The Early Years

Theodore Martin Hesburgh was born on May 25, 1917 in Syracuse, New York, the second of five children of Theodore Bernard and Anne Marie Hesburgh. Father Hesburgh grew up attending Catholic schools, surrounded by faithful men and women religious, and he knew from the age of six that he wanted to be a priest.

In addition to his formal education, Father Hesburgh learned much on his own. He read constantly and developed an incredible memory. It was clear from a young age that Father Hesburgh was gifted, and from the time he was a young seminarian, his religious superiors encouraged him to realize and utilize his unique gifts.

As a seminarian, and later as a priest, Father Hesburgh found the vow of obedience to be quite challenging, but he learned to accept it as quite freeing. It was difficult for him to give up control over his life, but it became clear with every new direction that God had a unique plan for his life. This plan would bring him to Notre Dame, take him across the Atlantic and back again, to Washington, D.C., and to an eventual return to the university that had always held a special place in his heart.

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