Christopher Kaczor writing for Crisis says:
Notre Dame Law Professor Gerry Bradley offers this gem:
Ralph recalled that twenty years before he had observed, right there by the Rockne Gym, several students running around “without their clothes on.” I asked if he meant that he saw some “streakers.” “Yes, yes. That was it.” I knew that the first female students were admitted to Notre Dame at just about that time. So, I inquired: “Ralph, these students you saw, were they boy streakers, or were they girl streakers?” Ralph replied calmly, “I don’t know. They all had bags over their heads.”
In addition to humor, generosity marked his life. He and Connie welcomed seven children into their lives and raised a wonderful family. He became Doktorvater to a great many more intellectual children, including Thomas Hibbs the Dean of the Honors College at Baylor, Thomas Cavanaugh the Chair of Philosophy at the University of San Francisco, and Michael Waddell the Edna and George McMahon Aquinas Chair in Philosophy at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame. He directed 47 doctoral dissertations between 1963 and 2009, supervising theses on Hegel, Newman, Carthusian Prayer, Hume, Ortega y Gasset, Nietzsche, Pascal, Kierkegaard, Kant, Islamic philosophy, Blondel, Marcel, and of course Aristotle and Aquinas.
He was a man of who in his person combined traits rarely found in unison. As John Haldane noted:
It has often been said of analytical philosophers that they focus on arguments and conceptual distinctions for their own sake without regard to historical and cultural context or existential significance. Of Continental philosophers it has been observed that they favor poetic imagination and political disposition over analysis and reasoning. Historians of philosophy are still accused of preferring to know who said what and when, rather than to evaluate the quality of the ideas or the arguments for and against them. By education, intelligence and sensibility Ralph McInerny transcended these party distinctions and managed to engage in serious philosophical argumentation, conscious of the prejudices of past and present, and directed towards the goal of determining the nature of human beings and the ends of human thought and action.
Like his philosophical work, his own person combined strengths rarely found together. He was both unflappably calm and brewing with energy, a contemplative daily communicant and a communicator with both depth and clarity, a wit who was at the same time profound. He was at once incredibly active, yet never rushed. Despite all the endeavors as founding and being the first President of the International Catholic University, President of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, founder of Crisismagazine and Catholic Dossier, he spent his afternoons with the door of his office open, talking with students. He must have had much to do, but he never gave us a sense of being in a hurry, or the sense that we were impinging on him.
“Do whatever He tells you.”
As this day comes to me,
Moment by moment,
May I be aware of Your desires.
Seeing, in the meditations
Of my heart, Your actions,
And imitate them, faithfully,
And regard them as a command.
May I take to heart Your desires,
To do all You would do
In my present,
That, like a handmaiden,
Whose eyes are always
Upon the hands of her master,
I may do all,
As You, My Beloved,
Doing always, with love,
The Will of Our Father,
In the power of Your Holy Spirit.
2013 Joann Nelander
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