Feb 26, 2016, 11:01 AM EST
As the University of Notre Dame community commemorates the one-year anniversary of Father Theodore Hesburgh’s passing, the Monogram Club would like to share some reflections of Father Ted from its members.
“In the middle of our freshman year, my roommate, Pat Novitzki, and I were heading to the rink for a Friday hockey game against Michigan State. As they were ranked number one in the nation at the time, we decided a trip to the Grotto was in order. We were freshmen and had barely cracked the lineup, so we were certainly not household names on campus. We were heading along the sidewalk behind the Basilica when we glanced up and saw a priest heading our way. In his deep, unmistakable voice, Fr. Ted looked up at us and said, ‘Good luck in the game tonight, Pat and Dave’. We walked a couple steps before we dared to look up and asked each other if that was who we thought it was! But then we recalled at freshman orientation that Father Ted had said it was his goal to get to know each and everyone of the class of ’72 before we graduated. At the time we only wished to believe that wasn’t just another pep talk, and only talk. Neither of us will ever forget that night. He was truly a great man. Oh, by the way, we won the game!!”
– Dave Howe (’76, hockey)
“Father Ted came to see me after my dad died my freshman year and it meant the world to me. The players and Coach (Kevin) Corrigan were incredibly supportive to me and I felt like I was part of a bigger family. I can’t tell you how much that affected me in a positive fashion.”
– Charles A. Lonsdale Sr. (’93, lacrosse)
“I, like many, was so moved by Father Hesburgh’s passing. It marked not only the end of a great earthly life, but also in my mind the end of an era at Notre Dame. No longer will he be a presence on campus, on the 13th floor of the library, no longer can we hear directly from him, but we will carry on in his traditions, his teachings, and his example.
I only had brief encounters with Father Hesburgh. I wasn’t lucky enough to spend a great deal of time with him, but just meeting him alone was certainly lucky enough. My senior year of college in 2000-01 I was the captain of the rowing team. We were a young team, both in the fact that we were the newest varsity team on campus (only three years old) and age-wise, as we only had three or four seniors on the team. Being a new team we hadn’t had a very large budget, but my senior year we were granted a larger budget and, for the first time, we were able to purchase some of the best quality racing shells. Purchasing a shell is an important thing for a crew. It’s exciting because you feel you will race faster, and there is a naming tradition. Shells are often purchased with funds given by alumni donors, so they generally name the shell, but since the money came from our University budget, many on the team thought that we would get to vote on a name. Many teams name boats after vicious animals or inspiring phrases, so we were all thinking of suggestions. One morning, Coach Martin Stone came into the boathouse and announced that he had names for our racing shells. Our first two eights were named the Father Theodore M. Hesburgh C.S.C. and the Father Edmund P. Joyce C.S.C. Let me tell you, those are unusual names in the rowing world when you are racing against shells with names like “Apocalypse”, “Thor’s Hammer”, or “Relentless”. But we were an unusual team – we were physically smaller than most and the team was comprised almost completely from walk-ons. Coach Stone explained that since the University purchased the boats he felt it was the right thing to name them after University stalwarts. How right he was.
A few weeks later, before we started the season, Coach Stone announced that we would christen the boats, a rowing tradition, and it would be at halftime of a men’s basketball game. Father Hesburgh and Father Joyce would be there and they would bless the boats. Everyone on the team was excited because it was a rare thing to get public recognition on campus for our efforts as a team. Rowing, as a sport, does not lend itself well to big headlines or big crowds, so we were thrilled that the athletic department was hosting this event on what we felt was the biggest stage we’d been on. The whole team was quite proud that day as we brought the boats out onto the basketball floor, I think the crowd was a bit confused, but we were never more proud. I was lucky enough to present Father Ted Hesburgh with a photo of the team in the racing shell named for him at that event.
I am proud to say we rowed his namesake shell to many victories in the spring of 2001. I feel proud that we put every ounce of effort and sweat and sportsmanship into that boat. Looking back I’m even more impressed that Coach Stone had the insight to name our shell after Father Hesburgh. Among all the names a boat could have, his name rises above the others for what he accomplished, what he stood and fought for, and who he was.”
– Claire E. Bula (’01, rowing)
“When I was a student I ran into Father Ted. He said, ‘I hear you are a pretty good baseball player.’ I was astonished that he knew I even existed. With all his responsibilities he kept a close pulse of campus life.”
– Ed Lupton (’65, baseball)
“While attending Notre Dame from 1956 thru 1961, I married after my sophomore year, and my wife, Roseanne, and I were fortunate enough to secure housing in Vetville, right on the edge of the Notre Dame campus. For the next three years, while I completed my undergrad and graduate degrees, Father Hesburgh was a frequent visitor, and his presence in our little village was so inspirational. He was so interested in all, especially the little ones, of which there were plenty.
