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The passing of a true legend

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, February 7, 2008

Amidst the excitement and hubbub of the Super Bowl, Super Tuesday, and even National Letter of Intent Day, Notre Dame lost one of its quiet giants on Monday morning, with the passing of Father Arthur S. Harvey, at the ripe old age of 97.

Father Harvey, or “Father Art” as he was known to thousands of his students, passed away peacefully at Holy Cross House, where he spent some tough final years of his life both bed ridden and unable to eat solid food. And yet, his spirit was lively to the end, and his legacy as one of the great priests of Notre Dame will forever remain.

Father Art spent over 60 years of his life at Notre Dame, and is largely responsible for the acclaim and prestige that the theater department enjoys today. His productions in Washington Hall were reviewed the world over, and his close frienships with Broadway legend Helen Hayes, Notre Dame alumnus Phil Donahue and others are well known. He even came out of retirement one last time in 1989 to direct a revival of his most acclaimed production, Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”

Several years ago the University Fathers honored Father Art by creating the Arthur S. Harvey award for Theater Excellence. It was something of which he was especially proud in his final years, as he would mentor up and coming theater students and priests right from his bed. But more than just awards, Father Harvey will be, and should be remembered, as the very embodiment of a priest – a counselor, a mentor, a friend, and an instructor. His legions of theater students, many going on to great acclaim on stage and screen, would tell you of his insistence on getting the best of his people, his unbending demands for excellence, and his encouragement and guidance, that for most people, lasted well beyond their four years at Notre Dame.

I was lucky enough to know another side of Father Harvey – that of a family friend as well. His “halftime” Masses, given in our kitchen and living room during Notre Dame football games, became legendary around our house and among my visiting friends and roommates. But it was a prayer that he always prayed aloud during the list of intentions that has stuck with me all these years, and tells you most about the man: “Father,” he would intercede, “we add our prayers for one person, somewhere, who needs your help more than anything right now. Someone who is alone, who is struggling, and who doesn’t know where to turn. Only you know who that person is. We ask you to be with that person right now, and give them your comfort and blessings, and have them know that you are with them.” That was Father Harvey.

His funeral Mass will be held in the Basilica next Monday afternoon. If you are walking by, to or from class, and hear the bells toll, be happy, for we will be inside celebrating the wonderful life of a true Notre Dame man.

Godspeed Father Harvey!

Guy Weismantel


Class of 1990

Feb. 6