhale generally. Yes, yes it is, I said. Sir, that is very cool, he said, and then everyone laughed,one of those delicious huge collective laughs that is a littlebit relief and a lot just surprise and happiness that some-thing funny had been said that no one expected at all, isntthat sort of breaking wave of a collective laugh a momentto savor when it happens? We are back, I said, when the wave had ebbed a little,and everyone looked a little startled, to hear me start dron-ing on again, but something had been lit, and I dont thinkI could have stopped if I had wanted to. We are back, I said.We are trying to be a great country again. We have beena bully because we were scared but now we are back. Werenot perfect. Well never be perfect. Youre not perfect either.But we both sure can try. We can try to be great not in

    power but in ideas and hope and dreams and laughter and generosity andgrace. We can try that. We can try to be the countries that go past race andviolence and greed and power. We can try, at least. No one else is as strongand young and free as we are, not that I can see. We can dream big. I thinkour countries are cousins in that way. Yes, we elected a skinny young blackguy as President of the United States. That means the world to me and notfor the reason you think, because hes black or a Democrat or any of that.It means the world to me because I love the idea of my country and I lovethe guts and grace of so many of the people in it. We are tired of violence andlies and by God we are back in the game. I dont care who we elect, whatparty and what race and what gender, as long as he or she pours every inchor his or her energy into the best most generous most creative most mercifulleast vengeful least violent most inventive America that could ever be.I think we just voted to be us again. We voted to be the very best kind ofAmerica we can be. We might totally screw it up again and this young guymight get booted out right quick but as of right now we are back. Did thatanswer your question? Sir, yes, he said, with just a beautiful hint of a smile, not a whole smile.Yes, it did. gg

    Brian Doyle (bdoyle@up.edu) is the editor of this magazine. A collection of hisshort stories called Bin Ladens Bald Spot will be published in October by RedHen Press.



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  • Cover: The Reverend Philip McDevitt,by Thomas Eakins, 1901. Our warmthanks to the Snite Museum of Artat the University of Notre Dame,and especially to Robert Smogor forhis help.

    16 / The Late Mr. Bin Laden, by Brian DoyleBrilliant, charismatic, wealthy...and twisted. What a waste of glorious gifts.

    18 / Villanous, by Dave Devine 97Former Villa Maria residents muse and remember and fall down laughing.

    24 / Saint Andre, photographs by Steve ScardinaA year ago this fall the Congregation of Holy Cross celebrated

    the canonization of its first recognized saint ever,Brother Andre Bessette, of Montreal. The streets of Rome were electric.

    28 / Why I Am a Priest, by Father Charlie Gordon, C.S.C.Twenty reasons for having one of the hardest and coolest jobs there is.

    32 / Dont Forget, by Ana Maria SpagnaThings can change. Do not despair. Hold hands against the darkness. Walk on.

    4 / Big Paul Waldschmidt and a Polish playwright friend

    5 / The cheerful beaming funny gentle treasure Father Pru, C.S.C.

    6 / Why do we poison our children? Why is that?

    7 / In the seething holy burble of Holy Redeemer School

    8 / This gem of a school: Diarmuid OScannlains Commencement speech

    9 / The ebullient witty new vice president Father Mark Poorman, C.S.C.

    10 / But no one came: Robert Thalhofer 50 on discovering Dachau

    11 / Schoenfeldt Series guest Steve Forberts phoneographs

    12 / To afflict and comfort: journalist Steve Duin in The Beacon

    13 / The young Billy Gable at the Meier and Frank necktie counter, 1922

    14 / Sports, starring World Cup energy boost Megan Rapinoe 10

    15 / University news and notes and feats and fetes

    37 / The beloved Father John Delaunay, C.S.C.

    48 / Have the grace to say thanks: Air Force General Dana Atkins 77

    49 / The hands that delivered the Red Sox a great centerfielder at last

    Autumn 2011: Vol. 30, No. 3President: Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C.

    Founding Editor: John SoissonEditor: Brian Doyle

    Tall Lanky Brilliance and Designer: Joseph Erceg 55Glue and Tape: Matt Erceg

    Associate Editors: Marc Covert 93 & Amy Shelly Harrington 95Contributing Editors: Louis Masson, Sue Sfve, Terry Favero, Mary Beebe

    Portland is published quarterly by the University of Portland. Copyright 2011 by the Universityof Portland. All rights reserved. Editorial offices are located in Waldschmidt Hall, 5000 N. Willamette

    Boulevard, Portland, Oregon 97203-5798. Telephone (503) 943-7202, fax (503) 943-7178, e-mail address:bdoyle@up.edu, Web site: http://www.up.edu/portland. Third-class postage paid at Portland, OR 97203.Canada Post International Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 40037899. Canadian Mail

    Distribution InformationExpress Messenger International: PO Box 25058, London, Ontario, Canada N6C6A8. Printed in the USA. Opinions expressed in Portland are those of the individual authors and do not

    necessarily reflect the views of the University administration. Postmaster: Send address changes to Portland,The University of Portland Magazine, 5000 N. Willamette Boulevard, Portland, OR 97203-5798.


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    Autumn 20111

  • L E T T E R S


    day realities of living with adisability that is cruel, thoughthat is of course a struggle.It is the knowledge that de-spite the fact that there isdecades-old evidence ofproven therapies for autismand sensory processing dif-ficulties, our son, like somany others, is denied thiscare by insurance compa-nies, despite all the suffering,and by state and federallegislatures that allows thissituation to continue.Barbara HaferPortland, Oregon

    FRHLICHE FRAUIn 1971, I made my first tripto Salzburg with Fr. PaulWaldschmidt, C.S.C., I was17 years old when I met anAustrian woman with bighair, a crooked smile, andthat white coat. Her children,Matthias and Gabi, giggledshyly behind her skirt. Herhusband, Herr Strobl, wasnoticeably absent since heworked long hours at theStiegl brewery. He had nofirst name. Neither did she.She was called, simply, FrauStrobl. She had just com-pleted her first year of em-ployment with the newlyopened University Center atNeutorstrasse 39 and livedin the basement. She andher family adored Waldy, andhe worshipped her as hishousekeeper and confidante.He would spend four weeksevery spring and fall foryears in the loving embraceof the Strobl family. I re-turned to Salzburg for twosemesters in 1973-74. Thestern and loving Frau Stroblcomforted me through myhomesickness and nurturedme in the Austrian ways.True affection needs fewwords. On my final day inSalzburg that year, I soughther out for our last farewellas I headed to the train sta-tion. She looked directlyinto my eyes and said John,komm nach Hause! (John,come home!).

    And so I do. Her welcom-ing invitation to return toher family and city sustained

    me through many difficultyears of medical studies. Ivowed to return regularlywith a whole tribe of familyand friends. In 1980, shemet my future wife, Diana,and signaled her approval.We spent New Years withher and her family in 1984.Once our children becameold enough, we trekked overto spend an Austrian Christ -mas with the Strobls in 2002.And I happened to be inSalzburg on the day the oldCenter closed in 1994. It wasthe only time Ive seen FrauStrobl weep, as she silentlycarried her memories to thenew Center.

    The years with the Uni-versity of Portland have beenkind to Frau Strobl. She isas strong as ever. She andHerr Strobl recently arose atfour in the morning to walk20 kilometers from Mond-see to Maria Plain for Mass,and then returned home byfoot. As I get hairier, heav-ier, and grayer, she remainstimeless in her appearance,fashion, a