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McCarthy Center to honor namesake with Centennial Celebration

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March 21, 2016

The quick answer, if someone asked you who Eugene McCarthy was, would be to say he was a politician.

You would be correct, of course. He served Minnesota as a U.S. Representative (1949-59) and Senator (1959-71), and ran for president several times, most notably in 1968.

But McCarthy was more than that. He was a writer, poet, athlete, teacher and coach - and a 1935 graduate of Saint John's University.

Now, the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement is celebrating McCarthy's Centennial (he was born March 29, 1916, in nearby Watkins, Minnesota) with a series of events.

The capstone event is a celebration Monday, April 11, at SJU. At 5 p.m. outside Guild Hall, a gathering will be held to announce legislation to name the Collegeville U.S. Post Office to the Eugene McCarthy Post Office. At 5:30 p.m., the celebration moves to Alcuin Library (upper level) for a reception. Then, at 6:30 p.m., a dinner and program will be held in the Great Hall.

Tickets for the dinner are free and available to the public, but only a limited number of tickets are available. Please RSVP online to JoAnn Matheny jmatheny@csbsju.edu or calling at 320-363-2592 by April 4.

Other events in the celebration include:

  • A poetry contest is being held for College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University students. Poets are asked to write a poem about "courage" or "peace." The poems must be submitted online by March 29.

Judging will be based on poetic technique, effectiveness, style and creativity. Winners will receive a prize, and will present their poem during the reception April 11 at Alcuin Library.

McCarthy started writing poetry in the 1960s. His growing political prominence led to increased interest in his published works. "If any of you are secret poets, the best way to break into print is to run for the presidency," he wrote in 1968.

  • An exhibition, "Eugene McCarthy Coming Alive: Spanning 100 Years as Teacher, Politician, Scholar, Poet, Athlete, Writer" will be on display from April 1-May 8 at Alcuin Library. Materials on display come from personal collections, donations to the McCarthy Center, the archives of the Minnesota Historical Society and the CSB/SJU Archives. The exhibit is free and open to the public during library hours.
  • A documentary, "Eugene McCarthy: I'm Sorry I Was Right" will be shown at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, at Brother Willie's Pub, Sexton Commons, SJU. The documentary was written and directed by Mike Hazard, who will be in attendance at the screening. The film follows McCarthy's career from Watkins to his then current home in Woodville, Virginia. McCarthy passed away Dec. 10, 2005.