Friday night, students remembered the man who made Notre Dame the great institution that it is today by taking part in one of Father Ted Hesburgh’s favorite pastimes on the first anniversary of his death. Standing there in the cold, smoky air, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the friends that surrounded me, for the traditions being born, and for the memory of Notre Dame’s outstanding leader. Being Our Lady’s University, Father Hesburgh understood that women were part of the key to making Notre Dame the great institution that it is. Jim Hesburgh, Father Ted’s younger brother, remembers that Father Ted always claimed “mediocrity is not how we honor Our Lady.” Indeed Father Hesburgh is the reason that I am here, the reason that I have had the opportunity to become the woman I am, and the reason that women have been able to thrive at Notre Dame since 1972. Thank you Father Ted.
Last year, over 9,000 attended the memorial service to pay their respects to Father Hesburgh, and in light of the impact he had in the hearts of the Notre Dame community, Knott Hall and students across campus began remembering him the best way we know how – forging new traditions with one of Father Hesburgh’s favorite past times. He was known to enjoy the occasional cigar, and people often brought them back for Father Hesburgh as gifts. Knowing this, hundreds of students packed together after the memorial service in the cold evening air to light stogies in solidarity with his memory and each other. I was among those who enjoyed a cigar that night, and the opportunity to reflect on the somber yet heartwarming week surrounded by Notre Dame family was a memory I will never forget.
This year, Knott Hall once again hosted the “To Enjoy the Occasional Cigar” event outside of the Hesburgh Library, and it appears to be a promising tradition in the making.
Senior Matthew Biggins of Knott Hall helped plan the event and said that “last year, throughout the week of Father Ted’s passing, the student body gave such an outpouring of gratitude for the man who had dedicated his life to our University. Therefore, the 2nd annual To Enjoy the Occasional Cigar event sought to continue that gratitude in a small way, so that future Notre Dame students who never got the opportunity to meet him at least will have the chance to learn about his legacy and give him thanks for making our home what it is today.”
The event included speeches by his successor and President Emeritus and Father Monk Malloy, as well as Father Doyle, current student body president Bryan Ricketts, and upcoming student body president Corey Robinson. To close, the Notre Dame Glee Club led the fight song and Alma Mater.
Father Doyle of course reminded us how when Father Hesburgh was President of Notre Dame, the joke was that the only difference between God and Father Hesburgh was that God was everywhere and Father Hesburgh was everywhere but Notre Dame. Yet now, even in his death, with the legacy and memory he left behind, I would say that Father Hesburgh is, somehow, everywhere at Notre Dame, smiling and enjoying a cigar in spirit alongside the students he loved so much.
“For all the time he spent crossing the country and the globe, Fr. Hesburgh was at heart a man of the students. It’s very special, then, that the students continue to lead their own remembrances of his life, and his contributions to our school.”
~ Student Body President Bryan Ricketts