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Cuthbert Allen Lecture 2014

“Religious Liberty Under Siege”

GLENDONIn this lecture, Dr. Glendon will argue that commitment to religious liberty is weakening both internationally and domestically. This “first of freedoms” is in serious danger of becoming a second-class right, too easily trumped by other rights, claims, and interests in the West and too often violently attacked in other parts of the world.

Mary Ann Glendon is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University and a former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.  She currently serves on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and writes and teaches in the fields of human rights, law, and political theory. Her widely translated works include The Forum and the Tower, Traditions in Turmoil, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, A Nation Under Lawyers, and Rights Talk. She is a highly sought-after lecturer and adviser on vital matters of law and political philosophy the world over.

Register for this exciting event in our Mary Help of Christians Basilica on Belmont Abbey campus by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||

Support for Michael McGuire's Family

Friends and family of the McGuire family have set up accounts to help Jeff and Donna McGuire cover medical and funeral expenses. You can help by donating in two ways:

1 – YouCaring.Michael McGuirecom — Simply go to the website and search “Michael McGuire”

2 – BankTennessee is accepting donations on their behalf. Checks should be made payable to “Michael McGuire Fund” and mailed to:



2915 Forest Hill Irene Road

Germantown, Tn 38193


Any funds collected in excess of the expenses will be used to create a scholarship in Michael’s name.

Thanks for considering helping out the family of one of our former students, gone too soon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||

The Connells, from Donoughmore to the Carolinas: A Colonial Experience

Belmont Abbey College is pleased to announce an upcoming lecture by Mr. John O’Connell of Donoughmore, Co. Cork, Ireland, titled “The Connells, from Donoughmore to the Carolinas: A Colonial Experience.”

John O'Connell

Mr. John O’Connell, Historian & Genealogist

Mr. O’Connell’s lecture will discuss the history of the Connell/O’Connell family from their home in the parish of Donoughmore, Co Cork, Ireland, to the Carolinas. Their story, like that of so many Irish emigrants, was shaped by Ireland’s experience as England’s oldest colony. As a result of long-term impoverishment and the immediate effects of famine, Ireland’s poor left the country in droves during the nineteenth century. Some of those who left Ireland, including several members of the O’Connell family, ended up in the Carolinas, where they made important contributions to the local community, particularly to the development here of the Catholic Church. Not the least among this group was Fr. Jeremiah O’Connell, who made a gift of lands in Belmont, NC, to the Benedictine monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey in Pennsylvania. From there, in 1876, came the first members of the community that is now Belmont Abbey.

  • Monday, September 15, 2014
  • Grace Auditorium at Belmont Abbey College
  • 7:30 p.m.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

For further information, please contact Dr. Patrick Wadden (

Mr. O’Connell is a local historian and genealogist currently serving as chairperson of the Donoughmore Historical Society in County Cork, Ireland. He has a number of publications, is a contributor to the best-selling Atlas of the Great Irish Famine and is currently doing research for a forthcoming publication on the Irish War of Independence and Civil War (1916–1922). He has lived all his life in Donoughmore.

Founded in 1876 by Benedictine monks, Belmont Abbey College focuses on the development of the whole person in mind, body and spirit. Located just 10 miles west of Charlotte, N.C., the College is currently home to more than 1600 students.  For more information, visit


Tuesday, August 26, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||

Belmont Abbey College Bids Farewell to Ted Crunkleton, Jr.

Beloved alum (’59), baseball coach, Athletic Director and Abbey Athletic Hall of Fame member, Ted Crunkleton, Jr. passed away in comfort and peace on August 18, 2014. Having served in so many ways, Ted’s impact was felt at Belmont Abbey College for many years.


Ted Crunkleton, Jr.

