Baby Faces

August 7th, 2014 by smorriss

I’m often asked why we don’t put baby announcements in Holy Cross Magazine. The simple truth is that I hate babies. JUST KIDDING! The real truth is that we don’t have the page space to run photos of every sweet peanut that our readers send in. (We do include birth and adoption announcements sans the pics in the Class Notes section, of course.) But when Tony Giordano M.D., ’03 of Saugus, Mass., sent me a snapshot of his new daughter, Francesca, several months back, I saved it so I could eventually share it here. Not only because Daddy-Holding-Baby shots are editorial gold, but because Baby F’s arrival showcases the latest in many “Small Holy Cross World” moments that I hear about from readers. A fellow Crusader, Jennifer Moore Kickham, M.D., ’93, was Lena Giordano’s OB. The parents-to-be even bumped into Dr. Kickham a few months before she delivered Baby Francesca when Tony returned to the Hill for his 10-year Reunion last spring.

And what does the good doctor have to say about all this? “While all deliveries are special, it is a distinct honor when I have the opportunity to deliver a new little future Crusader,” Dr. Kickham tells me. “The Giordanos are wonderful parents and Francesca is so adorable, especially in purple. Go Holy Cross!”

Share your Small Holy Cross World moments with us, won’t you? The Magazine email is (And don’t forget to come to Fall Homecoming, Sept 26 – 28, 2014. Lots of small world moments seem to happen there!)

And for those of you who like baby stats, here are Francesca’s: Born Nov. 12, 2013…9 lbs 8 oz. She’s grown a bit since then, as you’ll see in the crib photo below.

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Rowing Story Creates a Strong Wake

July 28th, 2014 by smorriss

As I’ve often said, a story for Holy Cross Magazine is never as simple as it first appears. The latest example? Our upcoming Fall issue feature on the 50th anniversary of Crusader rowing. On the surface (get ready for a lot of water puns in this post, by the way), the rowing story was just going to be an interview with the guys in 1965 who started it all, followed by a quick paddle through the program as it stands now…both men’s and women’s. But writer Mark Sullivan, dogged reporter that he is, has uncovered layers that we didn’t expect in this piece: alumni who explain how rowing “changed my life,” and how the teams’ chaplain Rev. Anthony Kuzniewski, S.J., finds parallels between Jesuit spirituality and rowing. We also learned that many of the rowers past and present are reading the same book, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown. Now it’s in my nightstand too. I’m learning that the bond among rowers is as strong as a coxswain’s bark (okay, okay, I was reaching for that one), and am pleased to share this photographic evidence sent in by Rick Savage ’84. Rick wrote, “Suzanne, thanks for a great bunch of photographs from the recent reunion, including our (Class of 1984) 30th. There were actually 12 former rowers among the gathered 1984 alumni, and Rowing Coach Pat Diggins ’86 joined eight of us for a quick row on Lake Quinsigamond, during Saturday morning of the Reunion Weekend. We are, (left to right): Michael Kennedy, Stephen Schmeiser, John McGrath, Rick Savage, Andy O’Brien, Arthur O’Brien, Mike Faron and John Gaffigan.”

Thanks to Rick for sharing the snapshot…looks like the crew had a gorgeous day to hop in a shell.


Whoa, it’s been a while.

June 24th, 2014 by smorriss

After “the book goes to bed” (AKA: the magazine pages have been shipped to the printer and are out of our hands), I get a chance to catch up on the tasks that take a backseat when we’re on deadline. But, WOW, I was surprised to find that I had not posted to this new blog since February! My apologies. So much has happened since the last post, not the least of which is that summer has bloomed fully on campus. And one of our favorite photographers, Dan Vaillancourt, captured images that show familiar Holy Cross scenes in new ways. I’ll share a few here, along with a promise not to let three months pass before posting again.

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February 26th, 2014 by smorriss

The alumni magazine is part of the College’s Office of Public Affairs, and many people on campus assume that we have a staff photographer. We do not. That would be lovely, of course, and perhaps it will happen in the future. But for now, the images you see in the Magazine (and on this website, and in all Holy Cross publications) are taken by freelancers, student interns, occasionally one of us on staff or…[pause for dramatic effect]…John Buckingham. John is a member of the AV department, and can be seen at various campus events manning the video equipment or helping Jesse Anderson, our AV guru, with his work in every corner of campus.


