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Professor speaks on miracles in “Last Lecture” series

Christian Myers | Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Notre Dame, and Fisher Hall in particular, would not be the same without political science professor, Kellogg Institute fellow, Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) co-founder and Fisher resident Fr. Tim Scully.

Scully spoke Tuesday night in the Coleman-Morse Center lounge as part of the “Last Lecture” series.

He began his lecture by asking the audience whether or not they believe in miracles.

“Do you believe in miracles?” Scully said. “I think miracles happen all the time. The very fabric of life is made up of miracles.”

The lecture was divided into three lessons he learned through important experiences in his life. He explained the division was based on his belief that all good things come in threes.

“I’m an intense and unapologetic Trinitarian. I believe not just God, but all good things come in threes,” he said.

The first lesson came as a result of his work with local prisoners while a sophomore at Notre Dame. Scully explained after hearing the stories of poverty and broken families from these prisoners, he reevaluated his own upbringing in suburban Illinois.

He said the lesson he took away was that life is a gift – and it is meant to be given away in service to others.

“Life is little else than gift after gift after gift,” Scully said. “Life is a gift to be given away,”

The death of Scully’s father taught him a second important lesson. He said his father’s death made the fact he would also die more real; this led him to evaluate how he was living his life.

“If it’s true that I will die, how do I want to live?” Scully said.

The University of Chicago Law School and a legal career were Scully’s dream, he said. This did not change until his senior year at Notre Dame and after he had been accepted to his dream school.

Scully said he realized he was looking in the wrong place one night during his senior year when he felt compelled to attend daily Mass at Morrissey Hall. It was after this experience that he realized his heart’s deepest desire and God’s will were directing him toward the priesthood.

He said the miracle of receiving the Eucharist daily inspired this change of direction, even though he had not been one to attend daily Mass prior to his experience that night.

“If I’m going to Mass every day, I might as well become a priest,” Scully said. “For me, since then, the Eucharist has become a beautiful sustaining miracle in my life.”

Scully said the second lesson he came away with was to pursue the life he desired in his heart without compromising and without fearing failure. He said there is always an opportunity to learn from failure.

“Don’t be afraid to take risks and fail, because failure is the stuff of wisdom,” Scully said.

After his theological studies, Scully was sent to Santiago, Chile with the Congregation of Holy Cross. He said when working in Chile he came across a saying capturing his second lesson of learning from mistakes and recognizing one’s mortality.

“In Chile there’s a wonderful saying, ‘We all die at least twice in life. Pray that your first death comes early enough that you can learn from it,'” Scully said.

Scully’s third and final lesson was that relationships are of the utmost importance in life.

“Nothing else matters but the quality of your relationships with God, with each other and with yourselves,” Scully said.

Scully learned this lesson through living in Fisher Hall, where he connected with Fr. Richard Warner, superior general of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and through teaching at the University.

“I’ve fallen in love with teaching,” Scully said. “How could you not fall in love with being a teacher?”

Contact Christian Myers at cmyers8@nd.edu