Fr. Jenkins Honors Fr. Corby at Gettysburg
Published: June 27, 2013
Author: Stephanie Sibal
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President of the University of Notre Dame, recently visited Gettysburg , Pa., to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle and the role Rev. William Corby, C.S.C., played in it.
Fr. Jenkins blessed a statue of Fr. Corby, who was a Union Army Chaplain with the 88th New York Volunteer Infantry (nicknamed the Irish Brigade), said Mass and spoke to the ND Club of Gettysburg on June 22 in Gettysburg National Military Park.
Fr. Corby’s statue is the only one erected on the battlefield for a man who had no weapon. But his impact was immeasurable: Fr. Corby climbed on a rock after his brigade arrived during the second day of the battle - July 2, 1863 - and asked for God’s mercy and general absolution of all men from both sides. “As he pronounced the words of absolution,” Fr. Jenkins said, “an observer noted that every man, whatever his religion, fell on his knees and bowed his head.”
Fr. Corby befriended both Union and Confederate backers during the war. He personified bravery, dedication, clear convictions and faithfulness. Fr. Corby later became the third president of Notre Dame, and then later served again as the sixth president.
In his remarks to the ND Club, Fr. Jenkins used Fr. Corby’s inspirational example to encourage people to fight for their causes while cultivating personal relationships with the other side to help resolve conflicts in ways beyond hostility, violence and war. “This is the message of the silent dead of Gettysburg: There must be a better way to resolve our conflicts than the one that played out on this battlefield and in this war. Fr. Corby’s invocation of God’s mercy on all challenges us to seek that better way.”
You can read the complete text of Fr. Jenkins’ remarks on ND’s website.
A statue of Fr. Corby similiar to the one at Gettysburg stands in front of Corby Hall on Notre Dame's campus. Holy Cross priests and brothers who serve as faculty or staff membrs at the University live at Corby Hall, which sits beside the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.