Reflections from the Trail

Reflections From The Trail

Author: Timothy Deenihan

The number of times I’ve been asleep on an airplane and woken up to find a fetching stream of drool down the left side of my shirt is greater than I care to admit. The more tired I am, the greater the likelihood of this happening. Also, I find, the more attractive the person sitting next to me, the more likely I am to experience said affliction.…

Read More about Reflections from the Trail »

Reflections from Day 12

Reflections From Day 12

Author: Timothy Deenihan

​This isn’t over. We have not officially arrived at campus yet, even though we’re staying at the Morris Inn and went to Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and watched Rudy on the giant screen in the stadium and I have another couple dozen pictures of all the landmarks I already have a couple dozen pictures of, each. We have not yet walked onto campus. And that matters.…

Read More about Reflections from Day 12 »

Reflections from Day 11

Reflections From Day 11

Author: Timothy Deenihan

The celebrations have begun.


Yesterday we were joined by the three-day pilgrims, swelling our numbers (if the numbers I am given are correct) by as much as ten times our original core team. We were 32. We became 130. We have grown to something like 300.


What I’m reminded of is a lesson I learned in grade school science – that energy is constant, it simply takes different forms.…

Read More about Reflections from Day 11 »

Reflections from day 10

Day 10 Reflections

Author: Timothy Deenihan

​I’m struggling tonight. So many thoughts are pushing to make their way into words, they’ve crowded themselves at the door and no one can get in.

​My heart is heavy tonight. I’m challenged in a way different from any day on this Trail thus far.

​I’ve been struck all day by the question, "Why?"

​These ten days, this moment in time, has been nothing if not inspirational, but to what end is inspiration enough?…

Read More about Reflections from day 10 »

Reflections from Day 9

Reflections Day 9

Author: Timothy Deenihan

I love crickets. I really do.


Like, crickets are my favorite soundtrack. I’m sitting in my room at the retreat center with the window open so that I can allow a breeze through and I’m listening to the crickets.


Crickets may actually be one of my favorite surprises from this trip back to this side of the country. I don’t hear them in Seattle and I hadn’t noticed their absence until, here in Indiana, I suddenly hear them again.…

Read More about Reflections from Day 9 »

Reflections from Day 8

Day 8 Reflections

Author: Timothy Deenihan

Do you remember being a kid in school – a young kid, fifth or sixth grade – and those times when the teacher would momentarily leave the room for whatever reason, and would warn you that your class had better remain quiet and just focus on whatever busywork was on your desks, and while she was gone someone would whisper something, a question or a teasing comment, and someone would whisper something in response, and the shhsh-

Read More about Reflections from Day 8 »

Reflections from Day 7

Cheif Warren

Author: Timothy Deenihan

I have ankles like a 70-year-old Hungarian grandmother. It’s a bit disconcerting.


I’ve been very fortunate to stay ahead of any injury thus far. I don’t wait to see if something is going to turn into a blister or not. The moment I find myself noticing my toes or the soles of my feet (I mean, seriously, how often do you notice

Read More about Reflections from Day 7 »

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.…

Read More about Reflections from Day 6 »

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.…

Read More about Reflections from Day 5 »

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.…

Read More about Reflections from Day 4 »

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.…

Read More about Reflections from Day 3 »

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.”…

Read More about Reflections from Day 2 »

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.…

Read More about Reflections from Day 1 »


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.…

Read More about Launch »

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

Read More about Faith, Life, and Other Uncertainties »

Unauthorized Pilgrim Profile: Terry Wilkin ('92)

Img 1504

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.

Read More about Unauthorized Pilgrim Profile: Terry Wilkin ('92) »

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?

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

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.…

Read More about T-minus 31 »

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.”

Read More about Pilgrim Profile: Pat Hellman (’63) »

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...

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

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.

Read More about Pilgrim Profile: Mark Alexander (’80) »

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.…

Read More about 60th & Greenwood »

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.

