This feed holds batch-released series from Notre Dame Stories Podcasts, documenting the life and work of the University of Notre Dame. Listeners can also subscribe to Notre Dame Stories, which releases single episodes from these series and others in regular intervals during the academic year.
Proving Innocence: Gentle Giant Finally Free
Andy Royer confessed in 2003 to strangling a 94-year-old woman who lived in his apartment building in Elkhart, Indiana. But Royer, who has mental challenges that make him seem childlike despite his huge size, then asked if he could just go home.
Confessions are convincing to juries. Most people are surprised to learn that they are sometimes given by the innocent. Royer was convicted and given a sentence of 55 years. After three earlier attempts failed, the Notre Dame Exoneration Justice Clinic in April won his release after 16 years – the first of what law students and faculty leaders hope are a string of successful petitions.
In Episode Three, we hear about Royer’s legal troubles from his mother, himself and his attorney. But our main guide is former Notre Dame law student Paula Ortiz Cardona, who worked on his case during her three years on campus.
Proving Innocence: Tall, Thin and Black
In Episode Two, we hear the story of Keith Cooper’s 20-year odyssey to clear his name of a crime he didn’t commit in a town he hardly knew.
Cooper tells the story in his words, starting with his arrest in 1997 based on a description of a crime by someone tall, thin and black. Mistaken witness identifications led to a speedy bench-trial conviction and a 40-year sentence.
New scientific evidence weakened the case against Cooper, and in 2006 he chose to give up his claim to innocence so he could help his struggling family. It took another 11 years of struggle to win the first pardon based on actual innocence in Indiana history
Proving Innocence: A Club Becomes a Class
Episode One traces the origins of the Notre Dame Exoneration Justice Clinic’s rapid growth over the last four years. It began as a student volunteer club in 2016 with some awareness and advocacy events.
The students launched into action after a visit from Keith Cooper, the only person in Indiana history to receive a governor’s pardon based on actual innocence, and his attorney, Elliot Slosar. They focused their legal assistance on Slosar’s cases in Elkhart, Indiana, a city about a half hour from Notre Dame’s campus. After recruiting faculty member Jimmy Gurulé, their efforts turned into a class and this year into the University’s sixth legal clinic.
Club founder and first president Tia Paulette guides listeners through this evolution.
Tantur: Hill in the Holy Land - Episode 1: Origin Story
Episode One traces the origins of Notre Dame’s presence in Jerusalem, back to the events of the late 1950s in the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council inspired a warming of relations between various Christian traditions, a movement memorialized by Pope Paul VI, who famously embraced Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in 1964, ending centuries of excommunication between East and West.
On the momentum of that embrace, the pope would turn to his friend in Catholic higher education, Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., to take on an ambitious and unprecedented project: establishment of a center for intra-Christian scholarship and dialogue in Jerusalem.
The task was no small feat to begin with, and many unforeseen obstacles only added to its daunting nature. Not the least of these unexpected turns was the Six-Day War, which literally changed the country in which the institute would be located.
Eventually, in 1972, the Tantur Ecumenical Institute was inaugurated at a spot between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The dream of ecumenical scholarship was born on 36 acres of land that sit amid some of the holiest sites in Abrahamic religion.
Tantur: Hill in the Holy Land - Episode 2: Unearthing the Past
In Episode Two, we explore what may be under the surface of the University of Notre Dame at Tantur. Abraham (Avi) Winitzer, Notre Dame professor of theology, leads a group of students in the first-ever official archaeological survey on the grounds.
Then, Winitzer’s class joins students from all over the world at Tel Azekah, in the Judean hill country. Azekah is most famous for anchoring the theater of one of the greatest stories ever told: the battle of David vs. Goliath. We hear from Notre Dame students, and scholars from Tel Aviv University, on what the past can tell us about the present ... and we encounter a truly bizarre scene in which a tour guide bursts onto the site to give us his own rendition of the David vs. Goliath story.
Tantur: Hill in the Holy Land - Episode 3: The Fifth Gospel
St. Jerome, who famously translated the Bible into Latin working from the same cave system in which Jesus was born, said: “Five gospels record the life of Jesus. Four you will find in books and the one you will find in the land they call Holy. Read the fifth gospel and the world of the four will open to you.”
In Episode Three, we visit St. Jerome’s study in Bethlehem with a group of Notre Dame students in the Holy Land for a summer study program. Their time in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and other key sites in Israel was a transformative experience, and not just in religious terms. “People come here to see the holy sites,” observed University of Notre Dame at Tantur academic director Hannah Hemphill, “but while they see the old stones, they fail to see the living stones, the people who are living in the land today.”
As Notre Dame students explore Israel and the West Bank, they’re exposed to different narratives about the current conflict in the region, and are forced to square the reality they’ve heard back home with the one they’re seeing firsthand.