Reflections from Day 6

Day 6 Reflections

Author: Timothy Deenihan

Today was an absolutely beautiful day.


For a start, today is the only day on the trail, apart from the very beginning and the very end, that we can be certain we are walking in Sorin’s footsteps. We know he came through Lafayette along the Wabash and so did we.


The path we took was in large part single-file through the woods, unpaved. There would have been a footpath for travelers through the woods that they were following, similarly unpaved.…

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Reflections from Day 5

Day 5 Reflections

Author: Timothy Deenihan

My brother thinks I’m an idiot. He’s never said as much to me, but I know it to be true.


He’s a terrific businessman. Very smart. Very successful. As such, he sort of sees the world like a spreadsheet. There are the numbers that go into different columns, some red, some black, and you work to make the black numbers bigger than the red ones. If there’s too much red in an area, you don’t go there. It’s obvious.…

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Reflections from Day 4

Day 4 Reflections

Author: Timothy Deenihan

It can be a challenge to be introspective when you’re on something of a forced march.


That’s not a complaint, by the way. I have to say, and say emphatically and clearly, how impressed I am with the University for how they have managed to pull this off. Let me take a moment to explain.


We have 32 pilgrims walking and cycling from Vincennes, Indiana, through miles of corn fields, gravel roads, small towns, covered bridges, and highway intersections, to South Bend. It’s 317 miles and we’re on a schedule which, by the end, is down to the minute.…

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Reflections from Day 3

Day 3

Author: Timothy Deenihan

I believe I mentioned that the days on the Trail are all themed. So far, we’ve had Faith, Compassion, and Gratitude. Today is Stewardship, a topic which is important to me and which I’m going to totally ignore. If I had any Patience (that’s tomorrow) I’d save what I’m about to write for Saturday, which is Joy. But I’ve never been one for Patience and I’ve always been one for Joy, regardless of when it shows up.…

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Reflections from Day 2

Day 2

Author: Timothy Deenihan

When my wife confirmed that our suspicions were correct and that we were, in fact, expecting our second child, I knew that my first reaction was supposed to be one of joy.


It wasn’t.


The first thought to go through my mind, hearing that we were expecting again when our first daughter was only eighteen months old, was “I don’t know that I want to be that tired again.”…

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Reflections from Day 1

Day 1

Author: Timothy Deenihan

I spent the day walking, wondering what I should write. Wondering what I could write.


Whereas in the weeks leading up to this pilgrimage my assignments were laid out for me, contacts and introductions and interviews in a structured (if not formal) manner, today was just the road. It was conversations and eavesdropping. It was chatting. It was silence and solitude. It was time to reflect on not knowing what to think about. And it certainly didn’t feel like I had anything worth saying.…

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Jl Pat

Author: Timothy Deenihan

I’ll tell you right now I’m not going to tell you everything I want to tell you. No way. No can do.


Day one – hour one – and I’m seated between the guy who gave up his spot to dress for the ’75 Georgia Tech game to Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger on my right and a fresh faced 2017 Chinese and Pre-Health grad whose actual name is JesusisLord on my left.…

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Opening Mass Homily


Author: Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

St. Francis Xavier Cathedral
Vincennes, Indiana

We begin today our pilgrimage, following the steps of Fr. Sorin and his companions from Vincennes—in 1842 the largest city in the state—to a plot of land some 250 miles north, near the south bend of the St. Joseph River. I thank you and admire you brave souls who are making this trek. You are worthy successors to an intrepid French priest who was determined to found a school dedicated to Our Lady.…

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Faith, Life, and Other Uncertainties

Path With Trees

Author: Timothy Deenihan

As we’re all grown-ups here, can we begin by acknowledging that faith – by definition – is unprovable? Faith is not science. Faith is, in fact, quite the opposite of science. That’s not to diminish faith – not at all – but only to embrace faith’s inherent uncertainty. Science is what one comes to know through proof. Faith is what one believes in the absence of proof. Not knowing

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Unauthorized Pilgrim Profile: Terry Wilkin ('92)

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Author: Timothy Deenihan

My former roommate is proof that you should always think of your physician as the responsible, professional medic they are now – and not the college kid they were when, for example, Terry Wilkin (’92) showed up to Moriarty’s Pub dressed as an exceptionally well-endowed Lady Di. It was the London Program Hallowe’en party, sure, but honestly, the photographs I have in my possession should guarantee me free healthcare for life.

