I just couldn’t put this magazine down, and yesterday being Memorial Day, was such a perfect time to read and reflect on the great man. I remarked to my husband that his accomplishments and full life were more like that of 20 people! But what really stuck out for me was what he said, and how he lived his life: first and foremost, as a priest who vowed to say Mass every day.
I loved Father Georgio Di Prizio’s advice to Father Ted, this in his early days as a priest.
“Ted, don’t be too professional…Most think that the faster they get rid of the person, the better the job they’ve done. A good priest will spend time with the person at the door. He won’t be satisfied until he knows why the person rang the bell. Priesthood means service, no matter who rings the bell.”
(Source: God, Country, Notre Dame, 1999)
We sure felt this as Notre Dame students and alumni. He was there for us: our education, our faith and our wellbeing. He was there for so many good causes such as world peace, civil rights, the poor, and disadvantaged. This is also sage advice for anyone in our personal lives and in business, especially in today’s rush, rush digital world.
Another inspirational Hesburgh quote to live by,
“My basic principle is that you don’t make decisions because they are easy, you don’t make them because they’re cheap, you don’t make them because they’re popular; you make them because they are right.”
(Source: What Works for Me, 1986)
Maybe this is why he could make so many decisions, and quickly.
Father Ted never carried bitterness according to former Senator Alan Simpson (Republican-WY) who recalls him saying,
“If you can’t forgive a person, it’s like letting them live in your head rent free.”
That is such a huge part of the human condition: forgiveness. No wonder he was such a successful leader and coach towards world peace.
I am particularly inspired as I am dealing with health issues these days with Father Ted’s credo in facing one’s later years.
“Do as much as you can, as well as you can, as long as you can, and don’t complain about the things you can no longer do.”
Soon before Father Ted died, Father Monk Malloy, Notre Dame’s 16th president visited him. He asked, “Ted, what have you been thinking about?” Father Ted said,
“Eternity. The phrase that keeps coming to my mind… ‘No eye has seen, nor ear has heard what God has in store for those who love him.’”
“The greatest gift a president can give his students is the example of his life.”
(Source: The Hesburgh Papers, 1979)
Right up to the end, Father Ted Hesburgh was a great example to us all, and I feel lucky to have been touched by him as a Notre Dame student and alumna.
BTW, today would have marked Father Ted’s 98th birthday.