He began as part of the Abbey family by coaching baseball, basketball and soccer at Sacred Heart High School and the Abbey. As the Abbey baseball coach he earned the honor of Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 1967 and also coached three All-American players during his tenure. He also went on to serve as the Belmont Abbey College Athletic Director and was recently honored in 2008 by the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Ted in person, I have been afforded the privilege and honor of getting to know him through interacting with many individuals whose lives he impacted deeply and significantly. He was most often described by those who knew him best as a husband, father, grandfather, teacher, mentor, coach, veteran, athlete and friend. He will be missed by all members of the Belmont Abbey College community and our indebtedness to him is immeasurable.” said current Belmont Abbey Athletic Director Stephen Miss.

Kermit Smith former Belmont Abbey Baseball Coach and colleague recently reflected on Ted’s time at the Abbey and beyond, “our relationship began with my interest in the history of the program that he led and continued because of our friendship. We would speak on the phone several times a year about family and baseball. He was and always will be the Father of Belmont Abbey Baseball. I was honored to call him a friend.”

Join the Abbey community in lifting up Ted and his family in your prayers. Ted and Margie, his wife, had four children and six grandchildren and made their home near the shores of Lake Norman, NC. Ted will be remembered by the monks of Belmont Abbey in their prayers and a Mass offered for the repose of his soul.

Please join his family as they remember their father at Celebration of Ted’s Life on Saturday, August 30, 2014, from 3 to 4 p.m. at Good Samaritan Funeral Home 3362 N. Hwy 16, Denver, NC 28037 (704.483.2124). In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in memory of Ted Crunkleton, Jr. be made to: The Levine & Dickson Hospice House, 11900 Vanstory Dr, Huntersville, NC 28078.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||


BELMONT, N.C. (August 22, 2014) — Private, non-profit, Catholic College, Belmont Abbey the first to sue regarding the HHS mandate, today announced its reaction to the new HHS Mandate Rules that create a new way for non-profit organizations like Belmont Abbey College to state their objections to the HHS required coverage.

The new rule announced today allows non-profits to notify the Department of Health and Human Services of their objections to specific coverage like contraception or abortifacients. The federal government will then contact insurers and third-party administrators to provide the coverage.

“We are still reviewing this new rule but we are hopeful that this is a move in the right direction and that the final rule will protect our conscientious objection rights and fully restore our religious liberty,’ said Belmont Abbey College president Dr. William K. Thierfelder. “We remain concerned that the new rule is still a modification of the “accommodation”, and still requires the provision of the objectionable coverage.”

The Beckett Fund who represents Belmont Abbey College in its suit against the federal government regarding its mandate had this to say: “This is latest step in the administration’s long retreat on the HHS Mandate. It is the eighth time in three years the government has retreated from its original, hard-line stance that only “houses of worship” that hire and serve fellow believers deserve religious freedom. We look forward to reviewing the new rule and its implications for the 102 cases.”

Belmont Abbey filed the first lawsuit against the HHS mandate on November 10, 2011 and refiled their lawsuit on November 20, 2013. The case is currently stayed and awaiting decision from other cases in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Friday, August 22, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||

From Dublin to Rome: Maggie's Summer Abroad


An Abbey Honors Tradition

The Bishop Pilla Summer Institute is a program that many Honors students eagerly await from the beginning of their academic journey at the Abbey. After six semesters of hearing about the grand European adventures from the previous Honors Institute classes, the anticipation of this exciting voyage finally became a reality. Having experienced this five and a half week program for ourselves, we can join the classes before us in attesting to the camaraderie, cultural learning, and deepened faith that ensues when traveling as an Honors class.

A few days before our departure, Dr. Eugene Thuot set up a video chat with our Bishop Pilla program guides. Amidst the pressing responsibilities of finals week, there was much on everyone’s academically frenzied minds; but, when we heard Dr. Luigi Ferri’s Italian accent over the video chat, our nervous concentration on exams was, for a moment, replaced by enthusiasm for our European expedition.

On the Road to Dublin

With final exams finished and final papers trailing behind, we all met at the Charlotte airport to begin a journey that still seemed surreal. In Canada, we met our enthusiastic Italian language professor, Dr. Casciani, as we waited for the flight that would take us to Dublin, Ireland. When we arrived in Dublin, we met our Italian Literature professor, Dr. Ferri, and the John Carroll University students with whom we would take classes, go on tours and socialize in our free time.

