Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, past president of Notre Dame, died yesterday at the age of 97. I never had an opportunity to meet the great man, but I attended two events where he was also present. One was a a fundraiser for a South Bend nonprofit where Father Ted spoke. I don't recall the exact organization involved--possibly the Center for the Homeless. The thing I remember was Hesburgh quoting Matthew 25:40--"And the king will answer and say to them, verily I say to you, inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me."
Thanks to the internet, I am able to retrieve the details of the other event that Father Ted and I both attended. This was the 20th anniversary Red Smith Lecture in Journalism on Oct. 16, 2003 at the University of Notre Dame. The lecture was delivered by Frank McCourt, author of the memoirs “Angela’s Ashes” and “’Tis.” One of the things McCourt talked about was how, as a child in Limerick, Ireland, he was enamored of the Fighting Irish football team of Notre Dame--until he encountered an American tourist who told him the Fighting Irish weren't really Irish, but just "a bunch of Goddamn Polacks." I was a little surprised that McCourt told the story in front of God and Father Ted and everybody, but it was pretty funny.