On May 17, 2009, the University of Notre Dame, considered by many to be the United States' foremost Catholic University, honored President Barack Obama by making him the keynote speaker at its commencement ceremonies and awarding him an honorary degree.
This scandal was opposed by over 80 U.S. bishops, many of whom argued that in so honoring the President, the university had violated a policy issued by the U.S. bishops that states that Catholic institutions should not “honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”
In addition, literally hundreds of thousands of concerned pro-lifers and Catholics opposed the scandal.
Members of the ND88 travelled to South Bend Indiana to protest the university's honoring of Obama, whom pro-lifers have called “the most pro-abortion President in U.S. history.” In many cases their “protest” took the form of simply walking onto Notre Dame's campus, praying the rosary, and carrying pro-life signs. For this “crime” they were handcuffed, arrested, and thrown in prison.
At the same time, witnesses report that pro-Obama demonstrators were allowed to roam free throughout the campus.
All told, at least 88 of these pro-life protesters were arrested and now are facing charges of “tresspassing” with a maximum sentence of up to 1 year in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The Thomas More Legal Society is representing this group of 88 protesters, who have come to be known as the ND88. Below are some of their names, and brief biographies or accounts of when and how they were arrested. Also included are links to stories by LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) about specific members of the ND88.
Note: This page will continue to be updated as more information becomes available. The list below is only a partial listing of the ND88. If you are a member of the ND88, please contact LifeSiteNews.com here https://www.lifesitenews.com/contact/ and tell us something about yourself and about how you were arrested.
The ND88 are:
Weslin, Fr. Norman
Bramer was arrested on Notre Dame's campus on May 8. He had returned to South Bend upon retirement to volunteer as a tour guide at Sacred Heart Basilica, and has been the most active volunteer tour guide there.
(See LSN coverage here)
Jane Brennan was arrested on Notre Dame's campus along with several others while praying the rosary and holding signs reading “I Regret My Abortion,” and “Silent No More.”
Brennan, MS, is a Catholic and former member of NOW and former Planned Parenthood volunteer. Following her conversion to the pro-life cause, she has devoted her private counseling practice, Hope for the Journey, to offering post-abortive women a safe place to reconcile unresolved grief and loss.
Brennan has said that she went to Notre Dame to protest, because, “I needed to let the students know through my witness that women deserve better than abortion. I needed to let them know that abortion hurts women and that it is never the answer as it will harm you in ways unimaginable. I wanted to tell them what happened to me as a young college student and how much I regretted my choice.”
She also said that, “I honestly didn’t think a Catholic University would have a problem with a Catholic woman coming on campus and telling her story of how her abortion harmed her. I thought they would be supportive. I thought that they would welcome me and want to hear my testimony.”
“How wrong I was.”
In 2005 Brennan received the Pro-Vitae (For Life) award from the Archdiocese of Denver, an award given to those who have shown tremendous support for pro-life issues. Brennan has also published several pieces regarding abortion’s aftermath on various websites, spoken to groups of adults and teens across the country and has appeared on EWTN's Life on the Rock and Father Frank Pavone's Defending Life and Gospel of Life shows.
Brennan has authored Motherhood Interrupted, Stories of Healing and Hope – a volume of testimonies from women who chose abortion and chronicles their jouneys towards God's forgiveness and hope. Jane is the Silent No More Awareness Campaign Regional Coordinator and she volunteers with the Alternatives Pregnancy Center in Denver.
She resides in Colorado with her husband Kyle and four living daughters.
Edward Faddoul was arrested on May 16, 2009 while holding a banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He was kneeling on the ground on Notre Dame's campus, praying the Rosary. The security report from the arrest gave no indication that Faddoul was carrying any specifically pro-life signage. According to the arresting officer, after Faddoul was informed that he was trespassing, he simply “proceeded to pray the rosary,” at which point he was arrested.
On May 16, 2009, George Johnson was stopped and arrested by an NDSP sergeant because he was wearing a red “Right to Life” hat and walking with a group of people who were praying.
On May 1st Kee, a long time member of the Notre Dame Family, was told to leave campus because he was in possession of a baby stroller containing a plastic baby doll covered in ketchup and a sticker that read, “Obama 09, one dead baby at a time. Notre Dame.” When he politely refused to allow his speech to be stifled, Mr. Kee was arrested.
Retired nurse Mary LaFrancis was arrested by an NDSP officer after NDSP put up police tape across the sidewalk to prevent pro-lifers from coming onto campus.
