Daniel Berrigan Walt Whitman Martin Sheen Nick Virgilio Edwina Gateley Mother Theresa Thich Naht Hahn Mairead Corrigan Mick Maloney Eugene O’Donnell Barbara Dever Harry Reasoner Othmar Carli Sister Peg Hynes Cesar Chavez Eileen Egan Paddy Doherty Michael Flatley Tommy Sands Lester Conner Father Des Wilson
FAMOUS FACES AT SACRED HEART
It began on a wet, dreary day in January, 1983, when “60 Minutes” producer Elliot Burnstein stood with Michael Doyle in the empty berths of the old shipyard, the graveyard of Camden’s past industrial success. As a journalist, he’d been to Beirut and Belfast, Burnstein said, but he’d never seen anything like Camden. He had come to do preliminary work for a segment on Camden, prompted by a National Public Radio interview of Michael Doyle the previous year.
Intrigued by Camden, Burnstein explored many possible angles from which to tell the tale of the city’s distress. In the end, it was neither the cold pessimism of Camden’s industrial leaders or the overly optimistic hype of city political leaders that Burnstein selected to speak for Camden, but the critical and prophetic perspective of the parish priest in this poorest of cities. So less than a month later, CBS cameras were rolling at both the 8:30 and 10:30 Sunday Masses on Candlemas Day. Sacred Heart’s parishioners held their candles high against the bleak background of Camden. For the next two days, “60 Minutes” anchor Harry Reasoner came to know “Michael Doyle’s Camden,” as the segment would be titled . There was a touch of snow on Camden’s “ski slopes” – the heaps of discarded metal at the scrapyards – and the naked eye of the camera did not spare Camden’s scarred face.
But it also caught the innocence of Camden’s children, as when a class at Sacred Heart School stood and greeted their famous visitor in unison, “Good morning, Mr. Reasoner.” And the tough but buoyant spirit of Camden’s older residents was embodied by Margaret Kelly, who played her piano for Harry and responded to his question about her age with her now-famous quip, “You’re gettin’ up there yourself dearie.”
The harsh pictures of the camera and the vivid word pictures of the priest painted Camden bleak and hard, the victim of an unjust system and unnecessary greed. Camden Mayor Melvin Primas knew of the filming and called Michael Doyle to find out what he was going to say. “If you were on ’60 Minutes,’ replied Doyle, “you’d be selling real estate on the river. If I’m on ’60 Minutes’ I’ll be saying, ‘it shouldn’t happen in America,’ ” That indeed was the message, conveyed loud and strong, when the segment aired on Sunday, March 20, 1983.
From A Heart in Camden for a Hundred Years