But John also has an eye for photos. And he is kind enough to shoot for me when there is a campus event or a student who needs a portrait taken to go along with a Magazine story. Sometimes, when John turns in images from an assignment, he surprises me with a few bonus shots. Such was the case this week, when John attended English Professor Helen Whall’s class to snap some shots for our upcoming Spring issue’s Syllabus page. On the walk back to his office in Stein, John paused in front of St. Joseph Memorial Chapel. It’s a familiar shot for any Crusader, but in John’s new images you can see the piles of snow out front, and get a feel for the steely winter grayness that had lingered on campus for weeks. Are we ready for spring? Oh my, yes.

The Shift to Spring…and Stories

January 23rd, 2014 by smorriss

The spring semester has begun! After a month of almost utter silence on campus, the students and faculty have returned. Once again, Ugg boot prints criss-cross the snow on the Hoval and the line is more than five deep at Cool Beans. Everything is bustling and the quiet that settles in over the holiday break is broken…when you work in the Hogan Center, it feels almost eerie when the students are gone. At first, it’s nice to have more open spots in the parking lot, but by the time the semester revs up again, I am ready to see the place full again. For the Magazine, the happy side effect is that as the campus reaches full population once again, story ideas start popping up in my mailbox.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Some of our best story ideas come from our readers. And I always want to encourage folks to send those ideas to us (if there’s one on your mind, here’s the Holy Cross Magazine email address:

One that has captured my attention this week is from Professor Ed O’Donnell from the history department. He noted that the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is coming up in November of this year, and with so many Holy Cross students studying the Cold War, it might make an interesting peg on which to hang a feature story. I agreed, and started asking around campus and among our alumni if anyone had an interesting story to share about their memories of the Wall coming down. I extend that invitation to you, the blog followers. I’ll eventually be compiling the most compelling tales and memories into a story that will run in the fall or winter issue.

And really, that is today’s “behind the ’zine” tidbit…that all features start with a single idea, and then the process of tugging at the thread and gathering a variety of stories and insights takes its sometimes circuitous route. Only then can the writing begin.


This is a fragment of the Berlin Wall at the Imperial War Museum in London. If you witnessed the Wall coming down, or experienced that world event in some special way, please contact me. I’d love to hear your story.


It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

December 10th, 2013 by smorriss


It’s just about mid-December. A fluffy snow is falling across Worcester, giving our gorgeous campus here on Mount St. James the appearance of a boxed Christmas card. (Don’t judge this based on my meager photo skills, exhibit A above. Trust me, it’s pretty!) It is, as the carol says, the “most wonderful time of the year.” But not for the tinsel and mistletoey reasons you might think. No, dear readers, this is the most wonderful time of year because the Winter issue is at the printer, sluicing across the presses, and we are at the very front end of starting the Spring issue. This is the week when we breathe a sigh of relief that Winter is “in the can,” and all there is to do is await the arrival of the boxes that tell us the magazine is winging its way across the globe to alumni and parents in every state and several countries. And this is the week when all the pages for the Spring magazine are blank, and we get to start filling them with the great story ideas that have been percolating for a few months.

Although the editorial line up is always subject to change, right now I think we’ll be bringing you a touching piece about the alumni who funded a gorgeous renovation of Brooks Music Hall. If you haven’t seen it, get ready for a treat when you see the images we’re going to capture at the big kick off concert Jan. 28. I’m also going to try to do another photographic walk about in Hogan…the last time I did that with photographer Dan Vaillancourt, it was on whim. Frankly, we were just killing time between events that Dan and I were covering. But it turned out to be a neat way to meet a bunch of students and hear about what they were up to…and it gave us a quick and interesting slice of life story. So be on the lookout for that.

We’ll also be prepping a big feature on the 200th anniversary of the Restoration of the Jesuits. I’m learning a lot about our pals in the Society of Jesus as I research this piece. It’s fascinating! And a few of your favorite Fathers are going to be penning parts of the final story, which is going to be a treat.

