Students pay respects in overnight visitation
Ann Marie Jakubowski | Wednesday, March 4, 2015
In his years as president, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh always kept his office door open to students who wanted to visit him, even in the middle of the night.
And all through Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, students took him up on the offer one last time, visiting the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in a steady stream through the night to pay their final respects.
“It says a lot that even though we didn’t get to experience everything he did, or we weren’t there during his most active times, we’re still here tonight,” McGlinn sophomore Priscilla Quaye said at 2 a.m.
Residence halls were assigned priority hours through the night to organize the flow of people. Even at 1 a.m., the wait time to enter the Basilica and proceed through the lines inside was about an hour and a half.
“So many people want to pay their last respects to Fr. Ted, and [everyone here] is just a fraction of the people he’s affected,” McGlinn sophomore Cindy Do said. “It was well worth the wait.”
For some students, this was the first time they were able to see Hesburgh in person, and they didn’t want to miss the chance to say both hello and goodbye.
“I never met Fr. Hesburgh, but I know he shaped a place that’s been pretty integral to my development,” Quinn O’Heeney, a senior in Siegfried Hall, said. “I just had a hard time fathoming someone could have that type of influence over this many people and just have that type of effect on so many lives.”
For others who had met Hesburgh before, the night was equally powerful.
“I met Fr. Hesbrugh during my freshman year, and he was just such an amazing person who had contributed so much to Notre Dame and to civil rights and to a lot of different things,” Keenan Hall senior Samuel Leung said. “So for me, it was very important to be able to give respect to this man.
“Inside there, you could feel that there was a lot of respect for this man, and everyone was there to honor him. It was a very special moment.”
A tent set up outside the Basilica kept visitors out of the 20-degree night as they waited their turn to go in. Once inside, students were ushered into lines and made their way through the Basilica to stand before the casket, two by two.
“I think it’s extremely impressive, first of all, because I never anticipated this many people would be here, especially this late into the night,” Mike Fernandes, a Siegfried Hall senior, said. “Standing in line all this time just reinforced the fact that Notre Dame is a pretty special place. You see the solidarity in people especially in times like this.”
“I never got to meet him, so I really wanted to just come and see him in person and pay my respects and thank him for making Notre Dame the place that I love today,” McGlinn Hall senior Elena Brindley said. “It was a really cool testament to see how many people he touched, to see that it’s 2 a.m., and there’s a tent full of people waiting through the night.”