Read More about Pilgrim Profile: Stu Fortener (MBA, ’97) »

Pilgrim Profile: Jim (’81/’83) & Karen Jenista


Author: Timothy Deenihan

Speaking with the pilgrims on the Core Team, the thirty or so of us walking the entire length of the Notre Dame Trail from Vincennes to South Bend, I often feel as though I am about to enter freshman year all over again. There are these people I’ve never met with whom I am about to have an amazingly intense experience and the only thing we all know about each other is Notre Dame - that somehow we are all connected by and to that place and all that it means for all of us. Some of them have lives which are 180 degrees from my own. Businessmen and women. Athletes. Bankers. Some feel as though they are other versions of myself.

Read More about Pilgrim Profile: Jim (’81/’83) & Karen Jenista »

Pilgrim Profile: Lisa Hendey (Bartholomy, ’85)


Author: Timothy Deenihan

If there’s one thing wrong with Lisa Hendey (Bartholomy, ’85) it’s that there’s nothing wrong with Lisa Hendey. Honest to God, she’s one of the nicest people I’ve never met. We spoke on the phone as she was out on a training walk for the Notre Dame Trail and it was immediately evident that my dark, evil streak had met its match in bright, cheerful goodness. It happened like this.

Read More about Pilgrim Profile: Lisa Hendey (Bartholomy, ’85) »

Don’t give up on the kids.


Author: Timothy Deenihan

I’ve been back east for a week and a day. I spent last Saturday flying east so that I could spend the first half of last week shooting the exteriors of a short film on location in Sag Harbor, Long Island, and the second half shooting the interiors at a house in Hamden, Connecticut. I learned a few things this week.

Read More about Don’t give up on the kids. »

Memorial Day 2017

Memorial Day

Author: Timothy Deenihan

Some years ago, when my father turned 90, I was tasked with creating a birthday video. I collected everything I could think of to tell the story of his ninety years on earth – family photos I’d seen, news clippings, family photos I’d never seen, music, family photos from before I think camera were invented…the lot. I’m pretty proud of the result, but the thing that has stayed with me from the project, the part which inspired me and changed my every day ever since, was something I saw in two photos of my dad from his days in the Army during the Second World War.…

Read More about Memorial Day 2017 »

Pilgrim Profile: Chris Golic (Hansen, SMC ’85)


Author: Timothy Deenihan

Laughter is just part of her voice. I can tell that immediately. We’re not even talking about anything yet. We’re just getting through the Hello’s and the Thanks for taking the time to speak with me’s and already I have cheeks aching from smiling so hard. That’s what it’s like speaking to her. She confesses that she’s not been out walking like she probably should, and the trainer in me kicks into gear and admonishes her. She needs to take the walk seriously, I tell her. She needs to not be lulled into false confidence because it’s “just a walk”. The hours on feet thirteen days in a row – particularly in the Indiana summer heat and humidity – are going to be a challenge even for the pilgrims in the best condition. Going into this underprepared will be miserable, if not dangerous. Lace up, I tell her...

Read More about Pilgrim Profile: Chris Golic (Hansen, SMC ’85) »

Pilgrim Profile: Nancy Majerek (Votava, ’86)

Nancy Majerek

Author: Timothy Deenihan

Nancy Majerek (Votava, ’86) and I have a lot of ground to cover. Okay. Sorry. That was a terrible pun. But the truth is, I’ve been struggling with how to introduce her to you.  The conversation I had with her last week covered topics ranging from her role as the University’s Treasury Manager to her experiences in the New Mexico Desert on the Bataan Memorial Death March to the challenges of considering human idiosyncrasies when planning business systems to how she met her husband, Tom, in a volleyball league.

Read More about Pilgrim Profile: Nancy Majerek (Votava, ’86) »

A Change of Pace

Change Of Pace Fence

Author: Timothy Deenihan

I write letters. This shouldn’t surprise you. And of course I know not everyone does. I know, in fact, very few do. What I hadn’t realized – what surprised me – was just how obsolete the practice of writing an actual letter to actually send in the actual post had become. I haven’t been in the practice of letter writing long. It only started a few months ago and I don’t write everyday. So the small handful of cards and envelopes I had grabbed at the Fred Myer here lasted a little while. When I ran out, I stopped into Office Depot on my way home dropping my youngest at school. Finding the inkjet paper and the laser printer paper was a snap. Also the résumé paper and business cards and name tags and invitation stationery for those inkjets and laser printers. What I couldn’t find was paper for writing a letter.

Read More about A Change of Pace »