Because the Irish professor who was initially going to introduce us to Ireland was not able to join us, a John Carroll philosophy professor, Dr. Wirkus, generously agreed to come last minute and introduce us to James Joyce’s Dubliners. We had many involved class discussions regarding the themes of identity and exile, which would be applied to everything we would read in class thereafter as well as everything we would see on our tours.

Honors students gather for one last picture together before leaving Dublin, Ireland.

I-rish I Was in Dublin…

Dublin presented much in the way of culture, as we took group excursions through the city in the daytime, visiting the places that inspired Joyce in his stories, and passing through Trinity College, which houses sections of the renowned Book of Kells. The students, occasionally accompanied by Dr. Ferri, would frequent the local pubs in the evening, fulfilling the important cultural tradition of tasting Guinness, as we took in the lively scenery of exceptional Irish dancing and Irish music performances.

We were given a day to explore on our own, in which some went to visit a castle, others familiarized themselves more with Dublin city, and the small group I joined took a bus to Glen de Lough, where we hiked for about five hours in the chilly, yet breath-taking Irish mountains. In the famed song “Molly Malone,” Dublin is described as “fair”; however, if I had to portray my impression of Dublin in three descriptions, I would say Dublin is: rainy, infused with hidden beauties and historically rich.

Manila 2

A Luxurious Stay in Milan

Following our introductory week in Dublin, we departed for many new adventures in Italy, beginning in Milan. Our stay in Milan was quite luxurious. We shared hotel “rooms” which in some cases were more like little apartments.

Every morning, we were offered a buffet of gourmet foods in the hotel’s fancy restaurant before beginning our morning classes. We were given some free time between morning and afternoon classes, in which we could eat lunch and relax. In the evening, after more free time, we would gather again for a bountiful dinner of several courses.

During our stay in Milan, we took several day trips to other places, as well. We followed James Joyce’s life to Trieste, where Joyce and Svevo became friends. Our guide took us on a tour from the Svevo museum to sections of Trieste that were relevant to Joyce’s life.

One of the most interesting sites was an opera house that Joyce went to thirty nights in a row in order to gain a more detailed sense of humanity for the realistic qualities of his writings. We also took a boat ride on Lake Como, where we were surrounded by vast mountains, encountering some movie history as we passed by the place in which the original 007 series was filmed. Of course, we could not leave Milan without having seen Leonardo Davinci’s famous painting, “The Last Supper.”

Milan was a place of unity for the Honors students because amidst the excitement of traveling to new places, we strove to keep in mind the message of our college, “That in all things God may be glorified.” Almost every evening, we would join together, either in the hotel or sitting by the pond with turtles and black swans, to pray and reflect on the psalms. As we studied about exile and identity, we were traveling in a place where the language and culture was unfamiliar to us. At the end of the day we were still able to find that element which joins all people – that we are all children of God.

Inside an Italian Basilica

The Adventures of Arezzo

Leaving the black swans of Milan, we moved on to the adventures of Arezzo. Arezzo was the first place where the students were able to put what they had learned of the Italian language course to use. We stayed in a more modern part of Arezzo, but a short walk from our hotel took us under the arches that revealed an older section which harbored many churches, shops and sculptures. Apart from old architecture and delicious gelato shops, the old section of Arezzo harbored an awe-inspiring overlook of far-off mountains, which seemed to be common to nearly every place we visited in Italy.

Similar to Milan, our stay at Arezzo was sprinkled with adventures to other places. We took a bus to Siena where we were given five hours to explore in our own little groups. Siena was a lot more tourist-oriented than I had anticipated, but there were so many hidden away places, like the aqueduct we found and the museum of St. Catherine of Siena’s home.

