A More Perfect Legacy: A Portrait of Brother Ephrem O'Dwyer, C.S.C., 1888-1978

By Spalding, Thomas | The Catholic Historical Review, January 1997 | Go to article overview

A More Perfect Legacy: A Portrait of Brother Ephrem O'Dwyer, C.S.C., 1888-1978


Spalding, Thomas, The Catholic Historical Review


A More Perfect Legacy: A Portrait of Brother Ephrem O'Dwyer; C.S.C., 1888-1978. By Brother Philip Armstrong, C.S.C. (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press. 1995. Pp. xxii, 402. $29.95.)

When in 1943 Father Arthur J. Hope's Notre Dame: One Hundred Years was published, a Holy Cross brother teaching at the university wrote to Brother Ephrem O'Dwyer: "Few pages are devoted to our Brothers whose work made ND possible. That was to be expected. We shall survive it as we survived the [Father John A.] Zahm regime" (p. 281). Brother Ephrem himself had in 1933, when treasurer of the university, expostulated with Father (later Cardinal) John O'Hara, acting president, for having in his annual report to the trustees omitted brothers as prospective beneficiaries of a fund for the training of members of the Holy Cross Order. Ephrem complained also of the way the brothers were slighted on campus and reminded O'Hara that Notre Dame had been founded by Father Edward Sorin and five brothers (actually seven) and that for many years the brothers' efforts had contributed more to the upbuilding of the university than had those of the priests. Such discontent led to the establishment in 1946 of a separate province for the teaching brothers (and coadjutor, or nonteaching, brothers who wished to join them). Brother Ephrem O'Dwyer, its first provincial, was considered by the brothers their second founder.

For ten years Brother Ephrem presided over the rapid expansion of a province that stretched from Massachusetts to California, establishing in the process fifteen new institutions, mostly high schools, and laying the bases for the division of the province into three separate ones in 1956. …

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