Life as a Holy Cross

Father Theodore Hesburgh was first introduced to the Congregation of Holy Cross as an altar boy in the eighth grade. Four missionary priests from the order arrived at his parish, and young Ted was fascinated with the description of life as a Holy Cross priest. Throughout high school, Ted exchanged letters with one of the priests, and when asked whether he wanted to enter the Congregation and attend the University of Notre Dame, he didn't hesitate.

Father Hesburgh's journey as a seminarian and priest, and of course, president of the University of Notre Dame, would take him all over the world. But all of the important roles he played within the United States and abroad, would have meant nothing to him if he could not celebrate the Mass. He was a priest, first. He reflected in the preface to his autobiography,

I have traveled far and wide, far beyond the simple parish I envisioned as a young man. My obligation of service has led me into diverse yet interrelated roles: college teacher, theologian, president of a great university, counselor to four popes and six presidents. ...

But deep beneath it all, wherever I have been, whatever I have done, I have always and everywhere considered myself essentially a priest.

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