Rev. Theodore Martin Hesburgh, C.S.C. (1917–2015)

hesburgh 1Hesburgh TimeA native of Syracuse, New York, he served as the president of the University of Notre Dame for thirty-five years (1952–1987).  In addition to his career as an educator and author, Hesburgh was a public servant and social activist involved in numerous American civic and governmental initiatives, commissions and international humanitarian projects. Father Hesburgh received numerous honors and awards for his service, most notably the United States’ Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964) and Congressional Gold Medal (2000). He is credited with bringing Notre Dame, long known for its football program, to the forefront of American Catholic universities and its transition to a nationally respected institution of higher education. During his tenure as president, the university also became a coeducational institution. In addition to his service to Notre Dame, Hesburgh held leadership positions in numerous groups involved in civil rights, peaceful uses of atomic energy, immigration reform, and Third World development. He wanted to become a priest since the age of six. Graduating from Holy Rosary High School in Syracuse in 1934, he entered Holy Cross Seminary in the fall. In 1937 the Congregation sent him to Rome where he graduated in 1940. When the American consul in Rome ordered all U.S. citizens to leave Italy in 1940 due to the outbreak of World War II, Hesburgh returned to the United States to continue his studies. He spent three years (1940–43) studying theology at Holy Cross College and two years (1943–45) at the Catholic University of America, earning a doctorate in sacred theology in 1945. Ordained in 1943, he served as a chaplain at the National Training School for Boys and at a military installation.  Although Hesburgh expressed an interest in serving as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he returned to Notre Dame in 1945. After retirement, Hesburgh was especially active in the development of five institutions he organized: the Ecumenical Institute for Theology Studies at Jerusalem; Notre Dame’s Center for Civil and Human Rights; the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies; the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies; and the Hank Family Environmental Research Center. He died in 2015, at the age of 97. A Time magazine cover story from 1962, named him as “the most influential figure in the reshaping of Catholic higher education in the U.S.” (Information taken from various online sources.)

Brother Francis Xavier (René) Patois, C.S.C. (1820-1896)

xavier“The usual suffrages and prayers of the members of the Congregation are requested for the repose of the soul of Brother Francis Xavier who died at Notre Dame, November 21, 1896, fortified by the Holy Sacraments.  The deceased was born in Clermont, France, July 27, 1820, entered the Congregation Sept., 15, 1840, received the habit, March 22, 1841, and was professed August 22, 1841. Brother Francis Xavier was first called Brother Marie, which was afterwards changed to Brother Francis Xavier. Brother Francis was a model religious, regular at all the exercises, industrious to the very last, devoted to the Community, and led a life of great self-denial. He was a cabinet maker by trade.  From the very earliest history of his life in America, in 1841, he was employed as an undertaker, and he was frequently called up at mid-night, and had to go eight or even twelve miles to attend the dead. Hundreds of times he was exposed in rains, snow-storms; perched on an uncovered hearse, slowly making his way to the Church and cemetery. The most remarkable fact in his history is that he came with Very Rev. R.[sic] Sorin in company with five other Brothers in 1841. He survived every one of that devoted band who founded Notre Dame. It would be hard to find in history a more devoted band of missionaries than the band of which Brother Francis Xavier was the survivor” (Fr. Corby: CIRCULAR LETTER, November 13, 1896). “Brother Francis Xavier, 29, an excellent Brother like[d] by everyone. A master-carpenter; Sacristan. In charge of cellar for Mass wine” (Sorin’s Memo). “Brother Francis Xavier tells of the manner of journey from St. Peter’s [New York] and arrival at South Bend: ‘We came through from Vincennes on an old stage coach, which the Bishop who sent us here picked up somewhere. It was too small a conveyance to hold us all and our baggage, so we took turns at walking. When we arrived in South Bend we stopped for several days at the home of the first Alexis Coquillard as there were no accommodations for our party at the mission. We did not ford the river, ferry it, or go over it in row boats, but crossed it on the old bridge north of the brickyard. Alexis Coquillard might have gone with us, but he was a small boy then. It was resolved that Brother Francis Xavier should be assistant and Master of Novices’” (LOCAL COUNCIL, February 25, 1850). “It was resolved that Brother Francis Xavier should make a steeple for the church of St. Joseph, South Bend” (Local Council, 1851). “Altar made by Brother Francis Xavier on which Sorin used to say Mass in the log church now in east Chapel of new extension of church” (SCHOLASTIC, 19, p.293, 1894). “. . . who has made the coffins for all who have died at Notre Dame and most likely will do the same kind office for many more before he drives the last nail into his” (Prof. Lyons, (J.A.) Silver Jubilee of Notre Dame, p. 11, 1869).  “Since Father Sorin died, Brother Francis has been the Patriarch of Notre Dame; but no stranger who saw the silent, unobtrusive Brother as he moved actively about his work, would have guessed it. He wore his honors gracefully, and to the end he remained the prayerful, laborious, amiable, humble religious that he was in youth. Such men never die. They live again in every life their example has helped to sanctify” ( SCHOLASTIC, Vol. 30, p. 155, 1896).

Sister Euphrosine (Rosalie) Pepin, C.S.C. (1830-1906)

sistersBorn in France in 1830, Rosalie Pepin was known as “Fr. Sorin’s postulant” even though she was out of the Sisters of the Holy Cross for nearly ten years (1871- 79). When she was 19, she heard of the missionary work of two Sisters of the Holy Cross in Indiana. “[They] labored among the Indians, [and because of] the good they effected by their zealous missionary spirit” she desired to join them. In 1852, she sailed from France with Father Sorin and three other women for New York. Professed in 1854, she had early on endured many privations from the time she landed in New York. Her first assignment, caring for a dozen orphans, was in such destitution in all things that “[her] missionary life… looked to the worse instead of [the] better.” During the next 13 years she changed assignments ten times. In 1870, she returned to France to attend to family business and upon her return to the States, she met the Bishop of Galveston, Texas who asked her to return with him to begin a school. She did this and gathered women to assist her. Thinking that Father Sorin had given his permission for her Texas sojourn, she served for nearly ten years as a teacher/director in schools in several Texas outposts. Being away from St. Mary’s for nearly five years without the approval of Father Sorin, she was asked by Mother Angela Gillespie to “abandon the habit of Holy Cross. Always obedient, she changed the headdress, calling her group of [women] Sisters of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus.” She petitioned to return to Holy Cross and was granted permission in 1879. Over the next 20 years, she served in several towns in Utah, Michigan and Indiana. After the main building at Notre Dame burned down, she was asked by Father Sorin to return to France to beg donations for its rebuilding which she did. Finally, in 1899 she returned to St. Mary’s and was a now-and-then patient in the infirmary until her death in 1906. As an early “archivist” she collected memorabilia from many of the missions where she served and from individual sisters. This collection is a memorandum on the Sisters of the Holy Cross from 1852-1862. Prior to her death she listed in a small notebook five graces she asked from God: pardon for her sins, the spirit of faith, his holy love, the grace to do all the good which lay in her power, and finally the grace of a good and holy death. (Information taken from “Sister M. Euphrosine: Pioneer and Enigma” by Sister Campion Kuhn, C.S.C., 1984.) There are no images nor photos of Sister Euphrosine.

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