When we graduated, and received our degrees, needless to say it was epic. However, not to be overlooked, Father Hesburgh made certain to give each one of the wives a diploma as well so as to honor their successful completion of participation in this endeavor. This was truly a most memorable, very meaningful, and most treasured occurrence. Roseanne’s diploma has always enjoyed a most central placement on our wall of achievements.”
– David Cotton (’60, track & field)
“Our hearts are heavy as we lay our patriarch, Father Ted Hesburgh, to rest. I say ‘our hearts’ instead of ‘my heart’ because Father Hesburgh created the true unity of every member of the Notre Dame family. His passing is a loss to us both personally and collectively. How fortunate we are to be part of the family that he created.
Father Hesburgh’s presidency ended right before my freshman year. As I entered campus that fall, I remember the feeling of promise of a new president, as well as the sorrow at the ending of an era. I admired how Father Hesburgh left on a trip around the world in the fall of 1988 so that Father Malloy could transition to his new role as president without feeling like he was looking over his shoulder. I thought that was pretty brave of him to let go of the place he transformed over 35 years and leave another man to put his own fingerprints on it. It was a true testament to his faith and character.
Throughout my years as a student and alumni, he continued to be a steadfast presence at Notre Dame. There was a peace knowing that he was always there, looking down on all of us from the top of the library, keeping each of us in his heart. He was like a loving grandfather to us all, enjoying the fruits of all his labor. He was a contemporary of my own grandma, also born in May, and as they both aged into their 90s, I would think of them each on their birthdays, thankful that each had made it one more year – two special people that each built a lasting legacy and were fortunate enough to live to see it. My grandmother also attended Mass every day without fail, but as she aged into her 90s, we just couldn’t keep it up for her. It was powerful that Father Hesburgh was still able to say Mass every day, and so perfectly touching that his wish of saying Mass on the day of his death came true.
The stories of his personal relationships with students are legendary. Even though I never met him personally, I felt like I did hearing these magical stories. As a teacher myself, I am in awe of the time he gave to simply talk – and more importantly listen – to the students of Notre Dame and how much of himself he shared with them. I am impressed that he made tough decisions and stuck to them amid controversy. I attended a local celebration of the co-education of Notre Dame and we were fortunate enough to receive a call from Father Hesburgh. Listening to him talk about why he made the decision to go co-educational, the way he could boil down big issues to simple truths, and the compassion with which he spoke was very powerful and I’ll never forget it.
Even in his old age, he continued to be our foundation. Our core feels shaken without him. Notre Dame will continue to thrive and grow because of him, but it will not be the same without him. Our hearts will forever love thee, Father Hesburgh.”
– Jessica Roman (’92, cheerleading)
“I am a 1953 grad and a member of Father Ted’s first graduating class. In early August of 1993 I received a call from the ticket office that my tickets had been returned as undeliverable. I was told that I could have them sent again or pick them up at the ticket office. Since I lived just west of Chicago I chose to drive over and pick them up. With me that day was my daughter Teresa Olson class of 1986 and her son John born on July 29, 1993.
After picking up the tickets Teresa told me she wanted to go to the bookstore. I told her that I would take John and meet her at the Grotto. As I was sitting there saying my Rosary, Father Ted came down the steps on the right side of the Grotto. He spent a few moments in prayer and as he was about to leave he came over to us. I told him I was in his first graduating class and that my newborn grandson and I were waiting for his mother. He asked if he could give John his blessing. What a privilege.
Roughly 10 years later we took John to a football game. Our class had a Mass following the game and Father Ted was the presider. After Mass I spoke to him and reminded him of his blessing at the Grotto. John then received another blessing.
John was a senior at Notre Dame last year and had the opportunity to ask God to bless Father Ted as he returned home to the Blessed Mother and Her Son.”
– Bernie Hester (’53, manager)
“I was lucky enough to meet Father Hesburgh twice during my time at Notre Dame. The second time was with the ND Club of Rochester, but the first was particularly special for me.
On December 8, 2012, I had the honor of presenting Father Hesburgh with a photo collage commemorating 40 years of women in sports at Notre Dame. Running cross country and track for the Irish was such an integral part of my Notre Dame experience, so I was especially grateful for the opportunity to personally thank Father Hesburgh for his efforts in getting women enrolled and competing at Notre Dame.
The presentation was to take place during halftime of a women’s basketball game, so for the first half of the game I had the pleasure of sitting next to Father Ted. I was told to take special care because he could not hear or see well. Despite these obstacles, Father Ted remained engaged in the game, and each time the crowd roared he would ask me the score. As we chatted throughout the game, he repeatedly told me I was beautiful, which I found odd at first considering his limited vision. But I realized perhaps he wasn’t talking about my appearance, and I was truly humbled by his compliment. Having the chance to walk out on that court and honor Father Ted that day was something I will not forget. Even in his later years it was clear he was full of life and love for everything Notre Dame, the perfect example for all of us.”