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Pilgrim Profile: Brother Larry Stewart, C.S.C., (’60/’61)


Author: Timothy Deenihan

I’ve been hearing about Brother Larry Stewart, C.S.C., (’60/’61) from the very start of my involvement with the Notre Dame Trail. He’s the sort of man who leaves an impression. In 1997, he celebrated his 40th jubilee as a Holy Cross brother by cycling across the country, sea to shining sea. In 2007, he celebrated his 50th jubilee by doing it again. This year, when considering how to mark the occasion of his 60th jubilee, he jumped at the chance to walk the 300-plus miles across Indiana in the footsteps of Notre Dame’s founder, Father Edward Sorin. Brother Larry is 80 years old. “But I don’t look my age,” he is quick to reassure me. “People tell me that all the time.” Why am I not surprised?

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T-minus 31


Author: Timothy Deenihan

It’s thirty-one days until the core pilgrims set out from Vincennes to start the long walk to Notre Dame, and I wanted to mark the t-minus-one-month mark somehow. But, frankly, I’m just not in a philosophical mood today. The week gone by has me kind of thinked-out.

So instead I’ve decided to share with you the sort of train of thought that rolls through my head as I knock out the miles that used to be “training” and are now just “how I live these days.” There’s no particular rhyme or reason or bigger meaning, so don’t bother looking for one. Just thoughts bouncing around like the little white dot on your old tv in a game of Pong.…

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Pilgrim Profile: Pat Hellman (’63)


Author: Timothy Deenihan

If it’s easy for me to feel proud of myself, walking and biking as much as I am in preparation for the 317 miles I and the other core pilgrims will cover in August, the bubble of my pride deflates quickly when I talk with someone like Pat Hellman (’63). We speak on a day he has completed a 27-mile bike ride as part of his training. The preparation seems to be going well – it reminds the 75-year-old of the last Iron Man race he was in. “Your last Iron Man?” “Oh, yeah,” he says. “I’ve done a few.”

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Pilgrim Profiles: Patrick J. O’Malley III (’84) and Christine Ann Silva O’Malley


Author: Timothy Deenihan

In his 2016 Laetare Address, Vice-President Biden explained how his “grandpop” had played for Santa Clara in the early part of the last century and how he always resented the team being referred to as “the Notre Dame of the west.” The Irish, the proud Bronco had insisted, were in fact “the Santa Clara of the midwest.” Well. That being said...

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Pilgrim Profile: Mark Alexander (’80)


Author: Timothy Deenihan

Brace yourselves. By the time Mark Alexander (’80) and I get back from our two weeks walking the Notre Dame Trail, we will have the world set to rights. We will have it all sorted out. We got this. There’s a lot to say about Mark. He’s one of those people who make things happen. I didn’t ask about his sleep schedule, but it’s got to be pretty thin.

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60th & Greenwood


Author: Timothy Deenihan

My wife and I describe ourselves as tumbleweeds. We celebrated our 23rd anniversary last year by her kissing me at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut as I boarded a plane for Seattle where I would spend the next week hoping to secure a new place for us to live out here.

We had no reason to be moving to Seattle. We had no connections in Seattle. We had no work in Seattle. When people ask us why we chose Seattle, I tell them “because we had never been to Seattle and thought ‘Why not?’” Life was some version of normal in Connecticut. Our youngest daughter was a junior in high school. We were both working. No one was looking for us to leave. Everything was, by all measures, normal, stable, and good.…

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Pilgrim Profile: Stu Fortener (MBA, ’97)

Stu Fortener

Author: Timothy Deenihan

Stu Fortener (MBA, ’97) strikes me as the good guy in the group. The Clark Kent, saying things like “gosh” and “heck” and apologizing repeatedly – often in back-to-back sentences – for giving me answers to my questions which very sweetly he worries I’ll find boring. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He speaks rapid fire in those sentences before those apologies – I’m hard pressed to think of anyone I’ve ever met who talks faster than Stu. Perhaps he’s trying to get through what he worries I won’t be interested in as quickly as possible. Perhaps that’s just how fast his mind works. Perhaps both.

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