Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Travelogue January & February 2016

Part I:  Nostalgia on a Trip to London, England

We recently visited our son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren in London. 

One of the Tube stops in Central London is Black Friars on the Thames.  Of course it always brings back memories.  There is now a pub on the spot where the former Dominican Priory stood in the Middle Ages. Ask people and they have no notion about the Black Friars.  I said to Joanne, “If we win the lottery we should commission a statue of the Dominican Friar, Vincent McNabb, O.P. (1868-1943) on the street outside the pub.

McNabb Photo from: Vincent McNabb, O.P. The Church and the Land, IRS Norfolk, VA, 2003

St. Dominic’s Church in London has relics of the old Black Friars Priory. McNabb lived at St Dominic’s, served as prior and was a strong advocate of Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno, the two landmark social encyclicals that established a theology of worker rights.  The Dominican Friar was categorized as a distributionist along with his friends Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton.  Dorothy Day was also considered a distributionist.  A review of their work is important in our current situation of world income inequality.

   The news that John Lattner died brought on more nostalgia with reference to Black Friars.  ‘Jarring John’ was a senior when I was a freshman at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois founded and staffed by the Dominicans.  I had seen him play epic Chicago Catholic League football games in ’47 (with Bouncing Billy Barrett – lost to Loyola – as Notre Damers, Barrett and Lattner, teamed up to beat Frank Gifford and U.S.C. in 1951), ’48 (a last second touchdown on a pass from Ed Lejuene to Lattner beat St. George), and ’49 (a win against Terry Brennan’s Mt. Carmel).  While in high school Lattner was named to the All-State football team twice and once to the All-American high school football team. 

Lattner Photos from:  Fenwick Black Friars Year Book 1950   

 He also played basketball.  In his senior year, Lattner led Fenwick to the Chicago city basketball championship.   He was the 1953 Heisman Trophy winner and All-American in his senior year at Notre Dame.  He also played basketball for two years at Notre Dame.  New York sportswriter Red Smith wrote a column about Lattner’s decision to leave the basketball program.  Smith wrote that it was because he wanted to provide a place on the team for his cousin Tom Sullivan.

Lattner Photos from:  Fenwick Black Friars Year Book 1950   
   Lattner later said that maintaining his grades in school had a lot to do with it.

   John Lattner was and is my hero.  I remember and am grateful for a wonderful conversation I had with him a couple of years ago; thanks for the memories John – regards to all the other saints.

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