Perhaps the most famous of the ND88, Norma is best known as the “Jane Roe” in Roe v. Wade. A staunch pro-abort in her younger years, Norma later underwent a conversion and became an even more staunch Christian and defender of life. She has said that as a young girl she was used by pro-abortion lawyers who needed a plaintiff to challenge Texas' abortion law. She has now devoted her life to overturning the infamous “Roe v. Wade” decision in which she played such an instrumental part. You can find out more about her story here.
Michael was arrested on May 17th, along with Mary Lafrancis and Ronald Platt.
Seventy-nine year old Joseph O'Hara was arrested at a NDSP officer as he travelled northbound on Notre Dame Avenue, unaccompanied by any group, carrying a pro-life sign.
Ronald was arrested on May 17th, along with Mary LaFrancis and Michael O'Connell.
Robin Reirson was arrested after being told to leave the campus because he was carrying an anti-abortion sign.
(See LSN coverage here)
Laura Rohling was arrested on Notre Dame's campus along with several others while praying the rosary and holding signs reading “I Regret My Abortion,” and “Silent No More.”
Rohling is a Catholic wife, mother and marketing consultant. She has devoted much of her time to prolife causes, and has authored published pieces on the harm of abortion to women and society. She has traveled across the country to give her testimony to adults and teens, and her story is featured in Motherhood Interrupted, Stories of Healing and Hope Laura resides in Colorado with her husband Hank and three living children.
She has said that when she heard that Obama had been invited to Notre Dame, she was, “stunned and frustrated,” and that she “felt a strong urge to be there – to reach out to the students and tell them what abortion does to the body and to the soul.”
While Laura and her friend Jane Brennan and several others were praying the rosary and holding pro-life signs, they were met by campus police, who read a trespass notice and began arresting them. Laura says that the time she ”couldn’t believe what was happening. Catholics were being arrested for praying the Rosary and holding Silent No More signs on a Catholic campus. It was surreal.
“Had my adrenaline not been pumping I would have burst into tears at the sight of it.”
David, a native of Huntington, Indiana, was arrested twice for protesting on Notre Dame's campus. He says that he travelled to South Bend “because I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to pray at Notre Dame for the sanctity of all human life.” On May 8th he went on campus with a group of people who were praying and witnessing to the right to life. He was arrested and put in jail. Then, on May 16th, he went on campus with a group of people who were praying the rosary in procession. After being confronted by a group of people who wear t-shirts reading, “Obama suits me fine,” or “Obama is alright with me,” members of the pro-life group, including David, were arrested.
(See LSN coverage of Karen's arrest here)
Karen Torres was arrested at the Notre Dame Credit Union for holding two small signs that read, “Shame on Notre Dame” and “Obama = Abortion.” At the time of Mrs. Torres' arrest, there was no one else around her except the Notre Dame and St. Joseph County Police Officers effecting the arrest. She was not part of any group. She and her husband were in the process of driving home from campus and decided to stop along President Obama's motorcade route to exercise their free speech rights in opposition to his pro-abortion policies. At the time Karen was getting arrested, her husband Sonny was parking their car.
Sonny arrived a few minutes later to find his wife had been arrested. As he stood watching her being processed for transport to the jail, approximately one hundred people showed up and positioned themselves in the exact location where Karen had just been arrested. Mr. and Mrs. Torres watched in disbelief as this large group of pro-Obama demonstrators proudly displayed pro-Obama signs, without reprisal from, and indeed, with the blessing of, the same police officers who had just arrested Karen. When Sonny asked an officer why his wife was arrested while these people were allowed to display signs in support of President Obama, he was told to shut up, or face being arrested too.
Karen was then transported to the jail, where she was booked and incarcerated for several hours before being able to post bond.
Fr. Weslin was arrested as he walked up Notre Dame Avenue on campus, carrying a cross and praying the Rosary. He was accompanied by several other people who were processing with him in prayer, many of whom were also arrested.
As they processed on the sidewalk northward from the main entrance towards Sacred Heart Basilica, they were met by a group blocking the sidewalk while wearing shirts that showed their support for President Obama. For a time it looked as though the group would not allow the 78-year-old Father Weslin to pass on the sidewalk, but they eventually separated and allowed the praying priest and those accompanying him to process forward.
Shortly thereafter NDSP arrested Father Weslin and the others, leaving the group of Obama supporters to continue to show their support for the President on campus.
Father Weslin has been to prison 70 to 80 times as a result of peaceful, non-violent efforts to stop abortion. He has faced four federal charges for praying on his knees on a public sidewalk in front of a Planned Parenthood killing center.
He is a missionary priest of the Oblates of Wisdom, and was ordained in 1986.