FATHER CORNELIUS HAGERTY, CSC (1885-1977)
LOYAL TO ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, HOLY CROSS AND HIS PRIESTHOOD
Father Hagerty was born in South Bend, IN, in 1885. He attended St. Patrick parish grade school and Holy Cross Seminary, entering the novitiate in 1903. Graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1906, he did graduate work in theology at Holy Cross College in Washington, DC and was ordained in 1909 at Notre Dame. He then returned to Washington where he received his doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University in 1911. He taught philosophy at Notre Dame from 1911 to 1921, then at the University of Portland for three years before returning to Notre Dame for the years 1924-1926. After nine years of teaching at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, he once again returned to Notre Dame in 1935 where he lived and worked for the remainder of his life. He ministered as teacher and prefect, chaplain to the Holy Cross Brothers at both Dujarié Hall and Columba Hall, and, eventually, retiring at Holy Cross House.
Even in retirement, “Father Con” maintained his many interests, especially in apologetics and dogma and was the author of many articles and several books, notably a scholarly treatise on the Blessed Trinity and one on the problem of evil. For a good number of years, he sent as his Christmas greetings to relatives and friends his latest essay on some spiritual or intellectual subject.
All of his religious life, Father Hagerty was known for his vigorous, sometimes acerbic, defense and promulgation of his views on matters pertaining to doctrine and to Thomistic philosophy. His reputation as a debater and a possessor of a gift for repartee preceded and followed him. Not many came out victorious in a verbal confrontation with Con Hagerty.
In accord with Father Hagerty’s wishes, there was only one celebrant at his funeral Mass, which was offered at Moreau Seminary by Bishop Leo Pursley: the Mass and hymns were in Latin—according to one observer, “The participants sang in Latin as if they had been singing it for years.” In the homily by Bishop Pursley, he quoted a passage from the Book of Wisdom which appropriately summed Hagerty’s life: “My course grows longer and the river of my days draws nearer to the sea. Therefore, will I now make true doctrine shine forth to all, and enlighten all who hope in the Lord. …Behold, I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek the truth.” (Adapted from Province Review, October 7, 1977)