Romy and Dorothy Hammes


Romy and Dorothy Hammes are known for their contributions to the University of Notre Dame, most notably as the benefactor of the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, but you may not be aware of their enormous generosity to Catholic causes everywhere. The January 1951 Kankakee Journal tells the story of how Mr. and Mrs. Hammes received the highest homas the Catholic Church can give to laymen: 

"The honor of Knight of St. Gregory, conferred last week upon Romy Hammes of Kankakee by Pope Pius XII, is greater than many laymen appreciate. Not more than 100 men in the entire world may be accorded this knighthood, established in 1821 by Pope Gregory XVI. . . . "Mrs. Romy Hammes has been accorded the medal, "Pro Esslesia et Pontiface," in recognition of her services to the Roman Catholic church. The awards were announced by the most Rev. Martin D. McNamara, bishop of Joliet diocese. . . ." - Kankakee Journal, 1951. 

But what inspired the Hammes’s faith and generosity? Romy summed it up in a 1970 Kankakee Sunday Journal interview: "'About 20 years ago I decided to take the Blessed Virgin in as a partner,' said Romy, 'I decided to give her 25 percent of whatever I earned. After all, where do you get your good health and good fortune but from the Lord, and you must do something in return.'" Hammes's philanthropic and business projects embraced countries around the world as well several cities in the United States. They ranged from erecting a high school, church and bank building in Las Vegas and a resort hotel in Honolulu, to contributing to the establishment "of schools, orphanages, hospitals, living quarters and missions from Hong Kong to Africa."