The city had a very artistic and lively feel, with street musicians playing jazz music and a sidewalk artist who reminded me of the sidewalk artist/chimney sweep, Bert, in the movie “Mary Poppins.” There was also an opportunity for peaceful reflection, as there seemed to be a church at nearly every other corner, including a massive cathedral that displayed some of the most intricate of Siena’s architecture.

Dante and David in Florence

San Pelegrino Hermitage
The day following our trip to Siena, we caught a train to Florence, where we were overwhelmed by the beautiful architecture. We hiked up a large set of stairs as a group to get a view of Florence. We could see Il Duomo on the horizon, where we would later visit. We were given time to explore for ourselves before we met again on a tour. Some went straight to the market and others wandered through the city.

My friends and I went into the church that Dante frequented, which was incredible because we had just taken an Honors course entirely on the subject of Dante’s Divine Comedy. We went inside the museum that held Michelangelo’s “David” and spent a long time taking everything in. Arezzo, Siena and Florence were all very different places, which contributed to our reflection on the meaning of identity.

Florence 1

“I felt the most free in Abruzzo”

The next series of adventures was to be experienced in the countryside of Abruzzo, where we stayed for two weeks. Looking back, it is very difficult to say which place was my absolute favorite, but I can say that I felt the most free in Abruzzo.

Because of our more lengthy stay, we shared bungalows, which instigated a deep sense of camaraderie through cooking, running, game nights of Charades and Catch Phrase, star gazing and adventuring through the countryside. We walked a mile every morning to class on a street lined with a menagerie of wild flowers. We frequently took that time of transit to pray together, talk, and sing.

Pescara, Italy

The highlight of Abruzzo for me was the opportunity to explore the beauty of Italy’s great outdoors. One of the most memorable group adventures was the first hike we took, to see the massive cross that Dr. Casciani and her family placed on the top of the mountain when she was ten years old. Provided with sandwiches and water bottles, all the students piled into the back of a big van, as we were driven part of the way up the mountain.

The travel to the cross was steep, but so beautiful. At the top, we ate and silently appreciated our surroundings for a while, until it was time to descend the slope. Not only was the mountain’s view pleasing, but the fragrance of wild thyme also awakened our sense of smell.

We later traveled to L’Aquila where Dr. Casciani took us on a tour around her home city. The destruction from the 2009 earthquake forced many people out of their homes, but we saw the persevering spirit of the city still present. A Renaissance fair was taking place, with flag throwing and drum-beating. We could hear the instruments playing as we waited inside a church to have Mass with an Archbishop, an old friend of Dr. Casciani’s. At Dr. Casciani’s request, the students provided music for the Mass.

Banner in St. Peter's Square

Cooking, Culture, and Castles

Over the following days of our stay in Abruzzo we made gnocchi and tiramisu with the teachers and embarked on several traveling expeditions. First, we visited Pietrantonj’s Winery in Pescina, where we were able to experience Europe in a particularly sophisticated setting. We were given a tour through the winery, and given a chance to learn about different wines in a wine tasting.

We experienced more culture the next day when we visited Benedictine churches in Bominaco. We also walked to the castle in Bominaco, at the top of which we relaxed while eating bread and salami. We encountered many beautiful mountain views throughout our journey, but just as I encounter a sunrise every morning and never tire of it, these views never ceased to amaze me.

Making the most of the time we had in Italy, we took another hike the next day to the hermitage of San Bartolomeo. Instead of seeing the mountains from a distance, we were literally in the midst of the mountains. After the hike, we celebrated by eating a carton of cherries, having a cherry pit spitting contest. After driving in the bus a little more, we stopped for gelato to celebrate again.

After all the mountains we had encountered, we changed scenery, traveling to a beach in Pescara. We made a sand fortress, ate gelato, and some people even kicked a soccer ball back and forth. We enjoyed our day of recreation.

Gelato 1

A Roman Holiday

Saying good bye to Abruzzo, we arrived in Rome for the most intense part of our trip. In this last week, we adventured as much as we could, despite frequent rainstorms. On one of our tours in particular, when we set out to walk to a Jewish museum and synagogue nearby a particularly powerful deluge spilled down. Even in “La Tempesta di Roma,” as we named it, no amount of rain could dampen our joy, for the rain provided yet another occasion to vocalize “Singing in the Rain” and other tunes.

