My Fr. Hesburgh story.
I was a Sophomore in high school and my sister was starting her first year at Notre Dame. We had spent the day unpacking all her gear and decided to take a walk to the library to check out the view. The four of us (my sister, myself, my mom and dad) piled in the elevator and pressed the button for the highest floor we could. Right before the door closed, an elderly man in a collar hustled to the elevator door. My dad held it and he came in and smiled and said thank you.
I'd like to say we all immediately recognized who he was, but that wasn't the case. Fr. Hesburgh turned to us and asked where we were heading. We told him we we're going to the highest floor we could to get a view of campus. He said to us, "Well I have the best view in the building - why don't you come to my office?"
So we followed him, and when we saw "Father Hesburgh" on his door, my dad and I turned to eachother with a look of shock. Father Hesburgh spent the next hour talking to us -- answering our questions, telling us stories and, yes, showing us the incredible view from his office. I told him about my desire to attend Notre Dame and he gave me words of encouragement.
One thing I remember distinctly was that his computer "monitor" was actually a 32" TV on his desk, which he attributed to his poor eyesight. Besides that, physically and mentally, he was as energetic and sharp as possible. Our whole family was amazed by him.
When we'd felt we'd stayed long enough (though I don't doubt Fr. Ted would have entertained us all afternoon if we'd liked), we said our goodbyes. I was last out the door and as I turned to leave, Fr. Ted said to me "Chris, one moment." He handed me a card and said that "If you ever need anything, don't hesitate to let me know."
Fast-forward to the next Spring. I had applied early to ND, been pushed to regular admission, and ultimately been waitlisted. I was shocked. I won't go into my credentials or my legacy status at ND, but I had thought I was a lock to get in (hence the early application). I was heartbroken, distraught and I thought my lifelong dream of going to ND was done.
I had sent in my deposit to Creighton and was resigned to the fact that I wasn't going to get into ND. I continued to do everything I could, sending letters, grade reports, staying in contact with admissions, but I just had an awful feeling.
Finally, I remembered something. I went to the top drawer of my desk and pulled out Fr. Ted's card. He had said "anything" so I thought, what the hell. I sent him an email, explaining my situation, not thinking anything would really come of it. Later that day, I got a reply from him.
Of course I remember you and your family -- and I would be happy to help. After our conversation, I was left with a very distinct impression of your desire to attend Our Lady's university. I'm not sure I can do much, but I will gladly send a note to admissions on your behalf.
Please tell your parents, Tim and Cathy, hello - and tell your sister Carolyn to come by and say hello sometime.
Fr. Theodore Hesburgh"
A week later, I got a call I was in. I'm not sure if he ended up sending the note over (I'm almost sure he did, but never heard about it from the admissions officer I had been working with), or what impact it had (I imagine, quite a bit), or if I would have ultimately got in anyways (who knows -- but they only took 13 people off the waitlist of nearly 900), but I will never, ever forget the fact he even took the time to reply to me and knew the names of my family over a year after we had met.
He impacted many people in many profound ways, and I'm amongst them. I will always be grateful.
RIP Fr. Ted