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Father Jenkins remembers Father Ted

Notre Dame University President Father John Jenkins held a press conference on Friday to remember the life of Father Theodore Hesburgh. At 97-years-old "Father Ted" was still an active member of the Notre Dame community and he had a special connection with students.

Father Jenkins said, “Next to the University's founder, Father Edward Sorin, no one had a greater impact on this university.”

On Friday students stopped by the Grotto and lit a candle in Father Ted's memory.

In the press conference, Jenkins said Hesburgh outlived most of his contemporaries but they expect a large and notable crowd for the funeral.

Jenkins said, "Father Ted was the only person I know you could come to breakfast and say the president called me last night."

Jenkins said Hesburgh passed away around 11:30 p.m. on Thursday and he had labored breaths but seemed to be in good spirits.

Jenkins said, “He celebrated mass daily, he had a cigar daily, so he was very engaged, the past week he seemed to slow down a bit, and he wasn't going to the office. We knew when he wasn't going to the office. That was a sign.”

Jenkins was emotional at the press conference and he said Hesburgh was not only a friend but also a mentor.

Jenkins said, “He is now with the God he serves so faithfully and in the arms of Notre Dame Our Lady to whom he was so devoted.”

Hesburgh served as President of the University from 1952 to 1987. He was a priest for the Holy Cross Congregation for 71 years.

Jenkins said, “Serving 4 Popes and 9 Presidents, Father Hesburgh was a moral force in virtually all major social issues to this day including civil rights, peaceful uses of atomic energy, campus unrest, third world development, and immigration reform.”

Father Jenkins recounted a difficult time when Hesburgh called his mother to let her know that Jenkins would be okay.

Jenkins said, “In 2009, when he invited President Obama there was a great deal of controversy about that as you may recall he heard it was a difficult time and without talking to me, he called my mom, just to say this would turn out well. So they became fast friends. And that's Father Ted. He cared about people."

A funeral will be held on Wednesday at 2 p.m. by invitation only but afterwards there will be a procession that's open to the public from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to the Holy Cross Community Cemetery on St. Mary's Road.

Jenkins said, "Notre Dame lost a piece of its heart last night but Father Ted lives on at Notre Dame and among the millions of lives he touched around the world."

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