Oct. 31, 2008

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame football players will have stickers with the initials “JR” on the backs of their helmets Saturday when the Irish play host to Pittsburgh – in memory of Rev. James Riehle, C.S.C., longtime executive director of the Notre Dame Monogram Club and chaplain to Notre Dame athletics teams for nearly three decades, who died on Wednesday.

The University will observe a moment of silence in his memory tonight prior to the Notre Dame men’s basketball game against Briar Cliff and again Saturday before kickoff of the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh football game in Notre Dame Stadium.

Riehle served as Monogram Club executive director from 1978 through 2002, and then continued to work with the club in an emeritus role. He began as the chaplain for the athletic department in 1966, officially earning the title in 1973. His first football game as Notre Dame team chaplain was the famous 10-10 tie with Michigan State in ’66.

Visitation will begin at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Moreau Seminary on the Notre Dame campus (Douglas Road), with a wake service at 7:30 p.m. The funeral mass will be at 3:30 p.m. EST Monday at the Basilica of Sacred Heart, also on the Notre Dame campus.

“Father was a true Notre Dame man who dedicated his life to his faith and to the University,” said current Monogram Club executive director Jim Fraleigh.

“He touched the lives of thousands of Notre Dame students and student-athletes – and he was the driving force behind the initiatives of the Monogram Club.”

A 1949 graduate of Notre Dame, Riehle earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and then studied theology at Holy Cross College in Washington, D.C., from 1960-64. He earned his master’s in business administration from Notre Dame in 1978.

Riehle was ordained as a deacon at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., in 1963. On June 10, 1964, he was ordained as a priest in Notre Dame’s Sacred Heart Church. His first assignment was as chaplain for Dillon Hall before he went to Sacred Heart Parish in New Orleans, La. In 1966, Riehle returned to Notre Dame as the assistant dean of students and rector of Sorin Hall. He assumed the dean of students post in 1967 and served in that capacity until 1973. For 12 years, until 1985, Riehle served as rector of Pangborn Hall.

Born Nov. 25, 1924, and originally from Saginaw, Mich., Riehle held several posts at the University, including chairman of the board of directors for the University Club (1971-77) and director of energy conservation (1973-93).

In recognition of his contributions to the athletic department and the University of Notre Dame, he was honored with the 2001 Moose Krause Man of the Year Award by the Monogram Club — and the intramural fields located on the north end of the campus (just east of Stepan Center) were named in his honor.

The Monogram Club fund that assists former Irish athletes with funding for their children to attend Notre Dame is named the Brennan-Boland-Riehle Scholarship Fund in his honor.

Formerly an enthusiastic hockey player and long an avid cigar-smoker and golfer, Riehle played the role of Notre Dame football team chaplain in the movie “Rudy.” He also starred in an adidas commercial in which he facetiously asked former Irish quarterback Joe Montana, “What have you been doing since you left the University?”

— ND —