Memorial Mass commemorates life of junior Theresa Sagartz
Selena Ponio | Thursday, March 17, 2016
Family, friends and members of the Notre Dame community filled the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Wednesday evening to honor the life of Theresa Sagartz, a junior and former resident of Pangborn Hall, who died last week in her off-campus apartment due to apparent natural causes related to a medical condition.
University President Fr. John Jenkins celebrated the memorial Mass, and Fr. Pete McCormick, director of Campus Ministry, delivered the homily. The Notre Dame Liturgical Choir provided music for the Mass.
“As we situate Theresa’s death into the fabric of our day-to-day lives, we are invited to look back, not with sadness or regret, but with gratitude, to be thankful for the way she touched our hearts, both directly and indirectly [in] her love of her family and friends, the resilience with which she lived her life,” McCormick said.“Through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, he demonstrated how far he would go to prove God’s love and lasting commitment to each of us. Jesus’ testimony and God’s desire to be in relationship with us now serves as the basis for our prayer tonight, to commend a sister, a daughter, a friend, a role model, back to God.”
McCormick said Sagartz was a woman who lived selflessly and was known for both her compassion and leadership — evident in her multiple roles on campus, which included being an “honorary mom” to section 2A in Zahm House who brought oranges to soccer games.
“The list could go on forever of the things that made Theresa, Theresa,” McCormick said. “But what we celebrate is her turning back to God, a God who so deeply loves each of us that he has created a space for us in him to return. Theresa’s life has changed. It has not ended.”
Sagartz’s life was a manifestation of God’s grace, McCormick said.
“God blessed Theresa with the precise amount of time needed for her to make an impact on this world. We no doubt would have preferred more of it, yet so goes the delicate and precious nature of life. And while we are tempted to measure the quality of life in years, the true measure of life is what you do in the time that you have,” McCormick said. “If a person with 75 years mostly wraps himself in anger and greed, what good is that? Is it somehow better than 21 years filled with love and service to others? … No matter the time we have here, five minutes or 100 years, we are invited to look forward, mirroring God’s love that extends beyond us and extends beyond death.”
The fullness of Sagartz’s life can serve as inspiration, McCormick said.
“Leaving the Basilica tonight, my sincere hope is that each of us might be changed in some way,” he said. “Perhaps we may express a deeper gratitude for the family, friends and those lives that we come in contact with on a daily basis. … Or maybe, we develop a deeper trust through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection — that we do not mourn Theresa’s death as if it were the end, but rather, prayerfully, as she begins her journey to eternal life.”
Senior News Writer Catherine Owers contributed to this report.