Amidst tours to the Coliseum, the Pantheon, and other places, we woke up early one morning to get front row seats in the Papal audience. Later, some of the students even got the chance to go to a Papal Mass.

One of my favorite moments in the trip to Rome came when a student in our group set up a Mass for us in the crypt of St. Peter’s. Once again, we were asked to provide the music of the Mass, but this time, The Belmont Abbey Honors students were the only ones in the small room. This particular Mass felt like the epitome of our spiritual union during our voyage.

At the end of the trip, we were permitted three days during which people could pursue their own interests. Some made pilgrimages to specific churches, others traveled in small groups to Assisi, and still others leisurely went through shops in Rome, finding last minute souvenirs for themselves and their loved ones. Rome was an amazing place to end our adventure, not only because it reemphasized to us our faith, which is the center of our lives, but Rome left us hungry to continue our journey in other places, seeking the Good, the True and the Beautiful.

Excellence and Virtue, Joy and Song

Because of the foundational years as Belmont Abbey Honors Students, we were prepared to experience the Bishop Pilla program with the mindset to strive for and draw others to that excellence and virtue which is the heart and purpose of our college. What the Bishop Pilla Program offered to us, besides an amazing opportunity to learn about other cultures first-hand, was that we were able to further develop our identity as a class.

Through camaraderie, we learned we are a group of individuals who are thoughtful, faith-filled, and human, with an ever-present sense of joy in our hearts, displayed particularly through song.

Mary Margaret Gallaher is an Honors Institute Student of the Belmont Abbey College class of 2015. She wrote these memoirs after participating in the 2014 Honors Study Abroad program.

Have class, will travel.

A Summer Well Spent

Tuesday, August 5, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||

Class of 2018 – Crusader Preview Day

We loved having so many from the Class of 2018 on campus for Crusader Preview Day last weekend! We look forward to seeing y’all in the Fall.

Monday, April 28, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||

The Golden LEAF Foundation Awards Scholarships Through North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities

Raleigh, NC, April 23, 2014 – The Golden LEAF Foundation awarded $210,000 to North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities that was distributed among NCICU’s member colleges for the 2013-2014 academic year.

The Golden LEAF Foundation has partnered with North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities to provide scholarship support for 12 years.  During this time, the Foundation has contributed more than $6 million, helping over 1,200 students attend North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities. Students are eligible for $3,000 per year.  Recipients of the Golden LEAF Scholarships must reside in rural counties that are tobacco-dependent or economically distressed.  The overall goal of the program is that these students will return home after receiving their degree and help their rural communities.

“The Golden LEAF Foundation is committed to building the talent, knowledge and skill of North Carolina students,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF president. “The Golden LEAF Scholarship program assists in providing the vital funds needed for a quality education, and therefore, helps level the playing field for economic success in our rural, tobacco-dependent and economically distressed communities.”

Hope Williams, president of North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities expressed deep appreciation to the Golden LEAF Foundation.  “The Golden LEAF Scholarships are critical to providing college access for rural North Carolinians.  Most of these scholarship recipients are first-generation college students, so attending college on a small campus with individual attention can play an important role in their overall success and to their graduation from college.”

About the Golden LEAF Foundation:

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. The foundation receives one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically-distressed and/or rural communities across the state. The Golden LEAF Foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 1,248 grants totaling more than $548 million since its inception. The Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded more than $29 million for scholarships to over 12,000 students from rural North Carolina, since its inception. Scholarships are available to students attending North Carolina Community Colleges, North Carolina public universities and North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities.  For more information about Golden LEAF visit

About North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities:

