Note Dame was my grandfather’s favorite college. He faithfully rooted for the Fighting Irish, listening to their games on the radio during the glory years of Knute Rockne and The Gipper that built the little school from Indiana into a powerhouse.
As a result, they’ve always held a special place in my heart, even though I didn’t attend the school myself.
For many years, Father Hesburgh was the public face of Notre Dame. He was President of the University from 1952-1987, retiring the year that I graduated from high school. His many works for social justice, including pperonal support of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., landed him on the cover of TIME Magazine and earned him the prestigious U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The University’s library was named for him. He kept an office there in later years. In 2006, I sent a letter to Father Hesburgh in care of the Father Hesburgh Library. (How often is someone’s name the same as their mailing address?)
He was gracious enough to reply, sharing words of advice that resonate with me to this day.
This is what Father Hesburgh had to say:
Thank you for that wonderful letter. I have just the advice you need.
All of my life I have realized that we need special inspiration from God to do what He wants us to do – to enlighten us about that and give us the strength each day to carry it out.
I have found that, after more than sixty years as a priest, the best I can do in beginning each day is to pray a very short prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit”. That puts you at the disposal of the Spirit for all the inspiration and strength you need.
I also find that through the day, whenever I face a problem which seems to have no answer, I simply pray, “Come, Holy Spirit”. The answer becomes apparent and I think I have the right words to say to the person with the problem.
This is also a great prayer for your personal life. There are many options we all have in life and, as we face them, it is important to pray, “Come, Holy Spirit”, so that we will know the right things to do and we will have the strength to do it. The Spirit brings us both the inspiration and the strength.
I hope this is helpful to you and I encourage you to keep up the good life you have begun. I know, with the help of the Holy Spirit you will have great fruits. It will also bring you great peace.
With a daily prayer for you and yours, and all blessings from here,
Ever devotedly in Notre Dame,
Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C.
President Emeritus, University of Notre Dame
What an amazing human being. He will be missed physically, of course, but Father Hesburgh’s presence will always be felt at Notre Dame and beyond, by their many fans around the globe, myself included.
I’m sure that he and my grandfather will be having some nice chats as they enjoy eternal life basking in the perpetual light of God’s love.