On Feb. 26, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, 15th president of the University of Notre Dame and one of the most influential figures in higher education, died at the age of 97. Friends, family and the Notre Dame community came together to celebrate his life at his funeral held at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on March 4.
Former President of the United States Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, M.A. class of 1975, topped a long list of dignitaries who offered reflections at the memorial service for Hesburgh on March 4 in Purcell Pavilion.
Other speakers included Carter’s wife, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter; former president of Princeton University William Bowen; Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, class of 1977 and Law School class of 1981; Dillon Hall rector Fr. Paul Doyle; former football head coach Lou Holtz; archbishop emeritus of Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick; Indiana Gov. Mike Pence; Board of Trustees member Martin W. Rogers, class of 1988; former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson and former Pennsylvania Sen. Harris Wofford.
University President Fr. John Jenkins described Fr. Hesburgh as a moral force in a statement sent to the student body.
“While serving four Popes and accepting 16 presidential appointments, Father Ted was a moral force in virtually all major social issues of his day, including civil rights, peaceful uses of atomic energy, campus unrest, treatment of Vietnam draft evaders, third-world development and immigration reform.
“Next to Notre Dame’s founder, Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., no one has had a greater impact on the University than Father Ted. With his appointments to the faculty, his creation of great centers and institutes for scholarship and research, his commitment to our Catholic character, an,d most of al,l his leadership, charisma and vision, he turned what was a school well-known for football into one of the nation’s great institutions for higher learning.”