Esteemed chaplain to talk on rights of forgotten

Notre Dame dean-turned- Catholic priest and prison chaplain Father David Link will give a lecture April 9 at Regis University about the rights of the homeless and incarcerated.

The captivating speaker, a noted scholar ordained a priest at 71, will share stories of prison ministry and serving the least and lonely as part of a university lecture series.

The priest also spoke in Denver in December as part of the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Lecture Series. The Denver Notre Dame alumni club invited him back to speak on the rights and needs of the forgotten prison population.

Aimee Bennett, board member of the Denver alumni club, said he’s an effective storyteller who can draw moral lessons from real world experiences.

“To many of us who went to Notre Dame, he’s definitely known as having the longest tenure of any law school dean,” Bennett said. “He was very much an icon on campus.”

Father Link, known by many as “Dean Link,” was a practitioner and teacher of law for years at Notre Dame. He wrote extensively on professional responsibility and ethics for law students. He later became dean of the law school and president emeritus of the university’s location in Australia.

Father Link’s story spread after his wife of 45 years died and he felt called to the priesthood. Volunteering as a chaplain became his full-time ministry when he worked as director of religious activities for the Indiana Department of Corrections and co-founded foundations and homeless centers.

He brought healing and forgiveness to murderers and thieves, who he called “the least of society.”

His biographer, Maura Zagrans who chronicled his life in the book “Camerado” (which translates, “I give you my hand”), said his passion for the homeless and incarcerated comes in part from his belief about life. She said in an interview with Colorado Springs’ Bishop Michael Sheridan that Father Link believes the measure of his life before God will not be what he’s accomplished, but rather how many he’s brought to heaven with him.

Often in his lectures and publications, he’s spoken about how every person can extend a hand to help others, especially to the least among them.

Following his lecture inside Regis’ chapel, Father Link will open the talk to a discussion. Refreshments will be provided. Father Link also gave a lecture in Colorado Springs March 27.

The lecture is free and open the public.

Prison chaplain Father David Link lecture

Title: “Serving the Least, the Last and the Lonely: Discussing the rights and needs of homeless and incarcerated men and women.”
When: 7 p.m. April 9
Where: Chapel on Regis University, 3333 Regis Blvd., Denver
Cost: free
RVSP: to 303-668-9333 or by April 5
Sponsored by: University of Notre Dame Club of Denver

COMING UP: On Fathers and Christian Masculinity

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The Year of St. Joseph points us to Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, as the essential model for fathers. Joseph not only manifests genuine masculinity, he also images God’s own fatherhood, as Pope Francis makes clear in his apostolic letter, Patris Corde: “In his relationship to Jesus, Joseph was the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father: he watched over him and protected him, never leaving him to go his own way.” Jesus, though the Son of God, obeyed Joseph, learned from him, and worked with him, acknowledging Joseph as a true expression of God’s own fatherhood.  

God does not just use fatherhood as an image of himself, because he himself is Father, even within his own triune life. Earthly fatherhood comes forth from him and should manifest his life and love. St. Paul speaks of honoring the “Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph 3:15). God wants everyone to be able to see his own fatherly love and called certain men to share in his own paternal gift of bringing forth life and caring for others. Every father is called to be liked Joseph, “an earthly shadow of the heavenly Father” for his own family. 

Our culture, however, often denigrates masculinity, sometimes viewing even its proper expressions as toxic. We too often see maleness in its fallenness — dominating and selfish — rather than showing self-sacrificial service. In fact, later in Ephesians, Paul speaks of the true vocation of the husband and father: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). He also speaks of the role of fatherhood: “Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Paul shows us the goal of fatherhood — sacrificing himself for the flourishing of the family by putting the good of his wife and children before his own desires.   

No matter what the contrary voices of our culture say, we need strong men and fathers. God created man and woman in complementarity, and they need each other to thrive, helping the other in relation to their own strengths and weaknesses. Children need the strong presence of a father to discipline and teach, as Paul reminds us. Study after study has shown that fathers have the largest impact on the faith of their children. Christian Smith explains in his sociological study, Young Catholic America, that “the faith of Catholic fathers is powerfully determinative of the future faith of their children (125). The same can be said for general wellbeing and success. When fathers are absent or refuse to exercise their role, a moral and spiritual vacuum appears. A strong majority of felons, for instance, grew up without fathers in the home.  

St. Joseph helps us to understand the strength of Christian fatherhood. First, like any good husband, Joseph listened — not just to his wife but also to God. Woken up frequently by angels, he demonstrated obedience and trust, quickly leaving everything behind to follow God’s instructions and to protect his family. We also know Joseph for his work as a carpenter and builder, content to live simply and to work hard. Importantly, he also taught Jesus how to work, showing that fathers model and teach by drawing their children into their life and work. And we can also learn from Joseph’s humility, serving the Incarnate God and his Mother without even a single recorded word in the Gospels.  

This humility points us to the essence of Christian fatherhood. Although living with two perfect people, Joseph was still called to lead. He quietly and humbly did what was needed for his family and taught his own maker how to share in his work. Fathers do not lead in order to be in charge or to get their own way. They lead because God asks them to care for and protect their families. Fathers and mothers share in the great and beautiful partnership of family life, although fathers cannot simply sit back and let mom take the lead in the spiritual life, as they are often tempted to do. Like Joseph, fathers should act firmly and lovingly to put God and the family before self, obeying God and leading the family in the right direction. They are called to model faith, work, and sacrifice to their children. 

On Father’s Day we can affirm that masculinity and fatherhood are not just good — they are essential to understanding God and his plan for human flourishing. If our culture turns around, it will be because, in large part, Christian men stand up and fight. As Christians, we cannot give in to the culture’s attempt to denigrate masculinity and fatherhood or to pit men and women against each other. We can use this celebration to affirm the essential role that our fathers play, leading their families like St. Joseph.