Today, while the internet debates whether the dress is blue and black or white and gold and discusses llama drama (this post is going to make no sense in a year), the Notre Dame family is remembering an amazing man.
You can read all about Father Ted and the amazing work he did on the university’s website dedicated to him. He will be forever known as a champion for human rights and for the poor, but also as a very down to earth man who very much wanted to meet and talk with the students he came across every day.
While I was a student at Notre Dame, Father Ted would travel to the various dorms to say Sunday evening mass. It was always special when he came to Badin Hall, my home, since he had lived there and served as chaplain in the 1940’s, following World War II. Badin was where the unmarried veterans lived, and he always told the story about how dedicated these young men were to their education. The students had an official “lights out” time, where all the lights were shut off, but Father Ted’s rooms were not subject to these rules. So after lights out, a large group of men would show up at Father Ted’s door, eager for some additional study time.
To quote from a biographical essay:
Father Hesburgh’s public service was extraordinary. It included 16 presidential appointments over the years and was recognized by both the Medal of Freedom, presented by President Johnson in 1964, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2000. These presidential assignments involved him in the nation’s major problems, from civil rights to immigration reform, from amnesty for Vietnam War offenders to global conflict resolution. President Eisenhower appointed him as a charter member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 1957, and President Nixon fired him as its chairman in 1972 after the commission’s “report card” on civil rights flunked his administration. In between these dates came the historic 1960s federal legislation on housing, jobs and voting that broke the back of de facto apartheid in the country. As recently as 1998, Father Hesburgh, in his 80s, could be found inspecting refugee camps in Kosovo for the U.N., and he was a member of the Anti-Incitement Committee set up by the Wye Plantation Treaty to mute Israeli-Palestinian tension.
He was an amazing man, and yet he never wanted to talk about himself and the work that he had done. He just wanted to chat with the students and learn about them and maybe help them along the way.
You will be missed, Father Ted.