I have, from time to time, lost faith in my Notre Dame community. I have loved this school for my entire life, so take the former statement as all the more profound. I have felt that our campus is divided against itself in 80 different ways. I have felt that our campus is at war with itself. I have felt that the people on this campus care more about the lack of success that plagues our football team than they do about issues of humanity that affect the world every day. I feel that we are slowly slipping away from the ideals that Notre Dame was built upon, survived on, and currently promotes as the true spirit of our student body.
Two hours ago all of that changed. Two hours ago, the memorial service for Mr. Declan Sullivan commenced. As the entire campus knows, the student body flooded the Basilica, overflowed into the LaFun Ballroom, and even had to listen outside. Others, like myself, watched the memorial service from the live feed online. For an hour, the entire campus stood still as we all came together to celebrate the life of Declan Sullivan, and to help his family and friends begin the mourning process.
I never had the privilege to meet Declan, but I have spent the last several hours thanking God for this soul that could be so inspiring. For though I never met this man, he restored my faith in this university. Though I never knew him, I found myself crying through his service as if I had known him my entire life. I found my heart was aching for his family, and as I scanned the faces in the crowd that filled the Basilica, I knew that the entire group felt the same way. I felt the power of the entire student body spreading their prayers over his family, his friends, his dorm mates. For the first time in a long time, I felt this community united.
On this day we didn’t belong to a race. We had no political standing. We were not gay or straight. We were not A-students or the “C’s get degrees” crowd. We weren’t pro-life or pro-choice. We weren’t pro-Brian Kelly or anti-Brian Kelly. We just were. For a brief moment, we were undivided. We were the Notre Dame community that I so long to be a part of.
I challenge the student body to remain that way, honor of the man who had a soul so strong to call us back to who we are. Remember that we must support one another, not tear each other down as we are so often tempted to do. Remember that we are united through all, and that our minor disagreements should never be allowed to prevent us from standing together as one community. And when one of our community falls, remember that they are always one of our own. We feel the pain of a family’s loss because we have indeed lost a family member.
Remember Declan Sullivan, whose influence is so strong that an entire community of 8000-plus people came together to celebrate his life. For this, he is truly the embodiment of the Notre Dame spirit. To his family, thank you for sharing such an amazing person with the Notre Dame family; my prayers and the prayers of the entire community are with you. To Declan: thank you. Thank you for restoring my faith in my Notre Dame family. Thank you for reminding us of who we are.
For at the end of the day, we are but one simple thing: We are ND — united in the memory of one of our faithfully fallen.