Notre Dame’s Father Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C., Gets a Postage Stamp

Sure, it’s a priest on a stamp, but look closer. Behind him, see the Golden Dome, the heart of the Notre Dame campus. Atop it is a statue of the Virgin Mary, the “Our Lady” (Notre Dame in French) that lent her name to the iconic Indiana-based university. Aside from her — and perhaps football coach Knute Rockne — few embody Notre Dame University more than Father Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C.

It’s not a Hollywood story, but it’s one close to our hearts, and close to the hearts of all those touched by the Fighting Irish spirit of Notre Dame.

Family Theater Productions is an apostolate of Holy Cross Family Ministries, which is part of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Our founder, Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., was a Holy Cross priest, as is our current head, Father David Guffey, C.S.C.

Notre Dame University is a Holy Cross school. Father Guffey is a graduate, as is Father Vince Kuna, C.S.C., who just joined our staff (and was an instructor at Notre Dame).

So, big Notre Dame news is big news to Family Theater. Today, Sept. 1, the U.S. Postal Service unveils a new stamp honoring one of the Indiana-based University’s most towering figures.

From Notre Dame News:

The legendary career of the late Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., the University of Notre Dame’s president from 1952 to 1987, will be celebrated Sept. 1 when the U.S. Postal Service unveils a 49-cent Forever stamp in his honor at a ceremony on campus. All are welcome to attend.

After the unveiling, the stamp featuring Father Hesburgh with a first-day-of-issue postmark will be available at the Notre Dame Post Office and Purcell Pavilion. Stamps also will be available for purchase at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore.

In addition to his 35-year tenure as Notre Dame’s president, Father Hesburgh’s other notable achievements and accolades included:

  • 16 presidential appointments — from Presidents Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush — in which he was involved in most major social issues including civil rights, peaceful uses of atomic energy, campus unrest, Third World development and immigration reform. In addition to the civil rights commission, other notable appointments were to the Presidential Clemency Board, charged with deciding the fate of various groups of Vietnam offenders; the National Science Board; Commission on the Holocaust; and Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy.
  • Service to four popes, three as permanent Vatican City representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna from 1956 to 1970.
  • Service as chair of the International Federation of Catholic Universities.
  • Election to the Board of Overseers at Harvard University, including two years as board president, the first priest in either position.
  • Service as co-chair of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.
  • The honor of being the first person from higher education to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, presented in 2000, and receipt in 1964 of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
  • Reception of 150 honorary degrees, the most ever awarded to one person.

Father Hesburgh was born May 25, 1917, and raised in Syracuse, New York. He was educated at Notre Dame and the Gregorian University in Rome, from which he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1939. He was ordained a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Notre Dame’s founding order, in 1943.

Following his ordination, Father Hesburgh continued his study of sacred theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., earning his doctorate in 1945. He joined the Notre Dame faculty the same year and served as chaplain to World War II veterans on campus in addition to his teaching duties in the Religion Department. He was appointed the head of that department in 1948, and the following year was appointed executive vice president in the administration of Rev. John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C. At the age of 35 in June 1952, he was named the 15th president of Notre Dame.

FTP also produced a documentary on Hesburgh, called “Father Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C.: God, Country, Notre Dame.” Click here for a playlist of video excerpts. Below is the first one:

Image: Courtesy Notre Dame University

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