The mission of North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities is to support, represent, and advocate for North Carolina independent higher education.   NCICU is comprised of North Carolina’s 36 private, non-profit liberal arts, comprehensive, and research colleges and universities accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges – including Belmont Abbey College. NCICU represents independent higher education in the areas of state and federal public policy and on education issues with the other sectors of education in the state. We also provide research and information to and about private colleges and universities, conduct staff development opportunities, and coordinate collaborative programs.  The Independent College Fund of North Carolina, a subsidiary of NCICU raises scholarship and other funding through state and national philanthropic communities to support students attending independent colleges and universities.  To help defray administrative costs, NCICU, in some cases, may receive a modest amount of funds under agreements made with participating companies or may accept sponsorships of meetings or other events.  For more information, visit

Wednesday, April 23, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||

Play is Universal and Unifying

When you think about play, what comes to mind? Maybe you think about little kids running around playing a game, or your own memories of playing with friends or in team sports.

Recently I was interviewed by Blake Hodge with the North Carolina News Network, and we talked a lot about play. Every human being plays, and sport is one form of play that we all can share. We are so wired to play that we’re willing to pay to watch other people do it!

On a deeper level, there’s much more to sport and play than the game-to-game life. Play is like wisdom. It’s contemplation of higher things and done for its own end, not for some other reason. That’s part of what attracts us to sport. We are drawn to excellence, we love watching sports highlight reels of incredible plays. When we watch a world class athlete perform, it makes us wonder on a higher level how we were made to do something this awesome.

Sport can unify. For example, if you’re at a baseball game you’re not thinking about who the person sitting next to you voted for in the last election. You’re simply enjoying a common experience. Think about all the times a sporting event has brought people together after tragedy, including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina or a Red Socks game after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Blake asked how sports can be used to advance social issues. What this brought to mind was the Olympics. I was in the Olympics trials myself in 1980 when I learned the U.S. had boycotted the Moscow Games. The history of the Olympic Games has a number of examples of countries protesting or boycotting over social issues, including the upcoming Sochi, Russia Games. It’s the nature of politics to use such high profile events as a platform because sport is such a universal commonality.

When we watch athletes who compete and perform at the highest levels we can enjoy the experience as if we’re playing ourselves. Too often the focus on the negative aspects of sports, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If your perspective is on sport for the pure joy of play, it is easier to focus on the virtues instead of the sensational, negative aspects.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||

Do the intangibles in sport offer an advantage or disadvantage?

Are there intangibles that can give a player or team an edge? I recently spoke with Greg DePalma on Prime Sports Radio about what makes world-class athletes stand apart. Our conversation included a couple of interesting exchanges on intangible factors that can impact performance.

I told Greg about an NFL wide receiver I worked with who would shout a big-bomb word if he dropped the ball in practice. His emotions would run high in the moment, and he didn’t see that the negative outburst was a distraction. When he was cursing and kicking the ground, he lost that precious fraction of a second where he could reflect on why he dropped the ball – making him more likely to drop the ball again for that very same reason.

Watching him run a play, I noticed he didn’t always snap his head around to look for the ball. Sometimes he would bring his head around slowly, blurring his view. Once he focused on that specific skill, his performance improved. Instead of being distracted by negative emotion, I coached this athlete to focus on gratitude in the moment, to be thankful in all things, whether he caught the ball or not.

Greg also asked for my thoughts on University of Texas football coach, Mack Brown, who is stepping down after 16 years coaching the Longhorns. His last game will be the Alamo Bowl against the University of Oregon, a strong opponent that is favored to win. Greg asked if Texas has an advantage because they want a win for their coach in his last game.

In the case of the Texas players, their emotion will be evident. Especially at the beginning of the game, they will really be going for it. Will it lead to better performance? Maybe in the short term, but that can only carry them so far. They will have to maintain focus for the entire game. In the end, intangibles such as emotion even out and the better team will win. The better team is the one that can overcome distractions and maintain focus through shifts in momentum.

What makes a world class performer stand out is the ability to focus on the task at hand. Losing focus for even a split second can make the difference in winning or losing. There will always be distractions, the key is to maintain focus and allow your mind, body and spirit to work together towards the goal.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||