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Telling Stories That Matter

Memoirs and Essays
  • Foreword by Wilson D. Miscamble
  • By Marvin R. O''Connell, William G. Schmitt
Product Description
The late historian Marvin O'Connell left a legacy of brilliant prose and pictures of the past, and in this book the reader at long last has access to O'Connell's own story. Fr. Bill Miscamble, a noted historian and scholar in his own right, attributes to O'Connell the title 'Master' above all on account of his ability to know what matters and then write about it "in the way that all great stories are told." In addition to his status as histor (giver of history), O'Connell was a long-time professor and chair of the history department at the University of Notre Dame. He is author of the masterwork, Sorin, which presents the riveting and dynamic narrative of the founding of Notre Dame on the inspired ambition of Edward Sorin, C.S.C. O'Connell was not a man who "genuflected in hagiography." Rather, in the manner he lived faithfully yet soberly under the shining shadow of the Golden Dome, O'Connell told stories in the manner they were lived and with all the accompanying faults and triumphs.

In Miscamble's thorough introduction of O'Connell, he writes that the latter "utilized his striking talents as a historian as an integral part of his fundamental vocation as a priest. O'Connell] once described the historian as a veritable 'midwife to our faith, ' who must capture, as best as evidence will allow, the truth of the past." This position lends itself to the structure of this work. The first part is the sadly incomplete memoirs of Fr. O'Connell, wherein the reader meets the historian and moves with eagerness and confidence into the essays that follow. Highlights of these collected essays include thoughts on Cardinal Newman, Belloc, the Spanish Inquisition, and the historical perspective of evangelization in the United States and modernism at large. What one reads are stories that might have been lost but are here preserved in what can with all moral certainty be called truthfulness. As his friend Ralph McInerny once qualified him, O'Connell combined compassion and judgment such that his histories were always indeed primarily stories and, as the reader well knows, stories have layers and threads and are not told simply for their conclusions.

O'Connell succeeds in showing one how human history is written. Above all, he reveals that history is made by humans, but must also be remembered and deciphered by humans who cannot forego leaving their own marks and prints on everything they encounter (in memory or otherwise). The objectivity we seek can be found in one historical account alone, asserts the priest-storyteller, yet a sharp eye to the past is always consonant with a compassionate desire to understand. Bill Schmitt, Fr. Bill Miscamble and David Solomon do posterity a service by giving us this man and his masterful engagement of history. These friends of O'Connell deem the historian's passion for truth-in-context to be foundational for shaping stories that matter, including his own.

"This artful combination of memoir and selected essays reawakens our memory of Father O'Connell in all his immense personal charm, intellectual energy, rich erudition, keen wit, and steadfast dedication to his interlocking callings as priest and historian." --J. Philip Gleason, Emeritus Professor, History Department, University of Notre Dame

"The work of a master historian, these memoirs and essays are reliable in recounting what happened, insightful in judging how and why, and eloquent in presenting it all with a flair and wit rarely equaled in historical writing. Moreover, they come forth from a Catholic faith so deep and secure that it need not be imposed on the reader. Rather, they do what good historical writing does, placing the reader into a past that can be seen and felt, recognized and understood. Whether it be his colorful accounts of the tumultuous life and times of Thomas More, or the valiant struggles of Newman and the Oxford Movement, or his own seminary training and teaching in St. Paul, or his fortunes as a graduate student at Notre Dame under the tutelage of the eminent Monsignor Phillip Hughes--whatever the topic, reading O'Connell's history gives one the gift of being able to say, I remember that happening and I wasn't even there "--Michael J. Baxter, Director of Catholic Studies, Regis University in Denver

"O'Connell was a master story teller. He was not, however, just a story teller. He was painstakingly rigorous in what and how he taught. His stories always perfectly illustrated a point, but they were never a substitution for the truth--rather an illustration of it." --Bradley Birzer, Russell Amos Kirk Chair in American Studies, Hillsdale College

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    Product Specs
    • SKU: 9781587318658
    • Manufacturer: St Augustines Pr Inc
    • Author: Marvin R. O''Connell
    • Author: William G. Schmitt
    • ISBN 13: 9781587318658
    • Publication Date: 09/01/2020
    • Format: Hardcover
    • Author: Wilson D. Miscamble
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