The month following the publication of Diane Brady’s Fraternity has been memorable here on the hill. Having pre-ordered the book from Amazon, I read it immediately and decided to use it as a text in my History 101 course, American Themes: Heroism. In the week that they read the book, the students will view the superb video on diversity at Holy Cross produced by Sadiqa Al-Salam ’95 in a tutorial with me during her senior year. I discussed the book recently with two bright seniors who are taking a tutorial with me. They praised the book and individuals it profiles, at the same time finding the story a little incomplete. They would like to have seen more of the Jesuit spirit described, and they were curious about the postcollegiate experiences of the graduates, leading to the eminence they enjoy today. That’s a good thing: wishing the book were longer.
The degree ceremony for Thomas was highlighted by his response to the award, choking up at the end when he hoped he would always remember that one day, long ago, a lonely kid from Georgia who had no place to go, found a home at Holy Cross. I was also moved by his recollection of praying outside the chapel that, if God took hate out of his heart, he would never hate again–a prayer that was answered. And, he called Father Brooks a sine qua non of his life. It was a humble address of how Holy Cross helped to open up future options for a confused nineteen-year-old.
This is a proud moment for the College, for Father Brooks, for the black alumni profiled in Fraternity, and for us who are now more profoundly aware of the challenges that were (mostly) overcome to help make Holy Cross what it is today. To read the book is to be edified, but also to be challenged in the name of the integrity of our mission.