The Impact of Education

The Hon. Pascal F. Calogero, Jr., J.D. ’54, H’91, received the St. Ives Award at the College of Law Alumni Luncheon. The following are his remarks.

I graduated from Loyola Law School in 1954, a day filled with excitement about building a legal career. I could not then have imagined that I would be here today, more than half a century later, accepting such an honor as the St. Ives Award from the Loyola Law Alumni Association. Nor could I have imagined then, on the eve of becoming a lawyer, how that sense of excitement about practicing law would propel me through a legal career spanning 59 years, including 36 years as an elected justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, and now having returned to private law practice.

As I reflected on the honor you present today with the St. Ives Award, and also on the honor of having received Loyola’s Integritas Vitae Award in 2008, I thought I would take this opportunity to speak about Loyola’s contribution to my life and career—which may perhaps spark some parallels with your own experiences at Loyola.

So, have you heard the one about the cleric, the baseball player, and the police officer? I’ll tell it to you. See, I owe my career path to the insistence of my father, a cop, and to the intervention of Br. Martin Hernandez, the principal of my high school for four years (St. Aloysius in New Orleans). And, yours truly, I would be the baseball player—with big league ambition as a kid, one with limited baseball talent.

My father was a New Orleans police officer with formal schooling through the fourth grade. My mother, an Irish and German lass, was the granddaughter of an Algiers grocer. My grandmother, Mary Weigman Moore, told us how the Union troops at the end of the Civil War came through the grocery store and destroyed the interior, by among things, rupturing molasses barrels and sacks of flour. What a mess—that was what she often told us.

I was raised in downtown New Orleans, educated in a New Orleans public grammar school (C. J. Colton) before attending St. Aloysius High—which is now known as Brother Martin High School.

Although I harbored the ambition to be a baseball player—second baseman—or perhaps an accountant like my big brother Jack, my father insisted that I pursue the law. Incidentally, when baseball coach Jack Orsley invited me to join the baseball team, and I would have had to drop a three-hour course in my pre-legal studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, my father offered me the option of finding another place to live.

On the morning of my high school graduation, Br. Martin took me aside and told me that the school would announce that I had been awarded a college scholarship to Tulane—imagine!—But, in fact, I would not be going to Tulane, because Brother Martin had decided I should continue my Catholic education by attending Loyola instead. Incidentally, this development was because the number one student in our class, and the only other scholarship recipient, had decided to become an Oblate Priest, an order that ran St. Louis Cathedral Parish Church, but he did not want that news about his going off to join the priesthood revealed on the night of his high school graduation—perhaps because of his girlfriend or something like that.

That path to Loyola included a generous scholarship to accomplish a tremendous education, including the Jesuits’ influence on building moral values, with an emphasis in law school on social justice. Without Loyola’s influence, it’s not likely that I would have so quickly and steadfastly grown beyond my childhood environment—a segregated South—to understand the civil rights challenges facing Louisiana and the urgent need for change and improvement in our state. I especially want to highlight the teachings of Fr. Fichter and Fr. Twomey, the Jesuit priests who were pushing ahead on matters of civil rights and racial integration, far ahead of many of the parishioners at Holy Name of Jesus Parish, the church right there besides Loyola’s campus. I remember well how I was entranced by Fr. Twomey’s law school course on “jurisprudence,” which might more properly have been described as “social justice”—exotic, exciting ideas to this kid from St. Roch and Dauphine Streets—two daily street car rides—for five straight years, the Desire or Gentilly street cars to Canal Street and the St. Charles streetcar to Loyola.

Also, my education was broadened even further, thanks to Loyola’s having enrolled not only me, but also my fellow students Moon Landrieu and Charles Kronlage (these two would later become my law partners)—one from Jesuit, St. Aloysius, and Holy Cross High Schools—as well as Norman Francis and Ben Johnson (Norman and Ben were two black students who were admitted to Loyola Law School after our law class had finished its first year).

Thinking about new things with new people is, I think, what a good education must be. Without Loyola’s scholarship, it’s unlikely that I would have been able to obtain a law degree. And, without that law degree, I wouldn’t have been able to advocate for justice for my clients, or participate as a justice in thousands of Louisiana Supreme Court decisions, including personally authoring more than 1,000 majority opinions, or foster improvement of Louisiana’s administration of justice for its four million citizens. While it’s tempting to ascribe my path and its successes to fate (or simply good fortune or plain luck), I think it’s better to invoke the Jesuit principle of being self-reliant while contributing to the community. And, always, I have strived—perhaps imperfectly at times—to balance mind with heart.

Just as Mother Teresa said, when we work hard all day long it sometimes feels that we are only a drop in the ocean. But, as she said, if our individual drops were not in the ocean, then the ocean would be dry. I feel the same way not only about my career but about the power of our alumni association, and our collective contribution to the Louisiana bar. Every drop makes a difference, whether ensuring that Louisiana jurisprudence reflects the constitutional principles of the United States and the state of Louisiana, or establishing a functioning indigent defense system in Louisiana, or improving systems for lawyer performance (through the Supreme Court’s created Disciplinary Board) and influencing judges and controlling conduct (through the Judiciary Commission), or advocating so that innocent persons may be freed (I have been so pleased to support the work of the Innocence Project of New Orleans, whose board I joined after retiring from the bench).

I know that I would not be here today but for my Loyola education and the support of my wonderful family, including my lovely wife and my 10 children, almost all of whom are in attendance here today. Only absent are my oldest son, David, who is a Lafayette, La., lawyer and busy today with his practice, and my two youngest daughters, Katie and Chrissy, who are respectively a lawyer practicing in Washington, D.C., and a student who is today away taking an exam at her law school in Cambridge, Mass.

While I would have liked to have my whole family in attendance today, I would be remiss if I didn’t insist that they put their academic and professional responsibilities first, especially given that I’m standing up here telling you about the value—and responsibilities—of an education.

See, I believe each of us can draw on the strength of our education and use our minds to make a difference. Our minds lead to our actions. Our actions become our character. And, I think, our character becomes our destiny.

And that’s how Br. Martin’s decision to send the baseball-playing son of a New Orleans cop to Loyola launched the career of this lawyer-jurist before you today. And, by the way, I haven’t retired yet, and I don’t plan to retire while there’s still justice to fight for justice in our state and nation.

I’m not one to exaggerate my accomplishments. But in this case, as you present the St. Ives Award, you’ve done it for me. And for that I thank you.

View the complete spring 2013 issue of Loyola Lawyer.