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Friday, June 14, 2024
The Observer

Current Student Sara Spittler on Fr. Hesburgh

The three hours I spent with Fr. Ted were easily the most worthwhile three hours of my Notre Dame career. It was August before my junior year had begun. I was back on campus early and looking for something to do before my classes began. On several occasions the previous year I had tried and failed to make an appointment with Fr. Hesburgh’s secretary to read to him. Before the masses descended on the library, I figured being back on campus early was the best opportunity to spend time with the Living Legend.

After being denied a slot on the calendar of the Most Interesting Man Alive two days in a row, on the third I finally received the time with Fr. Ted I had been hoping for. The following day, a Saturday, I hurried to Hesburgh Library to read to the man without whom I would not be attending my dream school.

Scurrying into his office, I told his secretary my name. She responded by telling me she would be leaving after I went in with Fr. Ted, and he didn’t have another appointment until later that day so I should just wait until his next engagement to leave. Nervous, I followed her into the office where the man himself sat smoking a cigar. I introduced myself and he handed me the paper to get reading.

Two hours and two cigars later, I was hoarse. We had made it through the Wall Street Journal, The Observer and a chapter of a biography. Fr. Hesburgh sensed that my voice was getting tired of reading, so he stopped me by saying, “That’s enough now. What about you? Tell me about yourself.” So, I explained that I was a double major in theology and peace studies. He immediately responded, “Oh, so you’re one of my girls.” My eyes and heart filled to the brim at the knowledge that the most important man at the University valued my studies.

Without Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, Notre Dame would not be the incredible Catholic institution it is today. I would not have a peace studies institute at which to study. I would not be a part of one of the most outstanding theology departments in the world. In fact, without him, I would never have been able to attend the University of Notre Dame.

Upon hearing of his passing Thursday, my heart immediately broke. I was overwhelmed with grief and sadness, and it has yet to evaporate. I will never forget the time I spent with Fr. Hesburgh. I will never forget the amazing things he did for this University. I will never forget his awe-inspiring contributions to this country and to the world. All I can say now is thank you, Fr. Ted.

Sara Spittlersenioroff-campus

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.