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Battling Fires, Tending Souls


Monsignor Thomas Harrington, J.C.B. 1968, J.C.L. 1969, felt a call to the priesthood as a young man, but didn’t know if he could follow it because he also believed he had a vocation to fight fires. His mentor, a Jesuit priest, told him not to worry — he could be in the thick of firefighting while serving as a priest. And so the monsignor wound up having the best of both vocations, as he writes in A Call to Save: The Memoir of a Fire Chaplain (Spinner Publications).

As a fire department chaplain for 40-some years in Hyannis, New Bedford, Taunton and Fall River, Mass., he has pulled down the ceilings of burning buildings with a plaster hook, anointed the corpses of fire and accident victims with oil, and cared for firemen suffering from stress disorder after witnessing the death of colleagues.

His most memorable moment? “Marching with 30,000 other firefighters down the main street of Worcester, Mass., in 1999, a few days after six firefighters died in the line of duty,” he says. “There was an eerie silence. The only sound was the squelch of our shoes on the pavement. More than 100,000 people lined the route of the march, but the throngs were silent, almost reverent.”

The writing of his memoir was prompted by his 2004 experience of arranging hotel accommodation for a woman and her three young sons, one of whom had accidentally started a fire that destroyed their apartment building that day. In the moonlight, the woman with her boys clinging to her showed extraordinary composure in the midst of her trial. In the priest’s eyes she looked like the universal woman, protecting her children, standing strong and gentle in the face of life’s afflictions. He says he had to write about this epiphany, and that led him to pen his memoir.


A Portrait of the Artist

David C. Driskell, M.F.A. 1961, who was featured in the Fall 2005 CUA Magazine, has been a pioneer fighting for the inclusion of African-American art in the larger canon of American art history. He’s also an accomplished artist in his own right, as witnessed by a beautiful coffee-table book on his art, life and scholarship: David C. Driskell: Artist and Scholar (Pomegranate Books.)


A Shaper of CUA

Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle was archbishop of Washington, D.C., and chancellor of Catholic University from 1948 to 1973. He was also the founder of CUA’s National Catholic School of Social Service, an opponent of racial segregation, and the prelate who championed the completion of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. A new biography of his life, Steadfast in the Faith (CUA Press), is written by Morris J. MacGregor, who has done doctoral work at Catholic University.


The Catholic Church and the U.N.

Rev. Joseph Rossi, S.J., M.A. 1977, Ph.D. 1989, tells the story of how the American Catholic Church lobbied for Catholic points of view at the United Nations in the post-World War II years — a time, he says, when the Vatican under Pope Pius XII didn’t seem deeply interested in getting involved in the newly formed body. Father Rossi’s book is Uncharted Territory: The American Catholic Church at the United Nations, 1946–1972 (CUA Press).


True or False?

Ever suspected a spouse, business partner, parent, boss or child was lying to your face? What if you could tell people were lying just by listening to them and observing their behavior? The book How to Spot a Liar: Why People Don’t Tell the Truth…and How You Can Catch Them (Career Press) promises to give readers the tools to determine whether to end a personal or business relationship, gain the upper hand in salary negotiation or move a prospective client toward a desired outcome.

Author Gregory Hartley is a decorated military interrogator who has appeared on TV news programs as an expert on interrogation. His co-author is CUA alumna Maryann Karinch, B.A. 1974, M.A. 1979, the author of eight books.

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Revised: March 2007

All contents copyright © 2007.
The Catholic University of America,
Office of Public Affairs.