– Angela Ryck (’13, cross country/track)
“Father Ted was always very thoughtful and gracious. Whether saying Mass in the dorms and taking questions afterward, having a picnic with students in the quad, or joining a pep rally on the steps of the Administration Building. The pep rally I refer to was in the late 1970s before the Michigan game. My friend Steve Muething was the leprechaun and invited Father Ted. He declined. Late into the rally, the doors of the Administration Building opened and Father Ted walked out and told the crowd ‘Jimmy the Greek may know the odds, but I know Notre Dame…we are going to beat them!’ The crowd erupted, Father Ted walked back inside and the Irish went to Michigan and won decisively.”
“My freshman year, a friend’s father was deathly ill. My older brother Mike sat with our friend late into the night. My brother and I noticed Father Ted’s light on in his office as we walked back to the dorm. It was about 1 am. We went to Father’s office and knocked on the door until he answered. We told him about our friend’s father’s condition and asked him to remember him when he said Mass later that day. He agreed then excused himself and went back to work. He did not call security or ask how we got into a locked building in the middle of the night. Later that day our friend’s father awoke from his coma and made a complete recovery. Thank you Father Ted for everything.”
– Dr. Dave Welsh (’80, wrestling)
“While attending Notre Dame in the early 80s, my work/study job was as a campus mail girl. The first stop on my campus route was the old Science Building, which at the time was behind the Administration Building. I had always heard a buzz around campus that Father Hesburgh was never on campus, because he was too busy ‘saving the world.’ Well, to me, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As I rounded the corner of the Basilica from the Science Building, which ran right past the chapel in the back of Sacred Heart, just about everyday, there was Father Hesburgh exiting the Basilica. I believe he said Mass most mornings there. We had many short, but meaningful conversations on my morning mail journeys at Notre Dame, and I will always cherish seeing his kind face and getting to know his gentle soul. Those are some of my most meaningful memories of my college days. Father Hesburgh was front and center and very present to me, and I am proud that he was such a grand ambassador for us to the world. We all know that he did in fact do amazing things all over the world, as he encouraged peace, love, and equality for everyone. God Bless his soul.”
– Jacqueline (Pagley) Lezynski (’83, volleyball)
“I met Father Ted in 1952. I was starting my freshman year and he was named president of the university. I arrived a few days late and was assigned to Lyon’s Hall, which was a sophomore hall at that time. That gave me an opportunity to meet Father Ted when he was walking across the grass from of the dorm on his way to the golf course. I introduced myself, we talked and became friends. We were both from Syracuse, New York. He adopted the class of 1956 and always attended our class reunions. When I received the Dooley Award in 2001 he was invited and wrote me a letter of apology for not being able to attend as he would be at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean in a submarine. I visited him in his office a few times but mostly saw him at different events over the years. He was very approachable and a joy to talk with. We have lost a great human being.”
– Dr. Angelo Capozzi (’56, baseball)
“The passing of Father Hesburgh is indeed a sad moment, not only for those Notre Dame students who had the privilege to grow under his inspired leadership, but to all the private and government enterprises that he helped and influenced throughout the world and throughout the United States. It happened so many years ago that I do not remember the exact date, but when he had to stop in Cali, during one of his trips to South America, he took pains to let me know about it and my wife, Alfredo Domínguez, and myself had the fortune of sharing lunch and a few hours of inspiring conversation with him. It was a memorable experience that I still cherish.”
– Jaime Sáenz (’54, tennis)
“As a student from 1956-60, I probably saw Father Ted a dozen times … and that was at a distance with no personal contact. The tradition as I remember in those days was that undergraduates were not to walk up the front steps of the Administration Building to enter the building. And Father Ted was somewhere past that door and held a position that I considered somewhere just short of being God. I never went there. A few years later I was an airline pilot, and our jet was at the ramp in Mexico City waiting for passengers to board. Out came Father Ted towards our airplane. I was sitting in the cockpit and started doing a happy dance and cheering the situation about more than my fellow pilot could take. He asked me what was going on, and I answered, ‘you don’t understand, I was in that man’s place for four years and my fate was in his hands!’ He was totally unimpressed and replied, ‘well, he let you pass did, didn’t he?’ I came out of the cockpit and talked with Father Ted for a few minutes, and then flew him to Chicago. A number of months later I was in uniform riding in the cabin from LaGuardia to O’Hara heading home, and just before departure, in walks Father Ted, and he said ‘hello Gale’ and sat down beside me. I was stunned that he remembered my name. We chatted most of the flight to Chicago.”
