George P. Matysek Jr. has been a member of the Catholic Review staff since 1997, and currently serves as the assistant managing editor.

A graduate of Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School in Essex, George holds a bachelor's degree in history and writing from what is now Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore and a master's degree in history from UMBC.

A winner of numerous regional, national and international journalism awards, George has reported from Guyana, Guatemala, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary.

Reach George at gmatysek@CatholicReview.org

 

 

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Thank you, Mr. George P. Matysek Jr. for your blog of May 5, 2015, "Mary gets her crown in Emmitsburg." The crowning of the campanile-cum-statue on the Mount of the Blessed Virgin Mary last May, with a huge wreath of silk flowers on her head pointed to her in time, her month of May, as well as spoke of our veneration of her as our Lord’s mother, the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven. In this statuary pose she protectively overlooks the campus of St. Mary's University, whose heart lies in its Catholic identity. However, when I went to the "Board of Trustees Statement on Our Catholic Identity" at the 'msmary' web site and saw and reflected on its four tenets for this Catholic identity, no explicit or implicit mention of Mary was found. One of the four tenets did mention Ex corde eclessiae, the Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities of (now) Pope St. John Paul II, given in Rome on August 15, 1990, The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. That is the only explicit mention of Mary in this papal document. However, quoted from the first paragraph of the Introduction of this document: "A Catholic University's privileged task is "to unite existentially by intellectual effort two orders of reality that too frequently tend to be placed in opposition as though they were antithetical: the search for truth, and the certainty of already knowing the fount of truth"…" We already know the fount of truth, Jesus, through his mother, Mary. Ad Iesum per Mariam. This reality St. Bernadette Soubirous knew through the Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes in 1858, a moment in Church history the Mount commemorates as home to the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes (as well as to Mount St. Mary's Seminary). This reality and commemoration seem justification enough for serious consideration to be given to inclusion of Mary’s name per se in this statement of Catholic identity, for without her none of us comes to true and authentic conversion as the one that Jesus had made each one of us to be rather than that one which each one of us without her had tried to make himself or herself into.

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Thanks, Gwyneth! We all miss him at the Catholic Review.

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Tom Clancy never flunked English at Loyola

It certainly makes for a good story: a scrappy kid from Baltimore flunks out of an English class at what is now Loyola University Maryland only to become an international bestselling author. 

The problem is that the oft-told tale concerning Tom Clancy is just as fictitious as Jack Ryan.

“It was an urban legend that just wouldn’t die,” said Carol Abromaitis, the English professor accused of giving Clancy an F in her class. 

For decades, Abromaitis urged English majors to let others know the truth. Her efforts bore little fruit.

“One major said to me, ‘Of course not. It makes us look smart,’” Abromaitis remembered with a laugh.

Clancy, who died Oct. 1 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore following a brief illness, was, in fact, a friend of Abromaitis and her husband, Mike. The master of the techno-thriller sometimes played war board games with Mike Abromaitis. The couple also served as the godparents of Clancy’s eldest child, baptized at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Baynesville. 

Author Tom Clancy is pictured in an undated photo at his home in Huntingtown, Md. Clancy, best known for works including "The Hunt for Red October" and "Clear and Present Danger," died Oct. 1 at age 66 after a brief illness at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. (CNS photo/courtesy David Burnett via Reuters)

At Loyola, Clancy enrolled in Abromaitis’ 18th-century literature course and an independent study focused on science fiction. The professor remembered her friend as a man with a “gifted imagination” who thoroughly researched his topic before taking on a project. When he showed up for his independent study, she said, he had a briefcase filled with books that he expected Abromaitis to read.

Clancy’s prodigious talent was evident very early on. He wrote a short story at what is now Loyola Blakefield in Towson, bringing it to Abromaitis for a critique when he began studying in college.

“It was just fabulous,” Abromaitis said. “It was about a man-eating tiger in India who had a mutation that made him have a human brain. It was totally fantasy, but it was a really good story.”

When Clancy began “The Hunt for Red October,” his first book, he sent galleys to Abromaitis. She was impressed with the work and soon hooked her husband, Mike.

“I think it was his best book,” she said.

Abromaitis noted that Clancy’s Catholic upbringing was reflected in his characters.

“He had a sense of right and wrong, good and evil,” she said. “He had a sense of the obligation to protect the weak.”

Others who knew Clancy remembered him as a man who always had a keen interest in military matters. 

“I recall planning military strategies with him, playing with little toy figures of soldiers,” said Father Gregory Rapisarda, associate pastor of several Dundalk-area parishes and Clancy’s classmate at St. Matthew School in Northwood and Loyola Blakefield. 
 
Don Lavin, a senior lecturer in economics and business at McDaniel College in Westminster, was Clancy’s classmate at Loyola Blakefield. Clancy was a member of the “brain class,” Lavin said. 

“Those were the 22 or 23 people in our class who were the smartest guys,” Lavin said.

Monsignor James Farmer, pastor of St. John in Westminster and one of Clancy’s college classmates, said his friend will be missed. 

“He was a very hardworking and interesting guy,” Monsignor Farmer said, noting that Clancy made contributions to assist children with cancer. “He held strong convictions and had a concern for people’s needs.”

10/7/2013 11:03:29 AM
By George Matysek