Arthur Jones | National Catholic Reporter
The death of Holy Cross Fr. Theodore Martin “Ted” Hesburgh, the University of Notre Dame’s longest-serving president, on late Thursday at age 97 has finally closed the door on the American Catholic era.
Born in 1917, into a time when Catholics were distrusted, despised and discriminated against, the Syracuse, N.Y., native kept pace with, and in many ways encouraged, the emergence of the American Catholic laity. It was an emergence paid for in part by the GI Bill that funded the college education of War World II veterans and gave the young priest his first Notre Dame job, as chaplain to those men and their families. They lived on the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind., in the hastily constructed “Vetsville,” land now partially occupied by the Hesburgh Library.