Tuesday, October 13, 2009

#56: Father Hesburgh

There are a lot of priests that live and work at the University of Notre Dame.  While some live in the dorms, others live in Corby Hall.  While some teach classes, others work as rectors and administrators.  While some are loathed by students, others are beloved; but no Holy Cross priest is as cherished and revered as the legendary University President emeritus Rev. Theodore M Hesburgh, C.S.C.

Notre Dame Students love Father Hesburgh because he is a living legend.  They dream of opportunities to make their way into his library penthouse, and oftentimes ride the elevators needlessly up and down hoping for a brief chat with him.  They crowd in dorm lounges to hear his stories of American Presidents and Civil Rights leaders and they cherish the pictures they are able to take with him at these events. 

Why, however, do Notre Dame Students love a man whose greatest achievements (besides all of those honorary degrees) occurred before they were even born?  While some Notre Dame Students love Father Hesburgh because he is a really old and influential priest that vividly shares many of his fascinating stories with them, the majority of Notre Dame Students hold such high regards for Father Hesburgh because of his effortless superiority to his successors.

Since Father Hesburgh retired, the Notre Dame community has had the privilege of being led by two men that could never be able to match up to the lofty standards set by their predecessor.  While these men tried (and have been trying) admirably, the Notre Dame Student body longs for the days when SYRs were permitted, liquor could be consumed, controversies were at a minimum, and the football team managed to at least come close to expectations.

Notre Dame Students love Father Hesburgh because he made the university the excellent place that it is today.  Under his leadership, Notre Dame was transformed into a top flight academic school that still managed to field a top flight football team.  He is a great man who used his position as University President to impact change not merely within the Notre Dame bubble, but across the entire country; and Notre Dame Students understand that they are privileged whenever they get a chance to encounter this living legend.

1 comment:

  1. In fairness, Hesburgh really shouldn't be credited with maintaining the football program. He was responsible for ousting Frank Leahy and for nearly dismantling the program before Ara was hired.