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The saints among us

Kevin Kimberly | Monday, October 11, 2010

In my first three columns, I spent time calling out people — freshmen — to not plague our campus with irregular behavior, dining hall goers to get their act together and the football team to live up to their pledge of always giving 100 percent. I intend to do the same here but in a different light, one not intended to make you laugh but one intended to make you think.

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you have heard about the canonization of André Bessette this upcoming Sunday, Oct. 17. Now, before you write this off as another article or proclamation of the Congregation of Holy Cross’ first saint, bear with me. Let’s make the issue a more relevant one, whether you believe as a Catholic or Jew, Muslim or Protestant, or have no belief at all.

To quickly recap, society saw Blessed Brother André as essentially useless. He was born with poor health, which followed him throughout his life. He lost both of his parents by the age of 12 and became an orphan. He had little to no education, dropping out of school around sixth grade barely being able to write his name. And his biggest official job in life was that of a porter, which is basically a doorman.

Sound like the typical description for a saint? Probably not the best one. But what he did was more important than any description of who he was, and what he did was serve with every ounce of dedication and love he had within him. His job was to direct people arriving at the door, but what he made of that job became much greater than anything else.

Take a moment, stop, and look around. Chances are you are reading this in the dining hall, LaFortune or some public place. See any familiar faces? Probably so. How many of these people would you consider saintlike? Probably not many. But have you ever stopped to think about their service? Sure, what they are doing is, in fact, part of their job, but the commitment they have is outstanding at times. It is sometimes just the smile and question of how you are doing on a bad day; other times it is the immense help they provide when trying to solve another problem. Many times, though, these amazing things people do for us go unnoticed.

So I am taking this opportunity to ‘call out’ those people who, in my four years here at Notre Dame, have struck me as everyday saints. Whether I came into contact with them once, many times or still do, I have always witnessed these people serving and doing their job with the ultimate dedication.

Nancy Walsh, student government office secretary: Nancy could brighten up someone’s worst day and is hands down one of the friendliest persons I have ever met. She is always willing to help with whatever is needed, is always up for a talk, and truly enjoys her work.

Cassandra and Linda, North Dining Hall: These two ladies make those scrumptious pizzas you enjoy at North Dining Hall, and besides making the perfect pizza, they are two of the nicest ladies on this campus. I have always been struck by their great personalities and appreciate their kindness.

Rhonda Singleton, administrative assistant for the psychology department: I have come to know Ms. Rhonda over the years and never once has she not completely helped me out with any academic issues for psychology classes, credits or research. She is a great person and I am lucky the department for my major includes her.

Nancy McAdams, associate director of the Education, Schooling and Society Minor: Though I have never met her, Ms. Nancy has helped me every semester without question in getting my credits scheduled. Through several e-mails trying to sift through the academic guidelines, she has always made sure everything worked out for me.

Dayne Crist: I may not know Dayne Crist personally, but I think his character speaks for itself. As the Notre Dame quarterback, I imagine he has enough on his plate; add in classes and life, and he is probably on overload. Yet he still finds it in him to donate time, money, and hair to charities like St. Baldrick’s and the Riley Hospital for Children (Dance Marathon).

South Dining Hall swipers and door monitors: Some of my favorite people on campus fall under this category, and that is because their sincerity is amazing. Every smile and wish for a great day are said with the most meaning, and I have been touched by their never-ending service.

Student workers at Waddick’s: I have always noticed that the student workers at Waddick’s are some of the best and most personable on campus. Besides putting up with the interesting things any food service job brings with a smile, they do an excellent job running one of the most popular eateries on campus.

Harv Humphrey, coordinator of lectors at the Basilica: Since I started lectoring in the Basilica my sophomore year, I have not met a more organized man on campus. Everything he does is to a tee, and it is impressive. To say Harv is dedicated is an understatement.

Pam, Reckers: I have come to know Ms. Pam through the many late night trips I have made to Reckers, and besides making the best tasting snacks for studying, she is great to talk to and very funny. These study breaks have been some of my favorites over the years.

Professors, friends, rectors: There are several people that fall under these categories that I should mention but do not have the space to. These people are certainly ones we come into contact with everyday. For me, you know who you are, and I appreciate everything, small or big, that you have done for me.

Brother André’s example really brings home the point that it does not matter in what capacity one serves in or what job they may hold (professional or personal), the opportunity to impact someone’s life is always available. Maybe the Church is not declaring these people (and many others I have not mentioned) for sainthood, but in some way, each person listed above has made my day or touched me in some way. You, too, could be a saint in someone’s life or for someone’s day. Never underestimate the power of your actions. Who would have ever thought a doorman would be the next declared saint? I am not sure even Brother André thought so.

Kevin Kimberly is a senior majoring in psychology and political science. He is eligible to run for president in 2024 and welcomes campaign slogans and ideas at kkimberl@nd.edu

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