As always, if you have a story idea you’d like to see in the pages of Holy Cross Magazine, just holler. Email is the best way to reach me:


Down to the Wire

November 18th, 2013 by smorriss

When you’re five days out from deadline, the niceties of office life fall by the wayside. For example, as the deadline hastens its approach, the refiling of any and all materials yanked out of heretofore organized drawers and bins for research purposes ends. Exhibit A: This photo of the editor’s desk today (and yes, I’m using “the editor” so as to distance myself from the fact that I am said editor with messy desk).



So when you are reading your Winter issue, with the touching stories of alumni who volunteer and work at the Nativity School of Worcester and the students who went on a once-in-a-lifetime research trip to Naples with their professor to study the artisans who craft intricate figurines for elaborate Italian Nativity scenes, think of my poor officemates who had to put up with an unsightly mess every time they passed my door. Perhaps blogging about it here will be my motivation for a “before and after” photo gallery in a future post?

I’m curious…are there any Crusaders out there who advocate for unkempt work spaces? Some say it is the sign of a creative mind. Comments (and photographic evidence) welcome!


Halloween Hijinks

November 4th, 2013 by smorriss

Designer Crayon Costume

It’s not all jpegs and editing over here in Holy Cross Magazine land. No, we cut loose a little bit from time to time. Exhibit A: Our creative guru…lord of the layouts…Mr. C.M. Whykay himself…Magazine Designer Stephen Albano. He dresses in costume every Halloween, and this year went for a classic Red Crayon ensemble. Appropos, don’t you think, for an artist/designer?

And now, just like every office across America, we are dealing with the detritus of Halloween: overflowing candy dishes. If I see one more fun-size Snickers I may weep. It’s enough to make an editor leave her Mac, walk down to Crossroads, and buy an apple (gasp!).


Postal Tease

October 25th, 2013 by smorriss

That’s what you all are: postal teases! You see, in the two or three weeks following the “drop date” of any new issue, our mailbox gets a wee bit fuller with envelopes—actual envelopes with handwritten addresses and real stamps in the corners. Sigh…I’ve always been a sucker for a real letter that finds me with the help of a pretty stamp. But I digress: These letters arrive and I greedily gather them in a small pile on my desk. I push aside the keyboard for a few moments of old-school communication. “What will THIS one say?” I breathlessly ask myself (in my head, not out loud. Okay, sometimes out loud). “Will it be a letter from a reader who really loved that cover? Or that Flashback story? Or has a cool story idea we’ve never even thought of?” Hopes run high as the letter opener nudges under the envelope flap.

Then, like a balloon 10 days after the birthday party, my high hopes deflate. It’s not a commentary on our most recent features, nor is it a lead on a story that will end up on the cover. It’s a change of address notice. Sigh.

Of course, I’m  being dramatic here. Changes of address are a part of running a magazine, and we definitely want those notices so we can make sure you keep getting your Holy Cross Magazine. So please don’t stop sending them in. But next time you move, after the boxes are unpacked and tape guns are put away, could you write a letter to go with the change of address? Pretty please? Thanks.

The Giant Pencil

October 16th, 2013 by smorriss

Readers of Holy Cross Magazine have seen a version of this portrait at the top of my Editor’s Page for five years now:


Simple, with a pop of color, right? My hair is combed. I remembered lipstick that day. All that, combined with photographer John Buckingham’s judicious photo shop work made for a suitable editor’s page photo. What you never knew, dear readers, until now, is that I brought a prop with me that day to John’s studio in Stein Hall. The G.P.: Giant Pencil. Here’s the shot, uncropped:



That’s right, folks, it’s a working 16″ pencil that I keep in my office for three reasons: 1. It serves as a conversation piece, 2. it reminds me that no matter what is going on, a good magazine story starts with the writing, and 3. it entertains colleagues’ children who occasionally visit our offices. When people ask “Why do you have that?!” as they often do, I like to say “It’s for writing the big stories.” And of course, the accompanying M.E. (Mammoth Eraser, see below) is for when I make the big mistakes.



Why am I sharing this with you now, after five years? To poke fun at myself, I suppose. Admittedly, I look fairly ridiculous awkwardly holding an oversize pencil near my face while I grin the grin of a person just starting a new and exciting job.  But after five years, I can still smile and say that we haven’t had much cause for using that mammoth eraser. We hope to keep it that way. Thanks for reading!