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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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Letter to the editor: Negative coverage of Saint Mary’s

I am disheartened to see the ongoing negative coverage of Saint Mary’s College by The Observer. As the President of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, founders and continuing sponsors of Saint Mary’s College, many of the statements that have been made in your pages about Saint Mary’s, its Board of Trustees, and administrative leadership are subjective judgments, misinformation, and certainly are no longer “news.” 

The College advanced a policy in 2023, and in response to our Bishop’s public statement, Dr. Conboy and I engaged Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades in a productive conversation that led the Board of Trustees of the College to choose to retain the language of its previous admission policy. Since then, the Board, Administration and Congregation have made extraordinary efforts to listen, to rebuild trust and to communicate more robustly with various constituencies, none of which has received attention from The Observer. 

As President of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, I also wish to point out that the Church of Our Lady of Loretto is the conventual chapel of the Sisters, not owned by Saint Mary’s College. “The Loretto Trust” has no connection with the Sisters and does not raise money on our behalf. The use of the title “Loretto” by the Trust is misleading and potentially harmful to the Sisters. 

From the beginning of its educational ministry, the Sisters have followed in the footsteps of Blessed Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregations of Holy Cross, who said, “If at times you show preference to any young person, it should be the poor, those who have no one else to show them preference… and those who are not Catholic or Christian.” We continue to walk that path. We reach out to students, faculty, parents and friends, regardless of faith or economic status, to engage them in the education of minds and hearts, and to deepen their desire to participate in the creating of a world better than our own. This, too, is the charism of Holy Cross. 

I live and minister on the campus shared by the Sisters of the Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s College. I was surprised to read in your April 19th issue that some believe one has to “go hunting for” the College’s Catholic identity. That identity is alive and thriving for all to see both at the College and at the conventual places on campus. There is no separating our Catholic identity from our commitment to DEIJ, that is, our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. This commitment finds its inspiration in our founding mission, the Church’s Catholic Social Teachings and is echoed in the essential values of Catholic Intellectual Thought. President Conboy, the Board of Trustees and the Sisters of the Holy Cross are not “establishing” DEIJ at Saint Mary’s, we continue the proud legacy of the Congregation and Catholic Church. Saint Mary’s is part of a tri-campus community where many newsworthy events occur every day; however, these do not seem to merit attention by The Observer. 

Women are blessed to have a choice of three Catholic Holy Cross institutions in Notre Dame, Indiana, each with a unique way of engaging its students. Nationally, there are even more choices. As an alumna of Saint Mary’s and the University of Notre Dame, and a frequent participant in the events of Holy Cross College, I can attest that each institution uniquely lives its Catholic mission and adheres to the tenets of its Holy Cross Philosophy of Education. As President of The Sisters of the Holy Cross, I take very seriously my duty to see that Saint Mary’s College and all our sponsored ministries around the world realize their missions. As a publication purportedly supporting the tri-campus community, I hope that The Observer will find better ways to support and accurately report about each of these institutions, their rich heritage and their diverse ways of living their Catholic mission.

Sister M. Veronique, CSC

President of the Sisters of the Holy Cross

April 22

Editor’s Note: While we appreciate Sr. Veronique’s letter, I take issue specifically with her criticism of our paper. The Observer has not taken any position in ongoing controversy on and around Saint Mary’s campus with regards to the admissions policy, nor does it intend to. We have simply reported on developments around organized resistance to the policy and various Saint Mary’s policies, stories we believe are worthy of coverage regardless of one’s stance on the issues at hand. Having publicized the admissions policy in the offset, raising the question publicly for the first time to figures such as Bishop Rhoades, we take our duty seriously to cover all stories pertinent to the tri-campus, not just those that please administrators. It does not need to be said that quotes we include in stories reflect only the views of the person that said them. Furthermore, Sr. Veronique points to “efforts to listen, rebuild trust and communicate,” which she says have received no attention. When an Observer writer attempted to take part in a listening session that was part of such efforts — despite saying she did not intend to represent any organization — she heard nothing back from administrators. In addition, an Observer interview with President Conboy was repeatedly postponed and ultimately canceled. We cannot report on what we are not given access to. We make every effort to correct factual inaccuracies and stand behind our reporting as such.

We admit certain shortcomings. With a limited staff, there are only so many things we can cover, though our pages contain many stories about various facets of life at Saint Mary’s, including two today: one on a residence hall competition, and another on a cookout for first-generation and minority students. Sr. Veronique writes that “many newsworthy events occur every day” that “do not seem to merit attention by The Observer.” I ask that she take a closer look to the many stories we publish each and every week. We look forward to continuing our coverage of all elements of the story and as always, we invite interviews from the administration and board to share their perspective.

Isa Sheikh, Editor-in-Chief

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.