– Galen Cawley (’60, cross country/track)
“I was a freshman at Notre Dame in 1967. I had arrived for the first time on campus just a couple days prior to starting freshman football and was trying to get acquainted with the layout of the campus. Being somewhat overwhelmed, I thought I would try and find my way to the Grotto one evening and say a few prayers. I was totally lost and was standing by Sacred Heart Church when a priest came walking by. He obviously could see I was lost and he asked if I needed help. I explained that I was trying to get to the Grotto, but could not find it. He said that he would take me there and did so. We talked for a while as he wanted to know about me and how I got to Notre Dame. After a fairly long conversation he wished me well and left. I had no idea who this priest was until a few days later when this priest was being interviewed on television and was introduced as Father Theodore Hesburgh, President of the University of Notre Dame. I had numerous conversations with Father Ted over my years at Notre Dame in both the university setting as well as a member of the football team. He was always willing to take time to talk and was genuinely interested in what I had to say. He was truly a good man and will be greatly missed!”
– Thomas W. Gasseling (’71, football)
“My son Eric graduated in 1997 from Notre Dame. He was very involved with the Center for Social Concerns. With Father Miscamble’s guidance he put together a plan to spend part of the summer between junior and senior years working with the poor in Chile, if he could raise the funds for airfare and expenses.
Eric contacted Father Hesburgh who was anxious to hear about his plans for social work in South America. Eric met him at his office and had a nice person-to-person conversation with him. As a result Father Hesburgh helped fund Eric’s trip either from his personal funds or from some related account.
Bottom line: Father Hesburgh loved the students and wanted to help them in their work to make the world a better place. Eric went on to join the Peace Corps and spent over two years in Nicaragua. He returned home and got a masters in social work and is now a principal in a low-income school in St. Paul with many Hispanic and Southeast Asian students.”
– Keith Bradley (’66, track & field)
“I was fortunate to have Father Hesburgh as my freshman hall rector in Farley Hall in 1948. It was Father Ted (at our senior prom dance) who told me and my future wife of 61 years that I was awarded the Byron V. Kanaley student-athlete award. I was a fencer not a football player. I know he was responsible for my getting the award. I never got to say ‘Thank you, Father’. Now I have.”
– Jim Walsh (‘52, fencing)
“One of the many facets that make the legacy of Father Ted so extraordinary was how much time he spent with the countless, everyday people he encountered and the impact he made on them. I had such an experience in August of 1957. My parents had driven me to Notre Dame for my senior year and the start of football practice as a student manager. As we walked toward the campus, a black Oldsmobile pulled up alongside of us, and the driver asked where we were going – it was Father Ted. When he heard that we were heading to Sacred Heart Basilica for Mass, he not only offered a ride, but asked if we would like to join him for a private Mass in the crypt of Sacred Heart. It was so special to have Father’s Mass dedicated to my mom and dad, who made it possible for me to attend Notre Dame. Father Ted touched our lives with a forever memory of his thoughtfulness. Thank you Father Ted. Rest in peace.”
– Marty Allen (’58, student manager)
“During my time at Notre Dame, I saw Father Ted from afar on many occasions. However, I did have one opportunity to meet him up close and personal.
I was flying back from a med school interview in Philadelphia, and I was running late and barely made it to the plane before they closed the doors. I took my aisle seat, but didn’t even have time to look around before the plane took off. As we hit cruising altitude, I looked to my left and noticed that the man sitting beside me was wearing black trousers; glancing a little higher, I noticed that he was also wearing a black shirt and black jacket – a priest! Finally, I turned completely to face him, and realized that it was Father Ted! In the middle seat! In coach!
Flabbergasted, I introduced myself and we had a nice chat on the way back to South Bend. When we arrived back in South Bend, Father Ted offered me a ride back to campus, but as I had already made arrangements for friends to pick me up, I declined (my friends told me I was nuts!). Still amazed that a university president, and one of the most famous priests in the country, would be flying back home the same way as a student – what a humble man!”
– Tim Heilmann (’79, manager)
“My freshman year, 1982, I was at the bookstore in December to buy a book written by Father Hesburgh for my mother for Christmas. As I’m standing in line at the cash register, who should walk into the bookstore but Father Ted himself. Of course he didn’t know who I was, but I stepped out of line and walked over to him, introduced myself as a Notre Dame freshman, and asked him to sign the book for my mother. I figured just his signature would be magical for my mother, but Father Ted took five minutes to not only sign the inside cover, but to write a few sentences and talk with me about my early experiences at Notre Dame. After our conversation, as he was walking to get whatever he came to the bookstore to get, I just shook my head in amazement at how much time Father Ted bothered to take with a freshman like me who he didn’t even know to write some nice words to my mother he obviously didn’t know. For Father Ted, that was just another way of doing the little things to make someone feel special at Notre Dame; for me, it remains one of my most treasured moments of my four years at Notre Dame, and represents what Notre Dame really is all about.”
– Michael James (’86, football)