Last Thursday, Fr. Ted Hesburgh, CSC, the president of the University of Notre Dame from 1952-1987, died at the age of 97. Fr. Hesburgh was a giant in Catholic higher education and transformed Notre Dame from a small school known for football to the premier Catholic university in the country, if not the world. My sister graduated from Notre Dame in 2000 and I spent a year there as a postulant with the Congregation of Holy Cross so I have some very small ties to the school. I met Fr. Hesburgh in the spring of 2002 when all of us postulants went to meet him in his office in the Hesburgh Library. I took my picture with him and he signed my copy of his autobiography "God, Country, Notre Dame." I confess that I was very awestruck when I met him.
Fr. Hesburgh inspired me in my Catholic school vocation and I often think of him. He wasn't afraid to make tough choices and he always prayed "Come Holy Spirit" before making them. I started rereading his autobiography last week and pray that God may work through me in my work the way in which He worked through Fr. Hesburgh. There are so many tributes to him online but perhaps the best place to start is the place he called home for most of his life. You can see Notre Dame's special tribute page here.
May his soul, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.